Habitat Requirements

Monarch butterfly on a flower


Monarch habitat can be easily added to your existing flower garden. There is no minimum area requirement, but for best results you'll need at least 100 square feet. The total area may be split among several sites at your location. There is no upper limit for the size of a Monarch habitat.


Monarch habitats need to be located in an area that receives at least six hours of sun a day.

Drainage and Soil Type

Milkweeds and nectar plants will do best in relatively light (low-clay) soils. Good drainage is needed to avoid root rot and provide good aeration of the roots. Areas with poor drainage may need more tolerant species such a swamp milkweed and New England aster.


All monarch life stages need shelter from predators and the elements. Plants should be relatively close together. However, they should not be crowded – be sure to follow the planting recommendations specific to each plant. Planting milkweeds and nectar plants close together contributes to this shelter for monarchs and other wildlife.


Milkweed Plants

For the best habitat, include a number of milkweed species. It is best to have at least 10 plants, made up of two or more species, although more than 10 plants of one species is sufficient.

Milkweeds of different species mature and flower at different times during the season. Using several milkweed species in your habitat will let monarchs use your property for a longer period during the breeding season.

Nectar Plants

Monarchs and other pollinators need nectar. A Monarch habitat should contain at least 4 biennial or perennial native plants that provide nectar for butterflies. This will provide food for monarchs throughout the breeding season and the migration in the fall.


You should have a plan to sustain your Monarch backyard habitat area. Specific actions you take will depend on the features of your habitat. Some general examples include mulching, thinning, fertilizing, amending the soil, removing dead stalks, watering, eliminating insecticide use, removing invasive plant species, and incorporating additional features.

Information provided in part by Monarch Watch.

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