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Sunflower

build your own monarch 
BUTTERFLY GARDEN  

Learn how you can help restore the Monarch Butterfly's habitat by building your very own butterfly garden.

What Does a Monarch Butterfly Garden Need?

To build your own Monarch Butterfly garden there are a few elements you must have. 

MILKWEED  |  NECTAR  |  SHELTER  |  SUN  |  WATER  | PESTICIDE FREE

MILKWEED

Monarch caterpillars only eat milkweed, so that’s where adult female monarchs lay their eggs. To create a sustainable monarch habitat, your butterfly garden must have plenty of (native) milkweed.

Zizotes Milkweed Pod-min.jpg

NECTAR

Adult monarch butterflies and other pollinators sip nectar from flowers for sustenance. Native plants are best because they are better adapted to local soil, climate, and will attract native pollinators. Plant a variety of flowers for blooms and nectar availability throughout the seasons.

Monarch Catapiller on Native Milkweed-min.jpg

ENTER FOR A GARDEN GIVEAWAY

As part of our mission, the Monarch Sanctuary Project is dedicated to building safe havens for monarch butterflies. Every spring and fall, we will empower our local monarch champions by gifting out habitat spaces with native plants that build healthy ecosystems. 

SUN

Butterflies prefer sunlight and the plants they’re attracted to love the sun as well. Make sure you’re planting your butterfly garden in a location that gets plenty of sunlight.

SHELTER

While butterflies prefer the sun, sometimes they need a little protection. Carefully placed fences, trees and shrubs will provide necessary shelter from wind and predators and provide spaces for caterpillars to safely pupate.

Monarch Sanctuary Butterfly Garden-min.jpg

WATER

 Monarch butterflies drink from different sources, like nectar, dew and tree sap. But you can also help them out by adding a butterfly puddling station. You can do this by filling a shallow dish with sand or gravel and burying it to the rim in your garden in the sun with protection from wind. Fill it with water so it's damp but not pooling.

Monarch butterfly on Lantana-min.jpg

PESTICIDE FREE

A healthy butterfly garden needs to be free of pesticides. Pesticides are fatal for all insects, including monarch caterpillars and butterflies. When buying plants for your garden, check with your nursery to make sure they haven’t been treated with pesticides. Choose a safe location for your butterfly garden that is not near any areas that are treated by you, a neighbor, or your municipality.

GIFT GARDEN

WHAT IS THE GARDEN GIVEAWAY?

One of the Monarch Sanctuary Project's pillar goals is to create pollinator habitats in our local communities. We want to put the power in the people’s hands to create and maintain their own monarch habitats.

 

A Monarch Sanctuary Project garden giveaway will provide plants for a 100 sq ft, all-season monarch habitat.

 

The gift garden is complete with all the native milkweeds and nectars needed to support the monarch migration as they come through Texas in the spring and fall.

 

Anyone with a passion and a plan to maintain their own monarch habitat can apply for a gift garden.

Monarch Sanctuary Fall Installation Garden
Wagon full of native plants for spring gift garden kit

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE MSP GARDEN GIVEAWAY 

Hand drawn Monarch Chrysalis
REQUIREMENTS

To apply, you need a garden space in Williamson or Travis County that is full sun and free of pesticides. You will also be responsible for maintaining and watering the garden on your own.

SELECTION

We will sit down together as a team and review the applications. Important factors like why, where and how will be considered. Be sure to include specifics like public visibility or educational  opportunities. 

ELIGIBILITY 

Anyone can apply for the garden giveaway program! Families, schools, and businesses - we need habitats everywhere! We will select a variety of different recipients.

WHAT'S INCLUDED?

This year, with support from H-E-B, we are excited to offer 6 spring kits and 6 fall kits, each with enough plants to cover a 100 sq ft area.
 

SPRING GARDEN KITS

All the plants you need to build out your own garden.  

Spring kits include: 
 

  • 3 spring bloomers

  • 3 summer bloomers

  • 3 fall bloomers

  • 12 native milkweeds

  • What does a monarch butterfly garden need?
    To build a successful habitat to support monarch butterflies, we need to recreate natural and native monarch sanctuaries. Monarch butterflies need milkweed, nectar, water, sun, shelter and safety from pesticides. MILKWEED | Monarch caterpillars only eat milkweed, so that’s where adult female monarchs lay their eggs. To create a sustainable monarch habitat, your butterfly garden must have plenty of (native) milkweed. NECTAR | Adult monarch butterflies and other pollinators sip nectar from flowers for sustenance. Native plants are best because they are better adapted to local soil, climate, and will attract native pollinators. Plant a variety of flowers for blooms and nectar availability throughout the seasons. WATER | Monarch butterflies drink from different sources, like nectar, dew and tree sap. But you can also help them out by adding a butterfly puddling station. You can do this by filling a shallow dish with sand or gravel and burying it to the rim in your garden in the sun with protection from wind. Fill it with water so it's damp but not pooling. SUN | Butterflies prefer sunlight and the plants they’re attracted to love the sun as well. Make sure you’re planting your butterfly garden in a location that gets plenty of sunlight. SHELTER | While butterflies prefer the sun, sometimes they need a little protection. Carefully placed fences, trees and shrubs will provide necessary shelter from wind and predators and provide spaces for caterpillars to safely pupate. PESTICIDE FREE | A commonly overlooked element of creating a healthy butterfly garden is safety from pesticides. Pesticides are fatal for all insects, including monarch caterpillars and butterflies. When buying plants for your garden, check with your nursery to make sure they haven’t been treated with pesticides. Choose a safe location for your butterfly garden that is not near any areas that are treated by you, a neighbor, or your municipality.
  • Why plant native milkweed?
    Native milkweeds have evolved with the monarch butterfly migration for millions of years. There are over 100 species of milkweeds in the US. Their spring and summer emergence corresponds naturally with the timing of the monarchs flying through their specific region. In Texas, we have over 30 varieties. In the central Texas Blackland Prairie and Edwards Plateau ecoregions, our main natives are: ANTELOPE HORNS MILKWEED (Asclepias asperula) GREEN MILKWEED (Asclepias viridis) ZIZOTES MILKWEED (Asclepias oenotheroides) BUTTERFLYWEED (Asclepias tuberosa) TEXAS MILKWEED (Asclepias texana) PEARL MILKWEED VINE (Matelea reticulata) PURPLE MILKWEED VINE (Matelea biflora)
  • Why shouldn’t we plant tropical milkweed?
    Ok, first let’s be clear about one thing: there are no “good or bad” plants. This tends to be a delicate topic for some folks but we’re not here to argue. We know monarchs are desperately in need of more milkweed but it’s important to understand the consequences of buying Tropical milkweed. Tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) is native to Central and South America and Asia (not native to central TX). Yes, it’s beautiful, easy to grow, find, and the monarchs love it BUT here’s what you don’t see on the label at the nursery: Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE) is a nasty parasite that infects monarchs and other milkweed munchers. Because tropical milkweed doesn't die back in the fall, it increases the chances that monarchs will become infected. They collect the spores on their abdomen and as they fly from plant to plant laying eggs, they deposit spores on the egg casing. When the caterpillars hatch, they turn around and eat the egg casing- ingesting the spores. High OE levels in adult monarchs can result in: crumpled wings, shorter lifespan, low mating success rate, limited flight ability, and can negatively impact their ability to migrate successfully.
  • Can I apply for the garden giveaway if I live outside of Williamson or Travis County?
    While we know that the monarchs need support all along their migration path, at this time our volunteers and resources are focused in Williamson and Travis Counties. Applications will only be considered within those 2 counties.
  • Is the garden giveaway really free?
    You betcha! It is free, there is no cost to enter the butterfly garden giveaway. But please note, the garden maintenance and watering will be your responsibility.
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