Milkweeds for Monarchs

The St. Louis Butterfly Project

St. Louis Milkweeds for Monarch Project Logo. Image of a Monarch butterfly

About Milkweeds for Monarchs

On Earth Day 2014, Mayor Slay launched Milkweeds for Monarchs: The St. Louis Butterfly Project to foster the connection between people and urban natural resources where they live, work, learn and play. Milkweeds for Monarchs (overview document here) aligns with the City of St. Louis Urban Vitality & Ecology Initiative, is an effort that advances objectives in the City of St. Louis Sustainability Plan, and carries out a priority in the Mayor's Sustainability Action Agenda. The Mayor led the effort by having the City create 50 monarch gardens in 2014; most of these gardens are located at fire houses and City parks across the City. The Mayor challenged the community to plant an additional 200 monarch gardens to celebrate the City's 250th birthday. The program was expanded in 2015 to reach further into the community and to schools, and was expanded in 2016 to launch a St. Louis Riverfront Butterfly Byway.  News and resources relating to monarch gardens are listed below. Learn more about why the Mayor launched this exciting initiative:

  • The City received the GRO1000 Gardens & Greenspaces national award to create monarch habitat areas along the St. Louis Riverfront Butterfly Byway (Jan 2016)
  • Milkweeds for Monarchs: The St. Louis Butterfly Project was featured in the December American Planning Association's Urban Design & Preservation publication, titled "St. Louis is Aflutter for Monarchs" (Dec 2015)
  • Catherine Werner's webinar presentation on urban monarch conservation, featuring Milkweeds for Monarchs (July 2015)
  • City of St. Louis received an $80,000 grant from USFWS (June 2015).

Steps to Creating and Caring For Your Monarch Garden

Below are step by step instructions, with associated guidance materials, that are specific to a monarch garden. For information on creating a pollinator garden, you may also want to visit this How To guide from the City's Sustainable Neighborhood Toolkit.
  1. DESIGN: Review the STL Monarch Mix list of recommended plants. 
  2. FIND: Check the Finding Plants Guide if you need assistance locating STL Monarch Mix plants. 
  3. CREATE: The back side of the Milkweeds for Monarchs Overview Brochure has instructions for how to create a garden. 
  4. SIGN: Register your new Monarch garden (see below), request a free garden sign, and be kept apprised of events.
  5. CARE: Follow the Plant Care Tips when caring for your Monarch garden.
  6. SHARE: Enjoy your garden and the butterflies that visit! Share photos via or Tweet them to @GreeninSTL.
  7. Use the Journey North app to report your monarch sightings.

Milkweeds for Monarchs Garden Criteria 

We encourage you to meet the following criteria to register your garden on the City's map:
  • Garden must be in the City of St. Louis.
  • Garden should be newly planted in 2014-16 (this may include adding STL Monarch Mix plants to a pre-existing garden).
  • Garden should contain 4 milkweed plants representing at least 2 different milkweed species (example: 2 Butterfly Weed plants and 2 Swamp Milkweed plants).
  • Garden should contain 5 nectar plants representing at least 3 different species (example: 2 Purple Coneflower plants, 2 Goldenrod plants, and 1 Black-Eyed Susan plant).
  • In total, garden should contain a minimum of 9 plants, covering at least one square meter (approximately 9 square feet).

Register your monarch garden and collect your free yard sign

Register your Garden to have it appear on the citywide map, and to help us count the number of monarch gardens created in the City. After you have registered your garden,  provide the garden address to the City's Monarch Assistant, Elizabeth Ward, by sending her an email at You can pick up your sign at Brightside St. Louis, located at 4646 Shenandoah, St. Louis, MO 63110. Yard signs are in short supply, and will be distributed on a first come-first serve basis.

View Map and Description of Monarch Gardens registered in the City of St. Louis to check on the citywide progress!

Other Monarch Information

Check out the following resources to learn more about monarchs and monarch gardens:

Tips on how to successfully grow milkweed (from Monarch Watch)

Backyard Habitat Requirements for Monarch Butterflies

Bee-Toxic Pesticides Found in “Bee-Friendly” Plants Sold at Garden Centers Gardeners Beware 2014 Report

Guide to Native Milkweeds-Pollinator Plants of the Central United States

Plant Ecology, Seed Production Methods, and Habitat Restoration Opportunities: Milkweeds-A Conservation Practitioner's Guide

List of midwestern Best Nectar Plants for Monarchs

Conservation Status and Ecology of the Monarch Butterfly in the United States

Evaluation of Butterfly Gardens for Restoring Habitat for the Monarch Butterfly

Selected Readings and Resources, such as monarch-related curriculum materials, citizen science and field guides

Monarch Butterfly Conservation Webinar Series presented by the Monarch Joint Venture and the United States Fish & Wildlife Service

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