“In the past, we have asked one thing of our gardens: that they be pretty. Now they have to support life, sequester carbon, feed pollinators and manage water.” -Doug Tallamy

An easy way to help pollinators is by converting non-native gardens and yards into native pollinator habitat. Planting with natives can be easy. Start by integrating native plants into your existing flower beds or transform small spaces such as by the mailbox, on berms, or in flood-prone areas of your yard. You can convert large portions or all of your yard to natives if you have the resources. If your HOA still wants a monoculture front yard, pull a mullet! Keep the front yard traditionally manicured but let the backyard go crazy with natives.

When planning your pollinator habitat, keep in mind what you want it to look like throughout different seasons. Habitats should include varying bloom times, shapes, colors, heights, and nectar sources. The more diverse your habitat, the more pollinators it attracts. Our members at Grow Native! and the St. Louis Zoo created a Pollinator Garden Menu Card with flowering plants that ensure a diverse garden from Spring through Autumn.

Don’t forget to include milkweed in your habitat! Milkweeds are the required host plants for monarch butterfly caterpillars (female monarchs lay their eggs on milkweeds), and their flowers provide nectar for bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects. Missouri is home to 18 native milkweed species.

Below are the seven native species most commonly available for purchase:

Name Sun Exposure    Soil Moisture Height Spread
Common milkweed

(Asclepias syriaca)

Full Dry 36 to 60 in 24 to 36 in
Butterfly milkweed

(Asclepias tuberosa)

Full Dry 18 to 24 in 18 to 24 in
Swamp milkweed

(Asclepias incarnata)

Full/Part Shade Moderate/High 36 to 60 in 24 to 36 in
Sullivant’s milkweed

(Asclepias sullivantii)

Full Moderate 30 to 42 in 18 to 36 in
Whorled milkweed

(Asclepias verticillate)

Full Dry/Moderate 18 to 24 in 12 to 18 in

Purple milkweed

(Asclepias purpurascens)

Full/Part Shade Dry/Moderate 30 to 48 in 18 to 24 in
Spider milkweed

(Asclepias viridis)

Full Dry/Moderate 18 to 24 in 12 to 24 in
Other Milkweeds Native to Missouri
  • Sand milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis)
  • Poke/tall milkweed (Asclepias exaltata)
  • Prairie/Tall green milkweed (Asclepias hirtella)
  • Mead’s milkweed (Asclepias meadii)
  • White/smoothseed milkweed (Asclepias perennis)
  • Whorled/fourleaf milkweed (Asclepias quadrifolia)
  • Showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa)
  • Narrow-leaved milkweed (Asclepias stenophylla)
  • Horsetail milkweed (Asclepias subverticillata)
  • Variegated milkweed (Asclepias variegate)
  • Green milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora)

More Resources

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Garden plans, Native Plant Lists, Seeding instructions, etc.