Got milkweed?


Photo by Dirck Harris, Fairfax Master Naturalist

Or tickseed, black-eyed Susans or Joe-Pye weed? Or any other native plant that would attract butterflies, hummingbirds or bees or provide nutrition to caterpillars?

We’re planning to expand our pollinator gardens to support threatened species, and we’d love your help. If you happen to have extra seeds or native plants in your garden, let us take them off your hands.

Native plants that we’re looking for include but aren’t limited to common milkweed, butterflyweed, coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, bee balm, Joe-Pye weed, turtlehead, tickseed (coreopsis), New Jersey tea, blueberries, sunflowers, phlox, wild sweet William, liatris, evening primroses, goldenrod and asters. If you have any questions or a donation, contact me at 

Asclepia syriaca and monarch, scudera

Photo by Kim Scudera, Fairfax Master Naturalist

You’ve probably heard about the decline of bees. The alarms are sounding now about the monarch, whose population has hit a record low of about 33 million in the Mexican forest where most (but not all) monarchs overwinter. In better times, the butterfly inhabited about 45 acres of the forest; this year, the Mexican government reports they are occupying a space about the length of one and a half football fields.

We’re definitely looking for more milkweed for our gardens: Monarch caterpillars eat only the leaves of milkweed plants and monarch butterflies, which feed on the nectar of a number of flowers, will breed only on milkweed.

But, because we’re on the edge of the monarch’s migration path and at the best of times only see a small number of them passing through, we want to make sure to provide for our year-round residents and other migrants. Habitat loss is a problem for pollinators across the board.

Interested in starting or expanding a pollinator garden in your own yard? One of the best websites for figuring out which plants to pick is the Pollinator Partnership’s zip code-identified, online ecoregion planting guides. In addition to the detailed plant lists, the guides also cover US bioregions and the pollinators local to them. Another great resource is Best Nectar Plants for Monarchs and Other Butterflies.


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