Native Plants for Pollinators

Citizens in the Midwest and beyond are concerned about the dramatic drop in pollinator populations. Caterpillars need native plants for food (host plants). Adult pollinators, including butterflies, moths, bees and other beneficial insects need nectar sources throughout their lives. Here is how you can attract and sustain pollinators on your farm, at your home and in your city.

Start with the Grow Native! Top-10 Lists for Pollinators


Buy Native Plants
Start Your School Pollinator Garden with Grow Native!

Grow Native! and Greenscape Gardens team up to bring you a fun guide through the basics of butterfly gardening! Learn about host plants, nectar and pollen sources, and how to have bug friends all season long. Watch the video here.

Support Monarch Butterflies

Citizens in Missouri and far beyond are concerned about the dramatic drop in monarch butterfly populations, which is due in large part to the decline of the monarch butterfly caterpillar host plants, milkweed species (Asclepias) across its North American migratory route. Plants that provide nectar sources for adult butterflies—as well as many, many other beneficial insects including numerous pollinators—are also of critical importance.
Below is information and links to resources that can help you help monarchs!
  • Read all about Butterfly Milkweed on our Fact Sheet.
  • Conserving original habitat for monarch butterflies, including prairies, as well as establishing milkweed and nectar plant in developed landscapes—farmland, other rural areas, and in yards, school grounds, parks, and corporate campuses—is of critical importance.
  • If you are a Spanish speaker or know Spanish speakers, share with them this Monarch and Milkweed Fact Sheet in Spanish, written by Dr. Nadia Navarrete-Tindall of Lincoln University’s Cooperative Extension.
  • Milkweeds & Monarchs, 16-page booklet from the Missouri Department of Conservation, provides great information on what you can do to help conserve monarch butterflies. The Missouri Prairie Foundation and its Grow Native! program are partners with the Missouri Department of Conservation and many other conservation and agricultural groups working together as the Missouri Monarch and Pollinator Collaborative on the conservation of these important insects.

Plant milkweeds and nectar plants and seeds

The following plants are linked to descriptive pages about each species from the Missouri Prairie Foundation’s Grow Native! Native Plant Database.

The following milkweed species native to Missouri are particularly important for monarchs: marsh/swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), and butterfly milkweed (Asclepius tuberosa).

A few of the many nectar plants that are important to monarchs and many other insect species are eastern blazing star (Liatris scariosa), New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae), showy goldenrod (Solidago speciosa), and purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea).

You can purchase seeds and plants of these species from Grow Native! Professional Members who are retail garden centers, nurseries, or see producers. Find seed and plant vendors with our online Resource Guide and note which businesses sell retail, wholesale, and/or mail order.


If you are a retail garden center and want to buy native milkweed plants from wholesalers, contact a Grow Native! wholesaler and ask to buy milkweed plants with Monarch Café plant tags, a marketing tool created by Grow Native! Monarch Café tags are available for purchase by Grow Native! supporting members and sponsors. These tags are available for Asclepias tuberosa, A. incarnata, A. syriaca, A. verticillata, A. sullivantii, A. viridis, and A. viridiflora. Read more at right.


Monarch butterfly
Photo by Noppadol Paothong

Plant Tags

Monarch CafePollinator Buffet

Monarch Café and Pollinator Buffet are a series of speciality plant tags to help market the ecological services of natives that are especially important to monarch butteries and many insect pollinators.

Download PDFs of our Pollinator Buffet and Monarch Café cards!

Monarch Cafe


Eight featured milkweed species and associated pollinators native to the Lower Midwest
The foliage of these milkweed species native to the lower Midwest provide food for monarch caterpillars.

 Learn more about each species through our Native Plant Database:


Pollinator Buffet

Eleven featured native plant species and associated native pollinators to help native gardening/landscaping enthusiasts get started helping pollinators.
Learn more about each species through our Native Plant Database:

Learn more about native plant benefits to pollinators

These Missouri Prairie Journal articles get in-depth on how native plants sustain vibrant habitats for native bees, butterflies, moths and other insects:


Prairie Paparazzi: Documenting the Regal Fritillary, Vol. 38, No. 2, 2017
Grow Native!: Gardening for Bumble Bees, Vol. 37, No. 3 & 4, 2016
Prairie Moths, Vol. 37, No. 2, 2016
Missouri Gets Moving for Monarchs, Vol. 36, No. 3, 2015
Native Bee-Plant Relationships on Missouri Prairies, Vol. 36, No. 1, 2015
MPF Prairie Bee Survey, Vol. 36, No. 1, 2015
How Good are Plant Pollinator Hosts?, Vol. 30, No. 2, 2009
Prairie Odonates: Dragonflies and Damselflies of our Grasslands, Vol. 35, No. 2, 2014
Prairie Planthoppers: An Interview with Dr. Stephen W. Wilson, Vol. 34, No. 2, 2013
Saving Endangered Beetle Species, Vol. 33, No. 2, 2012
Cantrell: The Milkweed Connection Part One – Establishing an Outdoor Learning Station, Vol. 33, No. 1, 2012
Cantrell: The Milkweed Connection Part Two – Using an Outdoor Learning Station, Vol 33, No. 2, 2012
Cantrell: The Milkweed Connection Part Three – Advancing the Conservation Efforts of a Species with an Outdoor Learning Station, Vol 33, No. 3, 2012
Beyond the Bees: Entomologist’s Insect Collection of Prairie Visitors, Vol. 32, No. 2, 2011
More Than Bees, If You Please! A Primer to Prairie Wildflower Visitor Ecology, Vol. 32, No. 2, 2011
Cantrell: Fishing for Pink Katydids, Vol. 32, No. 2, 2011
Missouri Biologist Discovers Two Prairie Bees New to Science, Vol. 32, No. 3, 2011
Special Package Delivery: Milkweed Pollination, Vol. 31, No. 2, 2010
Meet the Bees: Native Bee Pollination and Prairie Ecosystem Health, Vol. 31, No. 2, 2010
What is a Prairie Without Native Bees?, Vol. 31, No. 2, 2010
Plant-Pollinator Interactions on Prairies and Glades: Implications for Endemism, Vol. 30, No. 3 & 4, 2009
Missouri’s Rare Prairie Butterflies, Vol. 28, No. 2, 2007
Macroinvertebrate Communities in Missouri Prairie Streams, Vol. 38, No. 3 & 4, 2017
Grasshoppers, Glades, and Ecological Gradients, Vol. 39, No. 1, 2018
Native Landscaping for Skippers, Vol. 39, No. 1, 2018