The Monarch Waystation Garden at VISTA Gardens
This garden provides food and shelter for Monarch butterflies using sustainable gardening practices to continue supporting this endangered species into the future, meeting the requirements to be registered through https://www.monarchwatch.org/.
Monarch caterpillar feeding on White Swamp milkweed,
Monarch Waystation Garden in 2021
We plant various species of milkweed native to our region that mature and flower at different times during the season. By continuing to add new native species, monarchs use our habitat for a longer period during the breeding season. For example, in 2021, VISTA volunteers built a pergola to support White twinevine, Sarcostemma clausum, that provides more sustained foliage for these hungry caterpillars!
Pergola constructed to support White twinevine in August 2021
Monarch caterpillar feasting on White twinevine February 18, 2022
White twinevine bloom September 2021
White twinevine November 2022
Monarchs exclusively rely on Milkweed as their host plant. Host plants are where butterflies lay their eggs for the next generation and serve as a food source for the developing caterpillars. Known by Eric Carle’s popular children’s picture book, these “very hungry caterpillars” devour milkweed plants. The plants regenerate and new foliage soon appears.
Pink Swamp milkweed, Asclepias incarnata
Monarch butterfly emerged from chrysalis on April 1, 2020
Monarch caterpillar devouring Pink Swamp milkweed, Asclepias perennis
We grow many varieties of nectar plants to nourish many species of butterflies, as well as other pollinators.
Monarch on Spotted Water Hemlock, Cicuta maculata
Gulf Fritillary Monarch on Zinnia
Bumblebee on Tropical sage
Mistflower, Conoclinium coelestinum
Tropical Sage, Salvia coccinea
Growing milkweed and nectar plants close together provides shelter for monarchs and other wildlife to survive.
Firebush, Golden canna, Spotted water hemlock, Tropical sage, Coreopsis
Lanceleaf Coreopsis, Coreopsis lanceolata and Firebush, Hamelia patens
Firebush provides wonderful shelter monarchs and other wildlife to survive.
We tend this garden by irrigating, thinning, and pruning plants to avoid overcrowding, removing weeds and invasive plant species, mulching and incorporating additional features, such as puddle trays (where butterflies perch to gather nutrients) and a bench for observation.
Bench with Lavender and Yellow Anise, Illicium parviflorum
Red Torch Sunflower Tithonia rotundifolia with butterflies
The Monarch Waystation Garden receives more than the required minimum of 6 hours of sun each day necessary for this habitat.
To protect the lives of butterflies and their fellow pollinators, we do not use insecticides.
Fledgling Monarch Waystation Garden, March 2020
Painted rock – Life
Bouquets from Vista Gardens April 30 2022, Photo by Mark Shallabarger
We incorporate a variety of plants, including some annuals such as (the non-invasive) Red Torch Sunflower Tithonia rotundifolia, Zinnia and Cosmos. Our perennial plants are mostly moisture loving, as this garden is in a low-lying area that has very moist-to-wet soil during Central Florida’s rainy season.
Scarlet Hibiscus, Hibiscus coccineus
Narrowleaf sunflower bloom
Wild petunia, Ruellia caroliniensis
Serving milkweed to support endangered Monarch butterflies at VISTA Gardens!
Bandanna-of-the-Everglades or Yellow Canna, Canna flaccida
Spotted hemlock, Cicuta maculate
American beautyberry, Callicarpa americana
Spiderwort, Tradescantia ohiensis and Spotted hemlock, Cicuta maculata
Narrowleaf sunflower, Helianthus angustifolius
Virginia saltmarsh mallow, Kosteletzkya pentacarpos
Monarch caterpillar on new Pink Swamp milkweed leaves
Perennial native plants growing in VISTA’s Monarch Waystation:
Bandanna-of-the-Everglades or Yellow Canna, Canna flaccida https://www.flawildflowers.org/flower-friday-canna-flaccida/
Blue Porterweed, Stachytarpheta jamaicensis https://www.flawildflowers.org/flower-friday-stachytarpheta-jamaicensis/
Butterfly milkweed, Asclepias tuberosa https://www.flawildflowers.org/flower-friday-asclepias-tuberosa/