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Butterflies

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/.

1 Monarch caterpillar on Milkweed, July 8, 2020.jpg

Monarch caterpillar feeding on White Swamp milkweed, 
Asclepias perennis 

2 Monarch Waystation Garden in  February 2021.jpg

Monarch Waystation Garden in 2021

1 Monarch caterpillar on Milkweed, July 8, 2020.jpg

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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!

3 Pergola constructed to support White twinevine in August 2021.jpg

Pergola constructed to support White twinevine in August 2021

6 Monarch caterpillar feasting on Twinevine in the Monarch Waystation Garden, February 18,

Monarch caterpillar feasting on White twinevine February 18, 2022

4 White twinevine bloom September 2021.jpg

White twinevine bloom September 2021

5 White twinevine, November 2022.jpg

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. 

7  Pink Swamp milkweed, Asclepias incarnata.jpg

Pink Swamp milkweed, Asclepias incarnata 

10 Emerged from chrysalis April 1, 2020.jpg

Monarch butterfly emerged from chrysalis on April 1, 2020

8 Monarch caterpillar devouring Pink Swamp milkweed, Asclepias perennis.jpg

Monarch caterpillar devouring Pink Swamp milkweed, Asclepias perennis

9 Monarch butterfly chrysalis.jpg

Monarch chrysalis   

We grow many varieties of nectar plants to nourish many species of butterflies, as well as other pollinators.

11 Monarch on Spotted Water Hemlock, May 17, 2022.jpg

Monarch on Spotted Water Hemlock, Cicuta maculata

14 Gulf Fritillary  Monarch on Zinnia.jpg

Gulf Fritillary  Monarch on Zinnia

12 Bumblebee on Tropical sage, Salvia coccinea.jpg

Bumblebee on Tropical sage 

15 Mistflower, November 7, 2022.jpg

Mistflower, Conoclinium coelestinum

13 Tropical Sage, Salvia coccinea.jpg

Tropical Sage, Salvia coccinea

Growing milkweed and nectar plants close together provides shelter for monarchs and other wildlife to survive.

16 Firebush, Golden canna, Spotted water hemlock, Tropical sage, Coreopsis in  Monarch Way

Firebush, Golden canna, Spotted water hemlock, Tropical sage, Coreopsis 

17 Lanceleaf Coreopsis, Coreopsis lanceolata and Firebush, Hamelia patens in bloom, Octobe

Lanceleaf Coreopsis, Coreopsis lanceolata and Firebush, Hamelia patens

18 Firebush provides shelter.jpg

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.    

19 Puddle Tray.jpg

Puddle tray

20 Bench with Lavender and Yellow Anise, Illicium parviflorum.jpg

Bench with Lavender and  Yellow Anise, Illicium parviflorum

21 Mexican Sunflowers - Torch, with butterflies, June 15, 2019.jpg

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.

22 Fledgling Monarch Waystation Garden, March 2020.jpg

Fledgling Monarch Waystation Garden, March 2020

23 Painted rock.jpg

Painted rock – Life

24 Vista Gardens April 30 2022, Photo by Mark Shallabarger.jpg

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.   

25 Scarlet Hibiscus, Hibiscus coccineus.jpg

Scarlet Hibiscus, Hibiscus coccineus

28 Narrowleaf sunflower bloom.jpg

Narrowleaf sunflower bloom

31 Wild petunia, Ruellia caroliniensis.jpg

Wild petunia, Ruellia caroliniensis

34 Serving milkweed at VISTA Gardens!.jpg

Serving milkweed to support endangered Monarch butterflies at VISTA Gardens!

26 Bandanna-of-the-Everglades or Yellow Canna, Canna flaccida.jpg

Bandanna-of-the-Everglades or Yellow Canna, Canna flaccida

29 Spotted hemlock,  Cicuta maculata.jpg

Spotted hemlock, Cicuta maculate

32 American beautyberry Callicarpa americana.jpg

American beautyberry, Callicarpa americana

35 Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis) and Spotted water hemlock (Cicuta maculata) April 13

Spiderwort, Tradescantia ohiensis and Spotted hemlock, Cicuta maculata

27 Narrowleaf sunflower, Helianthus angustifolius.jpg

Narrowleaf sunflower, Helianthus angustifolius

30 Virginia saltmarsh mallow, Kosteletzkya pentacarpos.jpg

Virginia saltmarsh mallow, Kosteletzkya pentacarpos

33 Monarch caterpillar on new Pink Swamp milkweed leaves.jpg

Monarch caterpillar on new Pink Swamp milkweed leaves

Perennial native plants growing in VISTA’s Monarch Waystation:

American beautyberry, Callicarpa americanahttps://www.flawildflowers.org/flower-friday-callicarpa-americana/

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/

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