Best Types of Milkweed To Grow In Your Region For More Monarch Butterflies

Support monarch butterflies in your garden by planting the right types of milkweed for your region. Find out what varieties you should grow with this simple guide.

Milkweed blooms in the sunlight
(Image credit: karayuschij / Getty Images)

With use of agricultural herbicides and other human interference with nature, milkweed plants are not as widely available for monarch butterflies these days. Continue reading to learn more about the different types of milkweed you can grow to help future generations of monarch butterflies.

Different Types of Milkweed

With monarch butterfly populations having dropped more than 90% in the last twenty years because of a loss of host plants, growing different milkweed plants is very important for the future of monarchs.

Milkweed plants are the monarch butterfly’s only host plant. In midsummer, female monarch butterflies visit milkweed to drink its nectar and lay eggs. When these eggs hatch into tiny monarch caterpillars, they immediately begin to feed on the leaves of their milkweed host. After a couple weeks of feeding, a monarch caterpillar will seek out a safe place to form its chrysalis, where it will become a butterfly.

Best Milkweed Varieties by Region

With over 100 native species of milkweed plants in the United States, almost anyone can find the right milkweed plant types for their area. Many types of milkweed are specific to certain regions of the country.

Below is a list of different types of milkweed and their native regions. This list does not contain all varieties of milkweed, just the best kinds of milkweed to support monarchs in your region.


The Northeast Region runs down through the center of North Dakota through Kansas, then east through Virginia and includes all states north of this. Here are the best milkweed varieties for this area of the country:


The Southeast Region runs from Arkansas through North Carolina, including all states south of this through Florida. The best milkweed varieties for the Southeast are:

  • Swamp milkweed (A. incarnata)
  • Butterfly weed (A. tuberosa)
  • Whorled milkweed (A. verticillata)
  • Aquatic milkweed (A. perennis)
  • White milkweed (A. variegata)
  • Sandhill milkweed (A. humistrata)

South Central

The South Central Region includes Texas and Oklahoma. There are three milkweed varieties suited to this area. They are:

  • Antelopehorn milkweed (A. asperula)
  • Green Antelopehorn milkweed (A. viridis)
  • Zizotes milkweed (A. oenotheroides)


The West Region includes all western states except for California and Arizona, which are both considered individual regions. For the West, these are the best milkweed varieties to plant:

  • Mexican Whorled milkweed (A. fascicularis)
  • Showy milkweed (A. speciosa)


For gardeners in Arizona, there are four different types of milkweed they can plant. They are:

  • Butterfly weed (A. tuberosa)
  • Arizona milkweed (A. angustifolia)
  • Rush milkweed (A. subulata)
  • Antelopehorn milkweed (A. asperula)


California gardeners have many varieties of milkweed to choose from. Some of the best California milkweed varieties include:

  • Woolly Pod milkweed (A. eriocarpa)
  • Woolly milkweed (A. vestita)
  • Heartleaf milkweed (A. cordifolia)
  • California milkweed (A. california)
  • Desert milkweed (A. crosa)
  • Showy milkweed (A. speciosa)
  • Mexican Whorled milkweed (A. fascicularis)

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Darcy Larum