What Can I Plant with Milkweed?
Locally native Milkweed is an absolute must-have for California gardens—the fate of our monarch butterfly populations depends on it! You can read more about the importance of Milkweed for Monarchs here. However, we have to admit; it doesn’t quite have the aesthetic appeal of many of our other favorite garden plants. More than a few folks ask us, “What can I plant along with Milkweed to make my garden prettier?”
If you want all the benefits of a pollinator-friendly garden, plus plenty of beautiful blooms and vibrant foliage to liven up the landscape, here’s our guide to framing Milkweed with naturalistic plants.
What Can I Plant With Milkweed?
As we’ve discussed many times before, it’s absolutely essential that we plant locally-native Narrow-Leaf Milkweed. Tropical Milkweed can pose a significant threat to monarch populations because the foliage doesn’t die back over the winter, and harmful protozoa can remain on the plant. When butterfly larvae eat the plant, they ingest the protozoa, leading to illness or death. Tropical Milkweeds also appear to be interfering with the normal migratory behavior of monarchs because they are evergreen and provide food year-round,
Determining the most compatible plants to include in your garden includes making sure they have similar care requirements. Luckily, there’s a simple way to do this if you’re planting Native Milkweed: opt for other plants that naturally occur in California! California native varieties have adapted to thrive in our climate with little maintenance or intervention required. Plus, pollinators like native bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds love them because they’re easy to recognize! After all, everyone loves food that reminds them of home.
The Best California Native Plants to Frame Your Milkweed
Native Milkweed prefers 6–8 hours of full sun per day, so as long as you choose native California plants that thrive in direct sunlight, you shouldn’t encounter any issues. Here are our favorite varieties to plant alongside your Native Milkweed!
Tiny, delicate blooms form little clusters like fluffy clouds, bringing a sweet and serene aesthetic to the landscape. Yarrow is ideal for planting along pathways and borders or filling the gaps between larger plants. It can even support a bit of foot traffic, so if you’ve got dogs or kids that like to run around outside, Yarrow is an excellent choice.
For long-lasting color that never fails to impress, plant some Coral Bells, also known as Heuchera. This fabulous foliage plant has ruffled leaves that come in a stunning spectrum of rainbow colors, like bronze, electric lime green, ruby red, plum purple, and black! Their flowers are considered insignificant, but the hummingbirds disagree—they love to sip from Heuchera’s nectar-filled blooms!
A native to California foothills and coastlines, including right here in Orange County, this magnificent plant has blazing red blooms that light up the landscape. It technically isn’t a true Fuchsia plant—it just earned that nickname due to its resemblance to the Fuchsia—and some refer to it as the “Hummingbird Plant,” due to its signature tubular blooms in hummingbirds’ favorite color! Its foliage has a lovely muted, gray-green tone that brings stunning visual contrast to your garden’s other foliage plants.
Penstemon “Margarita Bop”
The neon purple blooms of this native Penstemon hybrid are absolutely breathtaking! With vibrant magenta throats that transition to a cool indigo shade near the petals’ edges, these jewel tone beauties will add some serious wow factor to your garden.
Also known as Mimulus, these California natives are some of the best tubular flowers for hummingbirds. Each bloom is like a miniature goblet filled with sweet nectar from which birds can easily sip. There are tons of amazing colors to choose from, whether you prefer delicate pastels or bright, high-impact hues. There are even multi-colored Monkey Flowers with speckled or striped throats.
To see more of what you can plant with Milkweed in California, visit Roger’s Gardens to see all our other beautiful native plants! The monarch butterflies and all our other lovely local pollinators will be so grateful for all the pretty plants they can visit in your garden.
For more information, view: Save Monarch Butterflies - Why Should You Plant Native Milkweed vs Tropical Milkweed?, All About Our Native Milkweed, Monarchs & Milkweed • What Gardeners Need to Know, and All About Native Milkweed & Why It Saves Monarch Butterflies.