Midwestern Milkweeds

What are Pollinators and Pollinator Habitat?

Whorled Milkweed
Asclepias verticillata
Prairies and open areas.
Photo © Kim Davis & Mike Stangeland

Bees have been called the "spark plugs" of agriculture.  This is because bees, along with other winged pollinators, including beetles, moths, butterflies, flies, birds and other animals are responsible for up to a third of the food we eat. We can take a walk through a local farmers market to see the "fruits" of their labor. At a very basic level, without sufficient numbers of pollinators, we couldn't grow the crops we need for food, as it's estimated that 1/3 of our food crops require pollination (including 3/4 of our staple crops), and pollinating  those plants without the aid of pollinators would be virtually impossible, or at least financially unsustainable. To foster better local environments for pollinators, we can take steps in our own yards, gardens, and neighborhoods, to create pollinator-friendly habitat, which can help support healthy ecosystems.

Swamp Milkweed
Asclepias incarnata
Damp, marshy areas

Photo by: Janet Allen

Purple Milkweed
Asclepias purpurascens
Well drained soils.
Photo by: Unknown

Whorled Milkweed
Asclepias verticillata
Prairies and open areas.
Photo © Kim Davis & Mike Stangeland

Create and improve pollinator habitat across the State of Ohio.


Butterfly Milkweed
Asclepias tuberosa
Well drained soils.
Photo by: Thomas Muller 

Increase and improve pollinator conservation for all Ohioans.

Planting a variety of flowering plants, especially native plants, is a great start for supporting pollinators, and  when doing so, try to choose varieties that have overlapping flowering periods (for continuous blooms throughout the year) that effectively extend the nectar and pollen season with early spring flowers and late fall flowers. Planting both large and small scale wildflower plots that contain beneficial, low maintenance species is important for all pollinators. Additionally, planting milkweed for Monarchs is vital. Milkweed is the sole host plant for Monarch butterflies. This particular plant is lacking on the landscape and has had a direct effect on Monarch populations. Below are several milkweed species that can be planted within the Midwest region.

Sullivant's Milkweed

Asclepias sullicantii
Praries, meadows, moist soils

Photo by: Thomas Muller