monarch butterfly

A new program through the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, Iowa, promotes planting gardens for pollinators such as monarch butterflies. (photo courtesy Blank Park Zoo)

Just love this new statewide program coming from the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines. The zoo is teaming up with 10 organizations to introduce Plant.Grow.Fly., a conservation effort to bring back native pollinators.

Through Plant.Grow.Fly., Iowans are encouraged to plant pollinator habitat in yards, schools and businesses.

Monarchs and bees are among the insects that need our help. This new initiative notes that each garden is important and no effort too small. Your garden can be as big as your entire backyard or as small as a single pot.

As you begin to plan your spring gardens, here is some of the useful advice that can be found on the Plant.Grow.Fly. website:

Butterflies are attracted to large splashes of color in the landscape. Planting in groupings of 3-5 of the same plant is important when creating these color splashes. Purchase plants of different heights, creating tiers within your landscaping.

Among the organizations backing this initiative are: Iowa State University’s Reiman Gardens, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Science Center of Iowa, Drake University, Polk County Conservation, Warren County Conservation, Madison County Conservation, Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden and DMACC West Campus as well as a national program, Monarch Joint Venture.

Here is more from the DNR about these efforts:

“One-third of our global food supply depends on pollinators and much of our world’s biodiversity relies on the services they provide. Pollinators, like butterflies and bees, are declining at an alarming rate in our rapidly changing environment,” said Jessie Lowry, Blank Park Zoo’s Conservation Coordinator.

Lowry said the Plant.Grow.Fly. project is developing a gardening how-to guide that can be found at

“Insects are an integral part of our environment, making more resources available will help to insure the survival of these amazing animals,” said Nathan Brockman, Butterfly Wing Curator at Reiman Gardens.

“Using region-specific garden recipes, you can plant the flowers and grasses that benefit our local species the most,” said Lowry. “We believe that no effort is too small and that each of us can do our part to preserve the biodiversity around us – just by planning gardens in our yards.”