Mulch can help conserve water. The flowers are a great source of nectar for butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, and other beneficial insects. Get seed tray with drainage holes and fill it with a germinating mix. As the plants can be toxic, consumption of the plant protects caterpillars from predators. Learn all about Butterfly Milkweed, or Asclepias tuberosa, in this gardener's guide of this beautiful plant, including plant care, common types, and more. Monarch Watch: Milkweed Tips Start seeds indoors in trays, with seed lightly covered with vermiculite and kept at 70 to 75 F six to eight weeks before the outdoor planting season for a faster start. Leaves grow from a thick stalk and are large and green, taking on a reddish color as the plant matures. Milkweed is best grown in naturalized areas and meadows as it tends to spread and take over more formal... Milkweed and Larvae. Grow Milkweed plants with tubular-shaped, shorter flowers in front of them to offer more pollen to our flying friends. Milkweed often does not begin growing in northern gardens in time to be fully beneficial to butterflies. If they will not open when you squeeze them, the seeds are not ready for harvest. The most serious issue is its aggressive spreading habit. If desired, plant into containers and place under a grow light inside about six weeks before soil temperatures outside have warmed. The bloodflower, or Asclepias curassavica, is a tropical milkweed that is native to the American tropics, which includes the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Plant into containers, if desired, and place under a grow light inside about six weeks before soil temperatures outside have warmed. Stems become hollow and hairy as the plant matures. Milkweeds are herbaceous perennials that flower throughout the summer, set seed and then naturally die back in fall, going dormant to sprout anew in spring. Milkweed is also well known for attracting butterflies and serving as a host plant for their caterpillars. Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →, Butterfly Society of Virginia: Growing Milkweed. All milkweed plants are vital to the life cycle of monarch butterflies. Milkweed Plant is an upright specimen that may reach 2 to 6 feet (0.6 to 1.8 m). The Milkweed flower is pink to purple to orange and blooms from June to August. Milkweed is the poster plant for pollinator gardens. In summer, spent milkweed flowers can be deadheaded to prolong the blooming period. Fertilize the milkweed plants approximately three weeks after planting, and then one to two more times (spacing the fertilization approximately one month apart). Start with healthy plants that have developed root systems. It is widely considered one of the most beautiful varieties of milkweed, which has made it a popular addition to butterfly gardens across the United States as gardeners swapped out their native milkweed varieties … Description Desert Milkweed, Asclepias subulata, has slender gray-green stems that grow vertically to 4 feet from a woody base.The plant’s spread can reach 2 feet or more. Stratification is when a seed is moistened, chilled or frozen and thawed, breaking down germination inhibitors on the seed coat, such as waxes, hormones, oils or heavy coats. Place seeds into a container of moist soil, cover with a plastic bag and refrigerate for at least three weeks. Refrigerate the bag of seeds for at least two weeks. Asclepias incarnata 'Cinderella' (Swamp Milkweed) is an erect, clump-forming perennial prized for its brilliant clusters of vanilla scented, rose-pink flowers, which bloom continuously for weeks from midsummer to early fall. Seeds from some species require cold stratification, so if you let the seeds disperse they will sit dormant in the garden until spring. Squeeze them carefully to see whether they open. Seeds must be sown indoors, however, under the correct conditions for the plant to thrive. Native to South Africa, this plant is an invasive in tropical climates, but in my zone 6-7 area, winter cold keep it in check. Wait until the seeds open easily when you squeeze them gently. It’s a statuesque plant that likes part shade, sandy soil, and fairly dry conditions. Prune back the milkweed plants by half when they are approximately 6 inches tall to encourage full and bushy growth. Most milkweeds require full sun (at least 6 to 8 hours a day). As Vicki from Tampa writes, cats like tropical milkweed and native milkweed better than the tough leaves of calotropis, but I’ll continue to grow it for its beauty. I generally winter sow, as that is the easiest if you are trying to get a set number of plants. Periodically, you may need to dig up the plants during fall and discard all but selected portions of the roots to keep the plant tamed in the garden. Keep the soil moist by misting, but seeds can rot if allowed to sit in soggy soil. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Milkweed seeds need to be stratified to help them germinate. If you require more Asclepias plants then you should (very) carefully take root cuttings in the spring. Space plants about 2 feet (60 cm) apart if planting in a row. Apply the fertilizer around the base of the milkweed plants, taking care not to splash fertilizer onto the plant foliage to prevent burning. Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map! Copyright Leaf Group Ltd. // Leaf Group Lifestyle. Keep this plastic bag with your seeds in the refrigerator for 1-2 months. Directly sow your seeds in the garden in the late fall, and let the winter weather take care of cold stratification for you! After wetting and preparing the growing medium, add one to three seeds per pod. Growing milkweed is easy, as the plant basically takes care of itself once established. Eventually the caterpillars will spin their cocoons, attaching them to the leaves and stems of the milkweed plants. Seed Control. When the soil dries, water the planting area again to moisten it without over-saturating it. Asclepias incarnata typically grow from two to four feet (0.6 to 1.2 m) high, making them excellent border plants. With their fragrant flowers, which grow in clusters like little bells, all Milkweed Plants are a magnet for butterflies. How To Plant Milkweed: Step-By-Step Instructions. Caring for Milkweed and other Asclepias. Provide regular water for the milkweed plants to keep the soil evenly moist throughout the growing season. Place seeds into a container of moist soil, cover with a plastic bag and refrigerate for at least three weeks. Removing seed pods will prevent the plant from self-seeding far and wide. Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. All rights reserved. Milkweed belongs to the genus Asclepias, which has many different species spread out through America and Mexico. How to Grow Milkweed Plant from Seed. There are no serious disease or pest problems with common milkweed. A little known fact is that monarch caterpillars feed only on milkweed species. Some gardeners grow milkweed for its medicinal benefits and others enjoy the winged visitors it attracts. Milkweed seed planted in fall is naturally stratified. Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) produces green foliage through spring and summer and clusters of small red, orange or yellow flowers. Milkweed plants benefit from vernalization, a process of cold treatment, before sprouting. When planted outside, they get this but to speed up the growing process and treat the seeds through stratification. Take care of milkweed plants to ensure a thriving milkweed patch in your landscape. In youth, leaves are waxy, pointed, and dark green, later dropping from the stem and allowing the milky substance to exude from the growing milkweed. If youre planting milkweed from seed, sow the seeds outdoors in the fall, which will give them the period of stratification (exposure to cold, moist c… They get this when planted outside, but to speed up the growing process, treat the seeds through stratification. Learn more about milkweed seed saving here . Some gardeners grow milkweed for its medicinal benefits and others enjoy the winged visitors it attracts. Milkweed plants grow well in dry or loamy soil as long as the area drains well. Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) and its cousin Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) are an integral part of the butterfly garden, a nectar source for butterflies and hummingbirds. Not only is it attractive, it's an important nectar source for bees and other insects. They get this when planted outside, but to speed up the growing process, treat the seeds through stratification. … If you’re cold stratifying the seeds yourself… Start the seeds, preferably in peat pods. Other plants can provide nectar for the adult butterflies, but without butterfly weed and other varieties of milkweed, the caterpillars can’t survive. Plant seeds of the Milkweed Plant indoors or direct sow outside after danger of frost has passed, and soil has warmed. Get a paper towel wet, squeeze it out, and place your milkweed seeds on it in a single layer. Start milkweed seeds indoors 8 to 12 weeks before the last frost in your area. The life cycle of monarch butterflies unfolds amidst milkweed plants as female monarch butterflies lay eggs on milkweed leaves. Make sure there are no monarch eggs on the foliage before you prune. Put the seeds and paper towels in a plastic bag and seal it shut. The Rose Milkweed, otherwise known as the Asclepias Incarnata or Swamp Milkweed, Pink Milkweed, is a somewhat well known perennial plant native to the Northeast, Rocky Mountains, Southeast, Pacific Northwest, and the Southwest of the United States.. Best known for its low maintenance and fast growth, this perennial will likely liven up your house (or garden) with its green … Milkweed plants are known to spread so if you do not have room for more milkweed plants, cut the pods off in the fall when the pods are tan and the seeds are coffee brown. Copyright © 2013-2020 World of Flowering Plants. Asclepias, commonly known as Milkweed Plants or Milkweeds, is an American genus of herbaceous perennial, dicotyledonous plants that contain over 140 known species. Apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch around the planting area to keep the soil moist and control weed growth around the milkweeds. Select The Right Site Best flowering usually occurs in full sun except for a few species such as Asclepias purpurascens (Purple Milkweed), which prefers partial shade. You can easily grow Milkweeds to attract the Monarch and other flying creatures to your garden. Leaves 2 inches long by 1/8-inch-wide appear on new growth but soon drop. Monarch butterflies have suffered a severe population decline and you can help provide habitat for them during their migration by growing milkweed. Milkweed plants benefit from vernalization, a process of cold treatment, before sprouting. Water your newly planted milkweeds daily for at least two weeks during the dry season (October-May) until the roots are established. All Rights Reserved. Keep the soil moist by misting, but seeds can rot if allowed to sit in soggy soil. Here are some facts about this amazing plant: Fast growing annual Milkweed… Temperature and watering before germination starts. Milkweed is very easy to look after, pinch back the heads when about 12 cm high, this will tell auxin hormones to make more heads (instead of having a single flower). Caring for your milkweed In summer, Narrow-Leaf Milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis) grow fragrant white or lavender flowers that are a beautiful addition to any garden. A Milkweed family member, another common name is Balloon Plant. Fold it over or place another wet paper towel over top. In general, very little milkweed winter care is needed. Perhaps most famously, milkweed species serve as the host plant for the monarch butterfly. A spot thats protected from the wind will also help prevent the spread of seeds while providing a more hospitable environment for butterflies. If the plant's appearance is too weedy for your taste, grow Milkweeds in a hidden but sunny corner or at the back of a border. Milkweed plants are the main food source and habitat for monarch caterpillars, an important and threatened native pollinator – so the more we can spread it around, the better! By planting milkweed in your own garden, you can help reverse the fortune of these beautiful insects! When the eggs hatch, monarch caterpillars grow large eating milkweed foliage. If you transplant between June and September, the daily rains should take care of watering for you. Provide regular water for the milkweed plants to keep the soil evenly moist throughout the growing season. Growing milkweed supplies the larvae of the Monarch with food and shelter, providing caterpillar food and a resting place before they leave the caterpillar stage and become butterflies. How to Cut Back Butterfly Milkweed. Hairy Balls in full glory. Alternatively, you could direct sow in the fall, or winter sow the seeds. If you are beginner gardener, then it is a wise idea to talk to the county extension representative in your area to find out ... Sowing the seeds. When plants have two sets of leaves, transplant the seedlings to their permanent, sunny location outside. Milkweed is the host plant for the monarch butterfly. Check the milkweed pods to see if they are ready to harvest. Soak the asclepias tuberosa seeds in tap water overnight and then after the seeds have soaked, put them in a sealed plastic bag. However, when you are deadheading or pruning milkweed, always keep a careful eye out for caterpillars, which munch on the plants throughout the summer. Others are taller and make a statement among other plants. Subscribe now and be up to date with our latest news and updates. Milkweed Plant grows from a long taproot and does not like to be moved after planting outdoors. Milkweed seeds do need a period of cold-treatment in order to germinate well, so if you live in a warm climate, cold-treat your seeds inside. Growing Calotropis gigantea in The Villages, FL (zone 9A). One reason some people do not choose this method is that the seedlings grow alongside other weeds in the springtime, making it more difficult to determine which plants need to weeded and which should be kept. Prepare a planting hole that's twice as deep and twize as wide as the root ball of your milkweed plant. This is a special decorative culture, the best choice for true connoisseurs and lovers of extravagant forms. Given time and reasonable respite from caterpillars, pink swamp milkweed can reach 2-3 feet tall. Milkweed Diseases Milk Euphorbia is difficult to find on the shelves. W… Prune back the milkweed plants by half when they are approximately 6 inches tall to encourage full … Some Milkweed species are short and will work best at the front of the border. Mix the fertilizer with water according to package recommendations for the size of your planting area. Germinating and growing. In addition to the visual element, planting milkweed provides food for monarch caterpillars and nectar for a … Milkweed plants benefit from vernalization, a process of cold treatment, before sprouting. A single milkweed plant will produce hundreds of seeds and it is the best way to ensure you have seeds for the following year! Asclepias line the migration path for these butterflies as they travel back and […] To grow Swamp Milkweed from seed, cold stratify in a moist paper towel in the refrigerator for 2 months, stored in a zip lock bag. Winter care of milkweed depends on your zone and which milkweed you have. Harvest pods with brown seeds by clipping the pods from the plants. The Butterfly Milkweed plant, or Asclepias tuberosa, is one of the best attractors for the iconic Monarch Butterfly that migrates every year between Mexico and the United States. Prune back the milkweed plants by half when they are approximately 6 inches tall to encourage full and bushy growth. In summer, spent milkweed flowers can be deadheaded to prolong the blooming period. 1. As a host plant, it provides the monarch larvae and adult butterflies with a food source. Preparing the seedbed. Because they self-seed readily, locate your plants in a part of the garden where you can better control their rampant spread, such as at the back of the border or in a corner. Grow Milkweeds in mixed borders, meadows, and natural areas. How to Take Care of Milkweed Plants A Self-Sufficient Plant. Place seeds into a container of moist soil, cover with a plastic bag, and refrigerate for at least three weeks. There you can start seeds of Milkweed inside so they will be ready to plant when the soil has warmed. Asclepias incarnata, commonly known as Swamp milkweed, rose or pink milkweed, Swamp silkweed or Rose milkflower, is an herbaceous perennial and part of the Apocynaceae family (Dogbanes).