Butterfly Milkweed - Asclepias tuberosa
One of the most striking of native plants, that lights up gardens, meadows and prairies with its glowing aura of brilliant orange flowers. Native to the northeastern and southern United States, this herbaceous perennial is a host plant for the Monarch Butterfly. Milkweed is the sole plant for monarchs to lay their eggs and provide food for their larvae.
Slow and hard to grow, this drought tolerant native may take up to 2 -3 years to flower. Once established requires minimal maintenance and will bring years of joy and wonder to your garden!
We recommend planting only milkweed plant that is native to your area. Each region is going to have milkweed specific to its area - except the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.
Reasons why planting non-native milkweed is detrimental to the Monarchs:
- In warmer regions, where milkweed does not die back in the winter, a build-up of a debilitating protozoan parasite (Ophryocystis elektroscirrha or OE) that infects monarchs can occur.
- Non-native milkweed presence in the fall could cause migrating monarchs to break diapause (a temporary non-reproductive state) and lay eggs instead of completing their migration to Mexico.
- Reseeding (and invasion) of non-native milkweed species
Blooms late spring throughout the summer. Flowers provide nectar for many butterflies, bees and beneficial insects. Known as pleurisy root, referencing a prior medicinal use of the roots to treat lung inflammations.
Long bloom period from late spring throughout the summer. Flowers are a nectar source for many butterflies and leaves are a food source for monarch butterfly larvae (caterpillars). Also commonly called pleurisy root in reference to a prior medicinal use of the plant roots to treat lung inflammations.
Genus, Asklepios, honors the Greek god of medicine.
Monarchs will lay their eggs on the milkweed and caterpillars will emerge around September, while the plant is creating its seed pods. During this time, the caterpillar will devour the all the leafy matter of the plant and leave the seed pod alone. It is imperative to allow the caterpillar to attain the nourishment it needs, while in the larvae stage. In 2–3 weeks, it grows to about 2,700 times its birth weight.
It is very important to plant locally native milkweed species. Please learn which milkweeds are native to your region and consult this milkweed range maps from the Biota of North America Program’s (BONAP) North American Plant Atlas.
Support the Monarch population by planting your local and native Milkweed seeds today!
- Sun: Full
- Plant Size: 12" - 36" tall
- Indoors: For spring planting - seeds must be stratified, see instructions below.
- Direct - Fall time planting highly recommended
- Seeds Count : 50
- Self seeds
- Attracts Pollinators : Monarchs, bees, butterflies, hummingbirds
- Deer Resistant
- Drought Tolerant
- Open Pollinated
Milkweed seeds must be stratified, if they are planted in the spring, for proper germination.
Instructions on how to cold stratify the seeds for spring time planting.
Milkweed roots are very sensitive. When transplanting, the milkweed plant may go though shock and could lose all its leaves. Not to worry if this occurs. Your plants are establishing their roots and will eventually grow leaves again. Taproot can grow up to 16".
Grows well in most soil types - preferring well draining, sandy or loamy.
Propagates by seed.
More info on how to create a monarch habitat.
Consider including your garden to the Monarch Joint Venture for their monarch conservation initiatives!
Monarch conservation information – Xerces Society
Report any sightings of Monarchs here.