Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed) is a very familiar plant to many eastern gardeners. This perennial is perfect as a filler between your taller perennials and adds a nice touch of fragrance mid-late summer. The foliage is thick and glossy so it adds texture to help your garden look lush even in the peak of the summer! Native to the US from Canada to Georgia, and west to Texas. Reseeds in fall but is very easy to harvest. Clip off the seed pods before they open to help control growth but be sure to leave the foliage!
Common Milkweed is vital for the survival of the Monarch Butterfly which their population has been in a slow decline over the years. The large leaves are an essential food plant for Monarch caterpillars. Watch as the eggs hatch and larvae grow into the signature yellow striped caterpillars. Planting this perennial is a wonderful way to bring more excitement to your garden while also helping our native pollinators to thrive! ("Butterfly Weed" is a close relative, with bright orange flowers.) The plants spread vigorously by underground roots and should be planted inside areas of your landscape where it can be allowed to spread without overrunning other ornamental perennials. Ditches, fence lines and other areas with average to damp soils are ideal. 36-48" tall x 24-30" wide.
Asclepias syriaca Native Range: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , OR , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV.
|Common Name||Common Milkweed|
|Botanical Name||Asclepias syriaca|
|Zones||3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9|
|Light Requirements||Full Sun|
|Mature Height||3-4' tall|
|Mature Spread||24-30" wide|
|Bloom Time||Mid to late summer|
|Ships As||Potted Plant|
|Planting Time||Spring / Summer, Fall|
|Soil Type||Clay Soil, Sandy Soil, Average Soil|
|Soil Moisture||Average, Moist/Wet|
|Amount of Rain||10 to 20", 20 to 30", 30 to 40"|
|Advantages||Deer Resistant, Attract Butterflies, Bee Friendly, Rabbit Resistant, Fragrant Flower / Foliage, Good for Cut Flowers, Native, Low Maintenance, Multiplies / Naturalizes|
|Ideal Region||Anywhere In The US, Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, West, Pacific Northwest|
|Neonicotinoid-Free||Yes - Learn More|
|Ships to Hawaii, Alaska & Canada||No|
Asclepias (Milkweed) are sun loving plants that are essential perennials for monarch butterflies providing food for caterpillars and nectar for adult butterflies. They bloom from mid-summer into early fall and, with their milky sap, are resistant to rabbits and deer.
Asclepias can be divided into two groups for plant care; Asclepias tuberosa with orange (sometimes yellow) flowers and all the other species with pink (sometimes white) flowers.
- Asclepias tuberosa (Orange Butterfly Weed) - this perennial stays dormant until later in the spring than many other plants, especially when grown in pots. It's fine to plant dormant plants; don't up-pot them for planting later in the growing season.
Preferred growing conditions:
- Need sandy or gravelly soils (except the Clay form which does well in heavier soils including dry clay.)
- Does best with gravel mulches.
- After their second growing season, only requires deep but infrequent watering. Plant in full hot sun.
- Just a few handfuls of compost and Yum Yum Mix added to the planting hole is enough. Don't plant into a rich, highly-amended soil.
- When planting dormant plants, water thoroughly after planting and wait to water again until the plant comes into active growth, at which time a deep watering every week or so is adequate. Take care not to overwater young transplants.
- Asclepias has a long, carrot-like tap root that should remain undisturbed after planting and should NOT ever be divided.
Preferred growing conditions:
- These species grow in a wide range of soil types, including clay.
- They don't need mulching (except in very hot climates).
- These are moisture-loving perennials and do well in wet to moderately moist soil conditions.
- Plant in full to part sun areas.
- They like compost enriched soils at planting time.
- Asclepias syriaca and A. speciosa will spread to make big patches of plants and are best planted in parts of the landscape where they won't crowd out less vigorous plants. Not recommended for the prime spots in your perennial beds.
- Asclepias incarnata (Swamp Milkweed) is a more refined grower and is fine to include in perennial beds.
Oftentimes, Milkweeds won't grow much their first season in the ground, so be patient. They are establishing their root system and crown. By the second growing season, the plants will begin to get bigger and look more robust. Asclepias species are an odd bunch and don't behave like many other more familiar perennials. So be patient and accept their quirky nature.
- Fertilize Asclepias just once in fall with Yum Yum Mix and Planters II. - Naturalized plantings don't need additional fertilization.
- To encourage re-seeding and provide winter interest with their ornamental seed pods, leave the stems intact over the winter. In mid-spring, remove old stems just above ground level.
- All species of Asclepias are late to emerge in the spring, so don't be concerned if other perennials come up first and they remain dormant.
View more Planting Guides, or download our complete Planting Guide for tips on caring for your plants when you receive your order, as well as planting instructions for Perennials, Spring-Planted Bulbs, Fall-Planted Bulbs, Cacti & Succulents, Xeric Plants and more.
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USDA Hardiness Planting Zones
To determine if a plant is sufficiently cold hardy, the USDA created numbered zones indicating winter low temperatures; the lower the zone number the colder the winter.
- If the coldest winter temperature expected in your area is -15°F (zone 5) then any plants rated zones 3-5 will survive the winter temperatures in your area.
- If you live in very warm winter areas (zones 9-11) plants with zones 3-4 ratings are not recommended. The lack of freezing winter temperatures do not provide a time for winter dormancy (rest).
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