Information About Milkweed


How To Grow Balloon Plants: Care Of Balloon Plants In The Garden

By Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

Like all members of the milkweed family, balloon plant is one of the best plants for attracting monarch butterflies. Learn more about adding the balloon plant milkweed species to your garden in this article. Click here for additional information.

Milkweed Pruning Guide: Do I Deadhead Milkweed Plants

By Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Growing the plants will attract and feed these beautiful butterflies. But you may be asking, “should I prune milkweed.” Milkweed pruning isn’t really necessary, but deadheading milkweed can enhance appearance and encourage further flowering. Click here for more info.

No Flowers On Milkweed – Reasons For Milkweed Not Blooming

By Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer

The sweet nectar of milkweed blooms attracts a wide variety of butterflies, bees, moths and hummingbirds. However, your dream of a garden filled with beautiful winged creatures can quickly become crushed if your milkweed won’t flower. Learn why this happens here.

Planting Potted Milkweeds: How To Grow Milkweed In Containers

By Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden

Milkweed is among the primary plants to draw the Monarch butterfly to our yards. Since milkweed is sometimes considered an unwanted specimen in the landscape, and can be invasive, we might consider growing milkweed in a pot. Find suitable milkweed plants for this here.

Swamp Milkweed Info – Tips For Growing Swamp Milkweed Plants

By Liz Baessler

A cousin of the better-known common milkweed, swamp milkweed is an attractive flowering perennial that is native to the swamps and other wet areas of North America. Click this article for tips on growing swamp milkweed in your landscape.

Milkweed Plant Varieties – Growing Different Milkweed Plants

By Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer

Because of agricultural herbicides and other human interference with nature, milkweed plants are not as widely available for monarchs these days. Click here to learn more about different types of milkweed you can grow to help future generations of these butterflies.

Winterizing Milkweed: Caring For Milkweed Plants In Winter

By Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer

Many wild milkweed plants, often considered weeds, will grow happily wherever they sprout without any "help" from gardeners. Though many milkweed plants need only the help of Mother Nature, this article will cover winter care of milkweed and if it's necessary.

Growing Butterfly Weed Plants: Tips On Butterfly Weed Care

By Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

Butterfly weed is appropriately named, as the nectar- and pollen-rich flowers attract hummingbirds and hordes of butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects throughout the blooming season. Want to know more? Click here.

What Are Milkweed Bugs: Is Milkweed Bug Control Necessary

By Kristi Waterworth

When bugs start to invade the garden, it can be hard to distinguish friend from foe. Luckily, most of the time the milkweed bug isn't anybody to worry about. Learn more about milkweed bugs in the garden in this article.

Growing Milkweed – Using The Milkweed Plant In The Garden

By Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden

The milkweed plant may be considered a weed and banished from the garden by those unaware of its special traits. However, planting milkweed in the garden is a good thing. Learn more in this article.


Getting Started: Understanding Milkweed Seed & Germination

Milkweed seeds require cold stratification.

What does that mean? In the wild, milkweed plants scatter their seeds quite late in the season, at a time when the coming cold would kill any seedlings that germinated right away. However, the seeds of milkweeds (and other late-season flower plants) are cleverly programmed to delay germination until after they've been exposed to winter’s cold, followed by gradually rising temperatures in springtime. This adaptation is known as stratification. Cold stratification helps to break the seeds' natural dormancy cycle. Exposure to winter temperatures help soften or crack the seeds' hard outer casings.

Without prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, your milkweed seed is unlikely to sprout.

In most areas, when you plant seeds outside in fall, seeds can go through the cold stratification process naturally. If you are planting seed outside, we suggest seeding in late fall so that Milkweed seeds can lay on the ground through winter. This will give your Milkweed seed a long winter of dormancy. Once the sun comes out and the ground is warm in the spring, the seeds will germinate on their own.

In warm zones without winter frost, or if you are starting your seeds in spring, you can cold-stratify seeds in your refridgerator!

At-Home Cold Straification Summary: Put your Milkweed seed in a damp paper towel or some damp sand inside a zipper bag, and place in your fridge for 3 – 6 weeks (30 days). Label your seeds, and be sure to choose a low-traffic place inside your fridge where they won’t get damaged.


Common Types of Milkweed

Butterfly weed | Asclepias tuberosa (zones 3-9)
Orange flowers. Some cultivars have yellow flowers.

Common milkweed | Asclepias syriaca (zones 3-9)
Pink or mauve flowers

Swamp milkweed | Asclepias incarnata(zones 3-6)
Pink flowers

Prairie or smooth milkweed | Asclepias sullivantii(zones 3-7)
Bright pink flowers

Showy milkweed | Asclepias sullivantii(zones 3-9)
Pink and purple flowers

Bloodflower or tropical milkweed| Asclepias syriaca(zones 9-11)
Red-orange with yellow flowers. Native to South America.

Wait! Before You Plant…

Be sure any plants you choose are:

  1. Recommended for your growing zone.
  2. Not invasive in your area.
  3. Suits your growing conditions including sun, soil, water, and wind.
  4. Contributes to biodiversity by providing food, nectar, or habitat.


References:

[1] – Fishbein, M. and Venable, D.L. (1996), Diversity and Temporal Change in the Effective Pollinators of Asclepias Tuberosa. Ecology, 77: 1061-1073. https://doi.org/10.2307/2265576

[2] – Rutgers University. Decline of bees, other pollinators threatens US crop yields. Phys.org – published 28JUL2020. https://phys.org/news/2020-07-decline-bees-pollinators-threatens-crop.html Retrieved 15JAN2021.

[3] – Haddad, N.M. and Tewksbury, J.J. (2005), LOW‐QUALITY HABITAT CORRIDORS AS MOVEMENT CONDUITS FOR TWO BUTTERFLY SPECIES. Ecological Applications, 15: 250-257. https://doi.org/10.1890/03-5327

[4] – Thogmartin Wayne E., Wiederholt Ruscena, Oberhauser Karen, Drum Ryan G., Diffendorfer Jay E., Altizer Sonia, Taylor Orley R., Pleasants John, Semmens Darius, Semmens Brice, Erickson Richard, Libby Kaitlin and Lopez-Hoffman Laura. 2017. Monarch butterfly population decline in North America: identifying the threatening processesR. Royal Society Open ScienceVolume 4, Issue 9. 2017. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.170760. Retrieved 15JAN2021.

[5] – Fishbein, M. and Venable, D.L. (1996), Diversity and Temporal Change in the Effective Pollinators of Asclepias Tuberosa. Ecology, 77: 1061-1073. https://doi.org/10.2307/2265576. Retrieved January 2021

[6] – Lemoine NP (2015) Climate Change May Alter Breeding Ground Distributions of Eastern Migratory Monarchs (Danaus plexippus) via Range Expansion of Asclepias Host Plants. PLoS ONE 10(2): e0118614. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0118614

[8] – Paola A. Barriga, Eleanore D. Sternberg, Thierry Lefèvre, Jacobus C. de Roode, Sonia Altizer, Occurrence and host specificity of a neogregarine protozoan in four milkweed butterfly hosts (Danaus spp.),Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, Volume 140, 2016,Pages 75-82, ISSN 0022-2011, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jip.2016.09.003.

[9] – Heather J. McAuslane, University of Florida. Photographs: J. Castner, L. Buss and H. J. McAuslane, University of Florida. Publication Number: EENY-247. Publication Date: November 2001. Reviewed: April 2014. Latest revision: May 2017. Retrieved 15JAN2021. http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/orn/shrubs/oleander_aphid.htm

[10] – root rot Wilt and Root Diseases of Asclepias tuberosa L. Tsror (Lahkim), M. Hazanovski, O. Erlich, and N. Dagityar. Plant Disease 1997 81:10, 1203-1205 https://apsjournals.apsnet.org/doi/abs/10.1094/PDIS.1997.81.10.1203

[11] – Mikkelsen LH, Hamoudi H, Gül CA, Heegaard S. Corneal Toxicity Following Exposure to Asclepias Tuberosa. Open Ophthalmol J. 201711:1-4. Published 2017 Jan 31. doi:10.2174/1874364101711010001. Retrieved 15JAN2021.


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