Showy Milkweed

Showy Milkweed

SKU: FL3852
Native to western and central North America (including BC's Okanagan region), Showy Milkweed is the plant at the center of Monarch butterfly conservation efforts. This is the particular species of milkweed that the Monarch caterpillars feed on after hatching, so it is highly prized by egg-laying adults. Read More

Exposure Full-sun

Shipping & Returns

West Coast Seeds ships anywhere in North America. However, we are not able to ship garlic, potatoes, asparagus crowns, bulbs, onion sets, Mason bee cocoons, or nematodes outside of Canada. We regret, we cannot accept returns or damages for orders outside of Canada. The minimum shipping charge to the US is $6.99.

More details about Showy Milkweed

Asclepias speciosa. Native to western and central North America (including BC's Okanagan region), Showy Milkweed is the plant at the center of Monarch butterfly conservation efforts. This is the particular species of milkweed that the Monarch caterpillars feed on after hatching, so it is highly prized by egg-laying adults. The flowers are notoriously generous with nectar, so they attract a host of other butterfly species, as well as bees, hummingbirds, and many other pollinators. The plants grow to around 90cm (36") tall, with greyish green foliage topped by spherical clusters of pink flowers. Once the seed pods form, they can be cut and dried to good effect. Plant Showy Milkweed seeds anywhere to help with pollinator conservation.

Note: This species spreads by self-seeding as well as spreading its rhizomatous roots. In favorable settings, it can spread aggressively. For this reason, we recommend it for larger containers or for areas where it can be controlled through regular pruning. To avoid self-sowing, simply cut the seed pods off before they mature.

Showy Milkweed also happens to be pretty much deer-proof.

Perennial.

Quick Facts:

    • Food source for Monarch butterflies
    • Attracts pollinators of all kinds
    • Perennial
    • Deer-proof
    • Great for containers

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Showy Milkweed

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All About Showy Milkweed

Latin

Latin
Ascelpias sp.
Family: Apocynaceae

Difficulty

Difficulty
Easy

Season & Zone

Season & Zone
Exposure: Full sun
Zone: Hardy to Zone 3

Timing

Timing
Sow indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date and transplant or direct sow towards late spring. Optimal soil temperature for germination: 10-25°C (50-75°F). Seeds should sprout in 7-35 days. Asclepias may benefit from stratification: Seeded trays are wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for two to three weeks before being placed over bottom heat. This may result in more even and speedier germination.

We have had success direct sowing A. tuberosa in March, with blooms the first year. In our experience, A. speciosa returns with vigour in the second year and begins blooming by June here on the west coast.

Starting

Starting
Barely cover the small seeds using sterilized seed starting mix. Space transplants 30-60cm (12-24″) apart.

Growing

Growing
For many years several Asclepias species were listed as invasive weeds because of their sometimes aggressive spreading by underground rhizomes and their giant, dandelion-like seeds. The seeds emerge from very conspicuous pods which are easily removed before they dry and crack. As the population of wild Asclepias diminished, so did the populations of many butterflies that depend on them as food and nursery plants (including the endangered Monarch). Now that they have been de-listed, we encourage home gardeners to grow them with the advance knowledge that they can spread. Try growing them in a large container like a half barrel, and be conscious of the seed pods as they develop. In short, please be responsible with Asclepias species.

Note: All parts of the plant are harmful if eaten. Flowers are not edible.

Download our Asclepias tuberosa Factsheet.

How to Grow Asclepias

Step 1: Timing

Sow indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date and transplant or direct sow towards late spring. Optimal soil temperature for germination: 10-25°C (50-75°F). Seeds should sprout in 7-35 days. Asclepias may benefit from stratification: Seeded trays are wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for two to three weeks before being placed over bottom heat. This may result in more even and speedier germination.

Tip: We have had success direct sowing A. tuberosa in March, with blooms the first year. In our experience, A. speciosa returns with vigour in the second year and begins blooming by June here on the west coast.

Step 2: Starting

Barely cover the small seeds using sterilized seed starting mix. Space transplants 30-60cm (12-24″) apart.

Step 3: Growing

For many years several Asclepias species were listed as invasive weeds because of their sometimes aggressive spreading by underground rhizomes and their giant, dandelion-like seeds. The seeds emerge from very conspicuous pods which are easily removed before they dry and crack. As the population of wild Asclepias diminished, so did the populations of many butterflies that depend on them as food and nursery plants (including the endangered Monarch). Now that they have been de-listed, we encourage home gardeners to grow them with the advance knowledge that they can spread. Try growing them in a large container like a half barrel, and be conscious of the seed pods as they develop. In short, please be responsible with Asclepias species.

Note: All parts of the plant are harmful if eaten. Flowers are not edible.

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