Native Milkweed List, 2019 | Enchanted Gardens

Why is milkweed so important?

Milkweed plants (family Asclepiadaceae) are the only food source for monarch butterfly caterpillars. However, milkweed has severely declined in North America due to drastic changes in land use or management, like agriculture and housing developments. Milkweed losses and other stressors are associated with declines in migratory monarch butterflies over the past 20 years. To compensate for the loss of milkweed, gardeners across North America are helping monarchs by planting milkweeds, and by keeping milkweeds safe from pesticides.

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Why plant native milkweed species?

Native milkweed species are in tune with monarchs’ annual migration cycle. Each spring, native milkweeds emerge from dormancy as the monarchs leave their overwintering sites (either in Mexico, for monarchs in eastern North America, or in California, for monarchs in western North America). Monarchs migrate to breeding grounds across the U.S. and into southern Canada, where females lay eggs on milkweed throughout the spring and summer. In late summer, shorter days and cooler nights signal to developing monarchs that they should delay reproduction and prepare for migration to their overwintering grounds. These same environmental cues cause native milkweeds to turn yellow and die back for the year, encouraging the monarchs to migrate.

feeding our favorite caterpillars!

They say if a butterfly flaps its wings in New Mexico, it could cause a hurricane in China. On top of being a delightful spectacle of nature, Monarch butterflies help keep world ecosystems in balance. As Texas is a main rest stop during their migration from Mexico, the Monarch butterflies depend on local gardeners to provide milkweed host plants for their young caterpillars.

Enchanted Gardens expanded its varieties in Spring of 2019 to include twelve new native milkweeds that boast beautiful flowers of many colors.


#milkweedmovement

We have an exciting announcement! With the busy spring season and migrating monarch butterflies arriving, Joey has devised a plan to promote habitat restoration through the planting of milkweed, while helping three local nonprofits. He has pledged to give all proceeds from the sale of milkweed plants to Hope for Three, The Monarch School, and Mustard Seed Farm and Market.

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Showy Milkweed

Sun Exposure: Full

Soil Moisture: Medium to Dry

Height: 4 feet

Showy Milkweed | Asclepias speciosa

The longer, fancy petals on this milkweed’s flowers are where it gets its name. This variety is more upright and a little more slender than others and would be a good fit for tighter spaces or tucked into an already established butterfly garden.

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Butterfly Milkweed

Sun Exposure: Full, Partial

Soil Moisture: Medium to Dry

Height: 2 feet

Bloom Time/Color: Orange

Butterfly Milkweed | Asclepias tuberosa

Voted the perennial plant of the year in 2017! These plants are great for dry and sunny areas. Since they don’t have the typical messy milky sap that milkweeds are known for, they are a great choice for borders and the front of landscape beds. Once they’re established they will make lots of pretty blooming stems off each plant.

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Spider Milkweed

Sun Exposure: Full, Partial

Soil Moisture: Medium-dry, Dry

Height: 12 inches

Bloom Time/Color: Early Summer/Green

Spider Milkweed | Asclepias viridis

Also known as Green Antelopehorn. This milkweed spreads easily once established in the garden and is tolerant of dry conditions.

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Whorled Milkweed

Sun Exposure: Full, Partial

Soil Moisture: Medium to Dry

Height: 2 feet

Bloom Time/Color: Early Fall/White

Whorled Milkweed | Asclepias verticillata

This variety establishes easily and spreads well. Large clusters of flowers top each stem when it blooms later in the year than most other kinds. Deer and rabbits will avoid it in the landscape, so it makes a great option as a perimeter plant to protect the plants within a bed.

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Common Milkweed

Sun Exposure: Full, Partial

Soil Moisture: Any

Height: 3 feet

Bloom Time/Color: Summer/Pink

Common Milkweed | Asclepias syriaca

This is one of the easiest milkweeds to grow and is a great option for first-time gardeners. It establishes and spreads easily and will return year after year. Lightly scented, it attracts a variety of pollinators and has a longer blooming period.

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Western Sand Milkweed

Sun Exposure: Full

Soil Moisture: Dry

Height: 18 inches

Bloom Time/Color: Summer/Green

Western Sand Milkweed | Asclepias arenaria

Plant this milkweed in a sandy, well-drained location. Once established, it will require very little care. Great for small spaces or containers. Leaves and stems turn slightly pink as fall approaches.

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Oval-leaf Milkweed

Sun Exposure: Full

Soil Moisture: Dry

Height: 2 feet

Bloom Time/Color: Summer/Green

Oval-leaf Milkweed | Asclepias ovalifolia

This dwarf milkweed has beautiful reddish stems and petite yellowish-white flowers. Large oval leaves make it a pretty filler for a pot or mixed into combination landscape plantings. This is one of the harder-to-find, rare varieties and is not likely to re-seed.

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Rose milkweed

Sun Exposure: Full, Partial

Soil Moisture: Wet

Height: 4 feet

Bloom Time/Color: Late summer/Pink

Rose Milkweed | Asclepias incarnata

Also called Swamp Milkweed, this variety smells like vanilla. It will grow best in consistently moist to wet soil. The flowers are larger and more showy than some other species, and this milkweed has one of the widest distributions throughout the US.

We are currently growing more of …

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narrow-leaf milkweed

Sun Exposure: Full

Soil Moisture: Medium

Height: 4 feet

Bloom Time/Color: Summer through Fall/Pink & White

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Narrowleaf Milkweed | Asclepias fascicularis

This variety is native to the west coast and is very common in California. Plan to grow this one in a deep, well-drained pot that can be moved into a shadier spot during the hottest days of our summer. A great option for a patio butterfly garden.

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Purple Milkweed

Sun Exposure: Full, Partial

Soil Moisture: Medium/ Well-drained

Height: 3 feet

Bloom Time/Color: Summer/Purple

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Purple Milkweed | Asclepias purpurascens

We are so excited to be able to offer this beautiful, relatively rare milkweed. Large and bright purple bloom clusters teeter atop upright stems. The plant looks very similar to Common Milkweed. Once it starts blooming they will last for about a month. This variety is not likely to re-seed.

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Short green milkweed

Sun Exposure: Full, Partial

Soil Moisture: Dry

Height: 12 inches

Bloom Time/Color: Summer/Green

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Short Green Milkweed | Asclepias viridiflora

These low-growing plants develop a strong taproot that ensures once established, they will return year after year. Bees also love the flowers of this particular species. They thrive in dry, sunny spots.

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Prairie milkweed

Sun Exposure: Full

Soil Moisture: Medium-wet, Wet

Height: 3 feet

Bloom Time/Color: Late summer/Pink

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Prairie Milkweed | Asclepias sullivantii

Easily grown and a great option for beds that are irrigated with sprinkler systems. This variety is one of the most fragrant and is also loved by hummingbirds. It will develop a deep taproot that ensures its return every year.


Non-native varieties

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Tropical Milkweed

Sun Exposure: Full, will tolerate light shade

Soil Moisture: Medium, deer tolerant

Height: 2–3 feet

Bloom Time/Color: June–October/Red-orange with yellow hood

Tropical Milkweed | Asclepias curassavica

Native to the tropics of Mexico and South America, this milkweed will give you red and yellow blooms in the warm months and die back in freezing temperatures. For the health of the milkweed and the monarchs, cut back this variety in early Fall (September/October). This helps sustain monarch populations by encouraging the butterflies to move on through their migration Northward. Think of it this way, why would you go to Mexico when you have Margaritas in Texas? Disposing of the pruned branches also eradicates harmful parasites that naturally collect on milkweed. It comes back easily, so cutting it back will not endanger the survival of the plant. True to its name, it also self-seeds somewhat profusely here in the south. If consumed by livestock in large quantities, this species can be poisonous.

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Giant Milkweed

Sun Exposure: Full

Soil Moisture: Medium, drought tolerant

Height: 8–15 feet

Bloom Time/Color: Primarily Summer, but throughout the year/White

Giant Milkweed | Calotropis Gigantea

Calotropis gigantea, commonly called crown flower or giant milkweed, is a large shrub or small tree that is native to India, southern China, Malaysia and Indonesia, but has been extensively cultivated in tropical areas around the world. This milkweed family is noted for its upright growth, milky sap, pale purple or white crown-like flowers, and white woolly shoots and leaves which mature to be slightly hairy. Flowers appear in clusters throughout the year, but primarily in summer. Flowers are commonly used in Hawaii for leis. Elliptic to oblong leaves (to 4–8" long) have cordate bases. Where winter hardy, grow as a hedge or train as a small tree. Not freeze hardy, must be taken indoors.