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Superstar Host Plant - Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed)

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

Family: Asclepiadaceae

Name: Asclepias syriaca - Common Milkweed

Bloom Time: June-August

Soil Condition: Dry to Moist - Well Drained

Light: Full Sun

Height: 3-5' but sometimes to 8'

Native Range: Eastern North America

Asclepias syriaca is one of the most important native plants we have and is a must have for the pollinator garden but be warned, it needs a lot of space. Milkweed plants (including Asclepias tuberosa and Asclepias incarnata) are the sole source of food for the Monarch larvae. It's the easiest to grow and will self sow readily in the garden and spreads rapidly by rhizomes. Seeds can be sewn, no more than 1/4" deep, in fall, spring and early summer. Common milkweed is also great in a planter if you want to control its spread.

Maintenance: To control the height, you may want to cut back by 1/2 when it reaches 12" just make sure you do this before the Monarch Butterfly begins to lay her eggs. This will cause more branching leading to more flowers and more leaves for caterpillars to eat. Remove the seed heads to control spread.

Benefits: Host plant for Danaus plexippus (Monarch Butterfly) larvae and nectar for many butterflies and native bees, especially bumble bees.

Uses: Native Americans used this Milkweed as a source of fibers. During the WWII, children in the northern states collected the seed pods that were processed for the coma, or floss, which was used for flotation in life vests. Today the coma is harvested for use in pillows and comforters. Seed pods are also valued in dried flower arrangements.

Companion Plants: Schizachyrium scoparium, Andropogon gerardii, Andropogon virginicus - Common Milkweed will most likely overtake anything planted with it.