Superstar Host Plant - Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed)

Updated: Jan 20

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. Milkweed plants (including Asclepias tuberosa and Asclepias incarnata) are the sole source of food for the Monarch larvae. It does need some room but even a small patch of Common Milkweed will benefit the Monarch Butterly population. 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.


Maintenance: To control the height, you may want to cut back by 1/2 when it reaches 12". 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.


Available in a 4" pot @ $10.00 each.



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References:

  1. https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=ASSY

  2. https://monarchwatch.org/bring-back-the-monarchs/milkweed/milkweed-profiles/asclepias-syriaca/

  3. https://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/weedguide/single_weed.php?id=70