Georgia Gardener Newsletter Cool Plant: May 31, 2007

Orange Milkweed, Butterfly Milkweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Species Native Range: Eastern half of the U.S.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 3-9
Mature Size: 2 feet tall and wide
Exposure: Full sun only
Soil: Dry, well-drained
Ease of Culture: Easy

I always get a warm and fuzzy feeling when my orange milkweed begins to bloom. It's one of the brightest flowering plants in my garden. Often seen growing wild on roadsides, this plant is attractive to bees and butterflies. It's also one of the host plants for Monarch Butterflies. All milkweeds (plants in the Genus Asclepias) are Monarch host plants and as such these plants are required for the survival of this butterfly. Monarch females will only lay their eggs on and the caterpillars will only eat milkweed plants.

If we have no milkweeds, Monarch butterflies will become extinct.

Orange milkweek blooms from mid to late spring until summer. Plants can be deadheaded to cause reblooming. In the late summer, upright candle-shaped seed pods will develop and crack open to reveal a series of seeds each of which is attached to a plume of feathery fuzz that helps it "fly" to a new location. Plants grow easily from seed.

Grow orange milkweed in full sun in soil that is well-drained. Too much water or poorly draining soil may lead to root rot. Watch for the presence of Monarch caterpillars on the plants.

Mix orange milkweed with other sun-loving, butterfly-attracting flowers such as Stokes Aster (pictured above) Phlox, Purple Coneflower, Black-eyed Susan, etc.


Although I have seen this plant in the nursery or catalog listed below, I cannot guarantee that it will be available at the time this newsletter is published.

Pike Family Nurseries: mutliple locations
Randy's Perennials: Lawrenceville

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