Asclepias curassavica (tropical milkweed) is a favorite milkweed plant of both monarchs and butterflies. Here's what you should know for growing annually… Mexican Butterfly Weed is also called Blood Flower, and it’s a tender perennial that can be grown from Asclepias seeds. This tropical milkweed wildflower seed germinates better after a cold treatment. Tropical Milkweed,Bloodflower or Mexican Butterfly Weed (Asclepias Curassavica) showy plants have blooms in the colors or red, orange and yellow! It’s not only a host plant for monarchs, but is also an attractive nectar plants for the fall migrating monarch butterflies. GerminationOutside in th…
Tropical Milkweed for Monarch Caterpillars…
Asclepias curassavica common names: Tropical milkweed, Mexican butterfly weed, Mexican milkweed, Scarlet milkweed, Bloodflower, Swallow-wort, Silkweed
Asclepias Curassavica Plant Specs
- Perennial: USDA hardiness zones 8a-11 (lows -12.2 °C or 10 °F)
- Annual for zones below 8a
- Full sun to part shade
- Height: 2 to 3 feet
- Spacing: 1 to 2 ft
- Flowers: red-orange and yellow, ‘silky gold’, ‘silky red’
Asclepias Curassavica Pros
- Top plant for monarch egg laying
- Monarch butterflies and others use as a nectar source
- A favorite source of nectar fuel for the monarch migration
- Showy red and yellow blossoms all summer
- Seeding is not an issue in annual zones
- Easy to transplant
- Deer and rabbit resistant
- Can Still flower while it produces seed- Blooms all season
- In northern zones, must start seeds indoors to reach full maturity
- The flowers also attract wasps but they haven’t been aggressive can be bothersome
- Prone to leaf spot fungus, rusts, and other milkweed diseases
- Continuous growing regions: ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE parasite) and other pathogens can build up on reused plants and harm monarchs
2 months before final frost
- Sow seeds directly after last frost (not recommended below zone USDA zone 8)
- Soak seeds in warm water 24 hours before planting – easily root in water
Tropical Milkweed Growing Tips
- Start cuttings or buy plants for full season bloom period
- Lusher leaves in partial shade.
- Plant more native milkweeds and supplement supply with tropical varieties
- Taking cuttings at season’s end to place in water overwinter
- Collect seed pods as they start to crack open
- Plants can be overwintered indoors
- Southern California, Florida and Texas gardeners should consider cutting back tropical plants to the ground in fall to cut down the spread of OE and to encourage the monarchs to finish their fall migration.
- Try staggering your cuttings (cut back half now, the other half a few weeks later). This way, there’ll always be some milkweed available for unexpected monarch visitors.
This milkweed also attracts eastern tiger swallowtails, giant swallowtails, hummingbirds, painted ladies, pipevine swallowtails, queens, wasps, and more…(If you know other pollinators tropical milkweed attracts, please comment below.)
Buy Tropical Milkweed Plants and Seeds
Always purchase seeds and plants by botanical (scientific) name. Asclepias curassavica’s common name, tropical milkweed, is sometimes used to describe other warm weather species:
Please post below if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for growing Asclepias curassavica in your garden:
My tropical milkweed plant leaves have been totaly consumed by the caterpillars ? all that remains is a barren stalk. Will this milkweed die or can I cut the stalk back to a few inches for new growth?
Hi Debbie, I would cut it back. It should start putting our new growth. Enjoy your break!
I have several tropical milkweed plants in my front flower bed that have always bloomed profusely. This year the plants are tall and look healthy, but they are not blooming at all. I gave some to a relative who planted them and they are doing great…blooming as usual. I am in Houston, Texas. Any suggestions?
Hi Rick, I’m not familiar with the continuous growth cycle in Houston. You could try a phosphorous-rich fertilizer that encourages flowering, but I would also network with other gardeners in your region to see what’s working for them: Butterfly Garden Group
Actually, Asclepias tuberosa is the best and primary food source of monarch butterflies. Problem with A. carassavica is that it’s blooming period especially in southern US is too long, and keeps the monarchs here when they should be migrating south to Mexico. Please plant only the native to America species of butterfly weed.
Hi Irma, Asclepias Tuberosa is NOT the best and primary food source of the monarchs. We get far more activity on other natives including common, purple, and swamp. There is no credible data to back up the claims that monarchs aren’t migrating to Mexico. Yes, tropical milkweed has problems in continuous growing regions because of pathogen build-up on plants. In those regions, cut back your plants at least once a season, or find native species to grow.
Hi Tony, Thank you for your incredible website
and info. I live in NE FL and would like to plant
asclepias tuberosa in addition to some more
tropical milkweed. I read the leaves of asclepias
tuberosa are too tough for the caterpillars.
Is this true? Unfortunately we have only three
varieties of native milkweed and they are
not garden friendly except tuberosa. Also, in NE FL which fall month
is best to cut back the tropical variety. I started seeing Monarch
butterflies about two weeks ago. (i.e. early May). And, there are
eggs on one of my tropical milkweed. I understand
we have non-migrating monarchs as well. It’s rather confusing.
How to determine which butterflies are residents and
which are migrating? Any info will be much appreciated!
Hi Allison, A. tuberosa is fine for caterpillars, but not often a preferred host plant for egg laying because of its rough, sapless leaves. As for who’s from Florida and who’s migrating through….only the monarchs know for sure!
I am in zone 6 and it is the end of May 2018. My tropical milkweed has not started regrowth yet. Is it still too early for it to start growing? Can you tell I’m impatient for it to start growing? LOL.
Luckily I have two plants that I rooted over the winter from cuttings which was very easy to do.
Last year I raised and released 135 Monarch with a 100% success rate. That’s because I brought the eggs in. If left outside the predators always get to the eggs or cats.
Hi Colette, tropical milkweed is not a perennial in zone 6 but you should have some reseeding…we always get a few in zone 5. congrats on a very successful last year and I hope it continues this season…
I am curious about the Silky Gold Milkweed. Is it considered a cultivar of the Tropical milkweed. Due to all the negative posts I have read about Tropical MW, I am relegating it to the far side of the garden. < on the other side of the air conditioner>. But I am unsure where to plant my Silky Gold. I have several other Varieties I am growing. A. Incarnata, Balloon Plant MW, a. Viridiflora, A. . Hirtella They are just seedlings, but I am hoping they will fill in quickly here in zone 9b. I am puzzled about the Silky Gold. Should I plant near the Tropical? Stupid question.
Hi Marcy, any milkweed (native or tropical) can harbor OE spores…pathogens are more likely to be found on continuous growing milkweed species that don’t die back. You can cut back these plants periodically or opt for all native. here’s more info:
I’m in Southern California, and I have literally fallen in love with my milkweed plants (tropical tiger and silky gold). Unsure at first, I was disappointed when they didn’t grow much the first year; this second year they’ve gone nuts! Little bees and this year’s Monarch butterflies love them the most (the bees are adorable and completely non-aggressive), and I’ve found them to be VERY low-maintenance. For me, they’ve flowered all year long. The ONLY bugs I don’t like that are visiting me this year for the first time have been one or two wasps and that stupid black and red-striped beetle… I don’t care if they’re harmless; I’ve always hated beetles! No spiders at all, which would have been a deal-killer for me. I use a very generic flowering plant food, apply sparingly, and water a couple of times a week now that the temp is getting warmer. (DON’T over-water.) Aerate well. Mine have done way better in near full sun. Along with my plumeria trees and hibiscus plants, they make up my awesome backyard garden. Love them!
I had A.Incarnata and A. Tuberosa last year, both had flowered and had a quite lot of caterpillars on them. I even saw a few Monarch butterfly flying out of a chrysalis that was located on my fence quite far away from the plants, and I was super thrilled. I did not see any seed formation though, as there were a whole lot of aphids around the flowers all the time. This year I was expecting the plants to return, but it is mid-spring here in NJ, and there is no sign of anything shooting up. Should I worry they will not return, since they didn’t seed at all?
Hi Laks, if you’ve had a cool spring, I wouldn’t worry yet. Hopefully, by the first week of May, you’ll see something emerging from the soil.
Hi. I am new to the world of planting milkweed. This article was very helpful and informational. However, I am wondering what does it mean to collect cuttings? How do I do it?
Hi, in the following post I go over starting cuttings in water. However, you can also dip cuttings in rooting hormone powder and plant them in soil:
I love this site Tony! It’s my number one source for anything Monarch or Milkweed related. This was my first season raising Monarchs in N.E. TN. I had a very successful first year and hope to have a very successful 2018. I have 4 different milkweed species in my Waystation which are tuberosa, curassavica, syriaca and I currently have 3 varieties of incarnata (ice ballot, Cinderella, and soulmate). I currently have 8 of the tropical milkweeds in the ground. They are very big and still blooming and producing seeds. I know that they are a tender perennial in my area (zone 7a) and I was wanting to know at what temperatures does the cold start to kill them? We’ve had a few nights in the upper 20s and they are still doing just fine. I’ve read reports online of people not too far from me also in zone 7a that say their tropical milkweed comes back every year. I have used microclimates in my landscape successfully in the past to grow plants rated for warmer zones and am hoping that my Tropical that I planted in these microclimates will regrow next spring. I have 14 back up cuttings in the garage that have already rooted and are in pots just in case they don’t. I was just curious at what temperature the cold kills off the above ground growth. If my Tropical milkweed does come back in my zone I’ll send you another comment with all my findings in case you want to use it in the plant profile. Thanks again and keep up the good work!
Hi David, around mid-upper twenties and they should die back. You can always leaf mulch the soil to increase their chances of returning next spring…yes, it’s amazing how the tropical species survive freezing temps.
I’m new to this plant but have just loved it since planted in Sept. of this year. We are 30 miles north of Tucson, Az. and had a drop in temp one night to 28 and we had a strong wind which could have been a factor also. I was so sad to see all of my Blood Flowers hit by the frost and now they dead. ? All info I have shows they are hardy to 10…will they come back or should I just cut them all down and replace them? I have loved these plants and how they blow in the wind and of course, seeing the monarchs and humming birds.
Hi Linda, they probably just died back to the ground and new growth should start to emerge when it gets a little warmer.
I bought this plant at Amazon and when it came it looks healthy. I transplanted it into a 5″ planter and I notice that there are small shoots growing. Although I do not notice if it has grown. I live in an apartment and it is in the full sun on my balcony. I do not see any aphids at all. I live in San Jose, CA and found out that this is zone 9b. During the winter we have rainfall that sometimes get heavy and freeze warning as well. Do you think I need to put it inside when the weather changes?
Hi Lilia, it’s cold hardy to zone 8 so even if it dies back, it should grow back.
Can I use pine needles as mulch for tropical milkweed?
Hi Vicki, milkweed seems to thrive in more acidic soil so pine needles should be fine for tropical milkweed, but you might want to mulch one or two first and see how they respond.
Hi I live in zone 9 Louisiana. It’s still plenty warm sometimes up till October. I have successfully raised many monarchs & see more eggs & caterpillars devouring the milkweed plants. It’s late August with 90 degree days. upon reading the effects on migration I am concerned I am doing a disservice to monarch species. Is there any pointers on when I should cut back their food source so that I don’t end up negatively impacting monarch migration? All the info talks about the north or Texas with Louisiana agriculture info is extremely lacking. Please help with this dilemma
Hi Lauren, there is no conclusive research to suggest the majority of monarchs aren’t finishing their migration, even with the presence of tropical milkweed in warm regions…the numbers in Mexico have been very encouraging the past two seasons (last year was down, but a surprising recovery was made after the devastating 2016 March snowstorm in their overwintering grounds). Cutting back milkweed can have a positive effect on monarch healthy by reducing OE spores and other pathogens. I’m sure cutting back sometime in October would be good, but make sure you keep an extra stash or cover some plants if you are still raising…
I’m in Houston, Texas. My mom and I both got a milkweed plant to grow in a container. Soon after transplanting, we both saw aphid armies all over the plants. We sprayed with neem oil and our plants started doing better. Within no time, I noticed webs covering the leaves (spider mites). I spayed again and it seemed to do ok. Now, I’ve seen a monarch everyday laying eggs on it. And now the webs are back and it looks horrible. I have it quarantined from my other plants but don’t want to spray it and kill my butterfly eggs. It has some new growth but looks awful. I’ve tried spraying it with water, to no avail. Will the butterfly larvae still eat it even if it’s infested? Should I just get rid of it? Sigh.
Hi Amanda, neem oil is an insect growth regulator and can kill caterpillars (keeps them from forming a chrysalis) My advice would be to start growing more milkweed so you’re not dependent on one plant. That will help you raising future butterflies…good luck!
Aphids do not deter monarch caterpillars. Do not spray any chemicals to kill them. I would not spray neem oil either on these plants. You can spray the aphids off with water or gently squeeze them on the plant to kill them. Just make sure there are no caterpillars in the new growth before you do so.
Tropical milkweed is very harmful. Not only does it encourage monarchs to stay in the southern US instead of migrating, but it hosts a protozoan parasite called Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE). As caterpillars, monarchs ingest the parasite along with their normal milkweed meals, and when they hatch from their chrysalises they are covered in spores. “It’s a debilitating parasite,” Satterfield says. Infected monarchs are much weaker than their healthy counterparts and don’t live nearly as long. In fact, if an OE-infected monarch tries to migrate, it will probably die long before it arrives in central Mexico, Satterfield says. Please see the article at http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/01/plan-save-monarch-butterflies-backfires.
Hi Sharon, please read this post for more info:
the milkweed plants in my garden do not have any leaves or tiny leaves. They are not being eaten. Just not growing on live stems. Is there something missing in my sandy Florida soil?
Hi Ann, this happens a lot in Florida. I think it has to do with the excess humidity in the summer months but it typically gets better after the rainy season. I would try to contact a local source that has first hand experience growing in your area. they might have some ideas for you…
I unsuccessfully started growing Tropical milkweed seed this year with three attempts and the third one finally succeeding. It’s now the middle of July and my plants are only about 6-8 in. tall. Clearly they will not be matured by the end of the growing season. Can I leave them where they are and they will return, or should I bring some inside?
Hi Becky, it’s cold hardy down to USDA hardiness zone 8, so if you’re zone 8 or above, you can leave outside. If you’re slightly colder, adding some leaf mulch before winter might help it survive. Otherwise, you can bring in a couple plants and take cuttings to increase your supply:
I planted a Tropical Milkweed in full sun (zone 7b, North Georgia). It is doing great, but I am not seeing any activity with it being used as a host plant. Do I need to plant more than one plant in various areas of my yard? I’m wondering how a Monarch may locate just the one plant, if we are lucky enough to have any pass through our area. Thank you.
Hi Pam, you will definitely want more than one milkweed plant if you are going to host monarchs. It only takes 2 caterpillars to devour an entire plant in their 2 week life span. I would suggest 4-6 plants minimum…good luck!
I have a Silky Gold Butterfly flower. It has lost most of its leaves and has tiny gold bugs all over the flower pods. What are those?
Hi Karen, this sounds like oleander aphids:
I planted tropical milkweed and it’s doing wonderful. I’m in south Jersey in zone 7b. Will they come back next year or do I need cut them for next spring?? Also I planted asclepias tuberosa. Sane question for them. Thank you
Hi Helen, tropical milkweed is a tender perennial in your region, so you might want to leaf mulch in late fall to give the roots some extra protection. Asclepias tuberosa should be a reliable perennial for you…
Is tropical milkweed seed ready to germinate straight from the pod, or does it benefit from a resting period? I know it doesn’t need stratification.
I would just soak the seeds in water 24 hours before planting to soften the seed coat and speed up germination. Good luck!
Hi Tony, I’ve got tropical milkweed growing from cuttings last fall. I’m very excited. They’re growing strong and healthy. My question is should I pinch them back to encourage multiple stems of growth? I thought I read somewhere that’s a good thing to do. Please let me know. Thanks!
Hi Sue, you can pinch back the top leaves to encourage bushier growth, which should provide more leaves for your caterpillars over time.
I have some of this growing and basically every node has a new shoot coming off of it and I haven’t touched it. I don’t think you’ll have to do much maintenance to get it to bush out in my experience. Just give it some good fertilizer and full sun.
Bought two Milkweeds last summer and they have grown great in Brentwood CA (northern CA) and baby milkweeds are everywhere ..
I started seeds this spring, and overwintered a plant from last summer (I’m in zone 5). Just wondering how many months from germination to bloom. Will the seedlings (5-6 inches tall now) bloom this year, or will they just be host plants for caterpillars among my native milkweeds?
Hi Emily, I’m in zone 5 too. We rely on plants/cuttings for this species. Our plants are already blooming. Your plants will take off in the summer heat so you should still have blooms and even seeds at the end of the season. good luck!
Hi: I planted 2 tropical milkweeds 3 weeks ago (zone 9b/10a Florida west coast) and they are attracting monarchs (2 to be exact) but the leaves are turning yellow and all full of spots (on the lower 1/3 of the stems). Also, seed pods out the wazoo! Don’t want milkweed all over our property … what should I do.
They are planted in a large water trough with other blooming flowers which are drawing bees/wasps, etc. (as is the milkweed).
Thanks for your experience – I have never done this kind of planting before.
Hi Jan, check out this post:
If you don’t want seeds, just cut off the seed pods prematurely or you can tie organza bags around a few seed pods if you want to save a few seeds…good luck!
I’m so excited! Planted my milkweed plants two weeks ago and had my first Monarch today. Not sure if any eggs laid yet. I’m thinking about putting up a butterfly house but not sure if the butterflies actually use them. Can you comment on that? Thanks. I love all the helpful information on this site.
Hi Donna, butterfly houses are for decoration only, but other insects or wildlife might use them. Butterflies typically roost high up in trees.
I recently had about 30 caterpillars who were quickly running out of food. I stopped at the store and picked up a Red Silk Milkweed, which the nursery employee assured me my caterpillars could eat. As soon as I got home, I clipped off a few branches and put them inside my net. A couple hours later, every single caterpillar had died…
Do you know what could’ve happened? Can caterpillars eat two different types of Milkweed (my initial plant was a traditional yellow Milkweed), or should they only be fed the same type?
Thanks for your help!
Hi Brandi, there’s no problem with caterpillars switching between milkweed varieties. It sounds like your plants were treated with pesticides. If you aren’t able to find a local nursery that sells pesticide-free plants, check out our suggested stores that ship:
I’live in central Florida and just planted 10 Silky Deep Red Milkweed purchased from a big box store. They are wilting badly during the day but perk up in the later afternoon. Some of the leaves are yellow with little spots on them. They are in full sun most of the day. The soil is damp so I thing there is enough water. What could be the problem?
Hi Donna, it’s probably from the full sun…that’s a big adjustment. It’s a good idea to gradually introduce plants to full sun by keeping them in shadier parts of the yard first.
I love this plant especially the caterpillars. Since that’s there source of, food,what happens to the plant when they eat all of the leaves? I had to go yesterday and buy three more plant so they could have a source of food. I placed the original plant ( now bare) in the sun, hoping it starts to blossom again. Please help I love it but can’t afford to keep on going to buy more plants when leaves are eaten and gone? Please help and advice..
Hi James, congrats on all your monarch activity. Yes, they eat a lot! You can start new tropical milkweed plants by taking stem cuttings, which will multiply your plants and save you some $$$
I Find Planting In Pots And In Garden Helps. The Tropical Milkweed seems to [email protected] times that way. I also find Mexican Torch Sunflowers attract Monarchs, Swallowtails and last til frost for late commers. Zinnias as Well. Turned 20×20 plot into Butterfly Haven & was RICHLY REWARDED. Full Tx Sun.
I plan on growing tropical milkweed from seed this spring in St. Louis and have a few questions. To your knowledge, will it come back on its own? Also how long does it take to grow, flower, and produce seeds if i grow from seed in the spring rather than starting seeds indoors? Thank you.
Hi Robert, it’s not a sure thing as a perennial in your region, but leaf mulching in fall should help some survive. If you want to start early in spring for a longer flowering/seeding period, try spring sowing around the beginning of March:
Live in Dallas. I Cover My Tropical Mikweed( I Have Both Kinds) so I can get early start. Last years raised two Monarchs On Golden Tropical Milkweed in pot, that I brought into living room once they’d gone into chrysalis stage. Released onto my Mexican Torch Sunflower after hatching. So beautiful. They both took off after wings hardened.
Are they fragrant ?? This is the first year growing it for me ,, they are just three inch seedlings under lights so far .. .. Do they get as much activity on the flowers as the incarnata ?? If so I wont be putting any containers on the front porch :p … The incarnata has a really nice fragrance .. ..
unfortunately no fragrance, but tropical milkweed is a popular host and nectar flower. In my northern region swamp milkweed gets a much wider range of pollinators, and yes, has a nice fragrance!
here in Northern CA, winter shade condition (no direct sun light), looks like my milkweeds are doing good it gets around 90’s-100 during summer with tons of sun direct light
The seeds germinate very easily so just save some seeds or spread some around and there should always be new plants … I put some seeds in wet paper towels a couple of weeks ago and now have lots of seedlings .. They grow much like the tuberosa as far as flowering and producing pods all season … But seems they are much more attractive to the monarchs and other insects ,, more like how the incarnata is … (this is all only from what I have been told and read about it . ) .. I hope it grows well as an annual .. I think I have a pretty good head start on things ,, my seedlings are almost two inches on their third set of leafs ,, time to transplant … good luck !
I took a few cuttings from my tropicals this fall and brought them inside for overwintering, my question is how to get rid of the aphids? I have tried spraying with liquid Seven, and one of the Bayer systemics, but both killed the cuttings as well as the aphids. I have been trying to rinse the aphids off under the faucet, wondered if there is a better option.
Hi Arthur, if you take cuttings, remove most of the leaves and rinse them w/ water when you bring them in. If you start seeing aphids spot treat them with isopropyl alcohol…either spray them or use a cotton swab:
I spray mine with a spray bottle of water and a few drops of Dawn dish soap. It gets rid of the aphids and doesn’t hurt the plant.
Hi Tony! I appreciate your knowledge and passion for the Monarch and friendly host plants! I was just given a Asclepius Curassavica Silky Gold Milkweed (I live in Phoenix, Arizona) and as I was preparing my planting area (in the ground) to place it in to, I discovered grub worms (Grrrr!). I was wondering if I could plant the Silky Gold in a container (terra cotta) and if so, how large do you recommend? I can’t seem to find much information on planting the Silky Gold in containers and I hope you have some experience/answers for me. Thanks in advance!
Hi Lori, we grow some tropical milkweed in containers annually and we use 10″ or 12″ containers. Here’s more info you should find helpful:
Thank you so VERY much Tony!! I’ll read the article asap and see if we can make it work for our gorgeous milkweed.
Thank you for all of the informative posts. I bought a Asciepias curassavica on a whim from Green Acres Nursery in Folsom, CA this summer. The sign on the plant rack stated “tolerates radiant heat” and I thought it would look nice to help hide the AC unit on the hottest, west side of our brown house. It does not like to be over-watered. Lower leaves turn yellow and fall off. When the temps spiked to 104+ for several days, it would wilt in the afternoon, but perk back up after sundown. Other than orange oleander aphid attacks, it’s been doing well and I’ve been playing with rooting cuttings in water and seed germination. Seeds have over 90% germination rate when kept around 75 degrees. I like using a wet paper towel in a zip loc, so I can place germinated seeds in trays. All cuttings (10 so far) have rooted in water when placed in a windowsill. When the stalks get too tall, I cut them back to 12″, and make 3 cuttings from one stalk. The October rain we had made it lean over into the walkway when it was heavy with water. It will be interesting to see how the plant does over winter here in Sacramento, CA. I want to add more patches of it in the spring. It compiments the White Oleander and purple Mexican Petunias in my shrub beds so well. So far, it does great indoors with 5000-6500K CFL lights. I should have plenty of plants by March.
Thank you so much for ur comment. U inadvertently answered two questions I had about germination and growing from cuttings. Other milkweed species need cold treatment and based on ur comment and others tropical milkweed does not
I have the Asclepias curassavica and Asclepias curassavica
‘Silky Gold’, orange aphids loves them but is it me or caterpillars eat thems too?
Hi John, monarch caterpillars love munching on tropical milkweed. it’s a popular nectar source for butterflies too.
Hi! In case it’s helpful, I want to let you know that my milkweed was overrun by aphids despite our best efforts to safely remove them (i.e. nothing that would hurt the butterflies) until we put a couple marigolds nearby. I was amazed at how quickly the aphids disappeared. Now I have happy plants and fat cats. If you haven’t already tried a marigold nearby, I recommend it wholeheartedly! I wish I’d done it sooner.
Hi…how does the asclepias reproduce?
Hi Renee, tropical milkweed seeds and it can also be started with stem cuttings:
Anyone grow tithonia diversifolia i have done other mexican sunflowers.
Just sounds fun gets real big im in minnesota and have lots of room im my butterfly garden.
Hi Robert, I tried growing some this season…I have two plants and one grew over 11 feet tall. They didn’t flower (started from cuttings in June) though. I cut one back and potted it and will see if anything different happens in year 2. If you want a sure thing, I’d stick with tithonia rotundifolia…
I harvested some of my Tropical Milkweed seed pods too early (seeds are white). Is there a way to save them or are they all useless to plant for next year?
Hello, I don’t suggest harvesting seeds until you see the seam splitting open. Those white seeds will be useless. The good news is that tropical seeds a lot so hopefully you will have plenty more…
I have a variety of milkweed plants in my Southern California garden. Most of my plants are native but a couple of months ago I purchased two beautiful silky gold tropical milkweed plants from Home Depot to add to my collection. I had many butterflies lay eggs on these plants but have yet to have one caterpillar reach maturity. All of them have “committed suicide” as I call it; they leave the plant at some point and just don’t return. I’ve been planting milkweed for about three years now and have never had this happen to this extent before. I’m about to tear out these two large plants. Any suggestions?
Hi Anita, could they be crawling away to form a chrysalis? Most of the time, they don’t stay on the milkweed to do this…
Aloha Tony and Anita,
Here in Hawaii they grow year round. We cut them back to stubs 4″ above ground after the seeds have dried and blown away. Soon afterwards, new shoots emerge from the stubs.
I had the same thing happen to me when I bought my plants from Home Depot, except I watched some of my caterpillars die in front of me. I read that Home Depot sprays their plants with pesticides and the pesticide residue is toxic to the caterpillars. That’s the bad news, the good news is after a few weeks the residue is gone from the plants and when you get new caterpillars next season you should have…the caterpillars should have more luck making it to Chrysalis.
also, just as a heads up Home Depot mostly carries plants with nematicides which some say has adverse affects on some insects not just nemotodes
I have tons of monarch eggs on my Blood Flower Golden Silk. To ensure their safety from predators I would like to take some clippings from the garden for the caterpillars, so they can live inside, until adulthood. My problem is that the milkweed lasts maybe a couple of hours and then wilts I even tried rooting powder and stuck them in pots of wet soil… Again wilted ;-( What am I doing wrong.
Thanks so much for any help you can provide.
Hi Alex, check out this article for a couple ideas to help your cuttings stay fresh:
It’s September 10, and I just found a zip lock of asclepias curassavica seeds. “Packed for 2014” in a drawer.
Can I plant some now to any benefit? I live on the north shore of Lake Travis. Should I just put them in the fridge, plant them, or leave them at room temperature? Thanks!
Hi Ron, the seeds should still be viable. I would plant them a little later in the fall, maybe November. You could also try winter sowing them since your winter doesn’t get too cold. I ‘spring sowed’ ours in Minnesota and had a high germination rate:
I have approximately 30 milkweed plants in my garden in FL. They have dropped a lot of their leaves due to heavy rains (Hermeine). I have moved all the caterpillars I could find to an inside 2 net cages. I am cutting the plant canes with leaves and putting them in a covered vases to feed the caterpillars. I’m just wondering how far down I should cut the canes? And under the circumstances of lost leaves, a pretty good milkweed bug infestation, some aphids and the time of year, if I should just go ahead and cut them back to about 12″ off the ground? Will they come back out this winter in the Tampa Bay area? Or should I wait to cut them back later? We haven’t had a hard freeze in my area in 10 years.
Hi Anna, if you’re concerned about not having enough milkweed you can always stagger your cuttings half now/ half later or just keep a few plants for milkweed emergencies, or refrigerate/freeze leaves. You want to cut all plants back at some point to let fresh, OE-free foliage grow back…
I inherited 3 caterpillars – I call them small medium and large. For obvious stage reasons. I live in Orlando. Large is in his Chrysalis at the moment. Medium is missing in action and small has no “food” left thanks to medium and large. I’ve learned more about monarchs than one really needs to know. I read they eat squash. I have a bag of cubed butternut squash in freezer. Every day I microwave a cube for about 30-40 seconds. Run under water to cool. Lay on paper towel away from any ANT attacks and he eats it ALL day. Hopefully he goes into Chrysalis soon. I feel like I have 3 kids. Also – PLEASE cut back the tropical milkweed at the proper time in Florida and other warm states as it is having detrimental affects on the monarch from the parasite!
Study up on the proper milkweed plant for your state.
We have seed pods opening already on our tropical milkweed. How best to save the seed for planing next year? I do plan to take stem cuttings for overwintering, but I think it would be good to save some seeds for backup.
Hi Arthur, harvest them when they are cracked open, but before the fluff starts coming out, much easier to harvest then:
I have a milkweed plant. The information tag that came with it, lists it as Butterfly Weed. The genus name is Asclepias curassavica (color is Silky Scarlet). This tropical milkweed yes? I wish I could attach a picture as it looks like Tropical Milkweed as well, not Butterfly Weed asclepias tuberosa.
I am excited it is Tropical! after reading this article I was going to go out and purchase some for my garden. (USDA 7b) I started to think though, if retailers are mislabeling the product, those that do not like non-native plants, my have more of a problem than they might expect.
Hi Elizabeth, yes…that’s tropical milkweed. Always buy milkweed by the botanical name to avoid confusion with misuse of common names. good luck with your plant!
I started my garden last year…but monarchs are not touching my milkweed…instead the devour my stick vine…i live in East Central Florida…I tried the cage bought and the cats don’t stay on the plants…the are all over the net…is this OK?
Hi Susan, what’s the botanical name for ‘stick vine’?
The plant is called Dutchman’s pipe vine…and the cats wouldn’t touch the milkweed. Only the pipevine!! I even have passion flower and non lay on it either!!
The Dutchman pipeline is host plant to the polydamas swallowtail the passionvine hosts zebra longwings and Gulf Fritillaries to name a few. I’d take a few minutes to research the two to get more info. Those two plants DO NOT host the monarch. Hope this helps!! ?
I just read that tropical milkweed could be a detriment to Monarchs and that native milkweed is the best. Please refer to this article. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/01/plan-save-monarch-butterflies-backfires
Hi Donna, I’ve addressed this misleading article and others in a different post:
If I buy seeds now (July 2016) will they grow in the spring of 2017?
Hi Nancy, if you buy tropical milkweed seeds now and store them in a cupboard or drawer over the winter they should be fine for planting next spring. Otherwise, just buy some in late winter/early spring. Tropical milkweed seeds are never in short supply…
I ended up with several tropicals in 20″ pots, they are doing terrific! Nice and leafy with tons of blooms. I have seen a couple of black swallowtails on them, as well as miscellaneous small butterflies, but no Monarchs yet. (southern Illinois)
I bought an Aclepias Currassavica from a reputable nursery about 10 days ago. It seemed quite healthy, with many flowers. After about one week, the lower leaves began to yellow and fall off. I’ve sprayed with Neem oil extract to fight any insect or fungus attack, and it seems to have slowed the yellowing. What’s causing the problem?
Hi Skip, I’m not sure where you are located, but this is a common complaint I hear from Florida. It might be from too much moisture. From what I understand the plants recover and grow more foliage. If you are planting milkweed for monarchs, they will most likely bypass the plants if there is neem oil on the leaves…
I live in North Texas, 35 miles northeast of Dallas. We have had a very wet spring, so perhaps moisture caused the yellowing leaves. I tried to change the ph of the soil to more acidic also. The plant was still in the nursery pot (5 gals), so I repotted in a larger pot. Right now, there are some remaining flowers, but seed pods are beginning to open all over. I’ll not spray with neem anymore and hope the Monarchs will find my plant, which seems to be recovering now. Thanks for the info.
I was given a these: (pic link) https://goo.gl/photos/pPs4dEsakC42wySg8
Will they do well in Phoenix, Az? If so, what is the best way to care for them and the best place to plant them in the yard?
Hi Monica, tropical milkweed grows well for most regions. In your hot climate, it will probably grow better in partial shade (I would try afternoon shade). A. curassavica be grown in pots or planted directly. good luck!
I have researched this particular Species of Milkweed and if you wish to help Monarch butterfly populations thrive do not plant this particular milkweed. It is NON native milkweed to anywhere north of Mexico and has been shown to disrupt the Monarchs natural migration period because it has inflorescence year round, and has been proved to higher parasitism rates in monarchs resulting in their decline in survival. Please take caution in planting this particular species. There are many more species in the Apocynaceae family that encourage Monarch reproductive growth.
Hi Arianna, check out this post and the PDF link at the bottom of it too:
Tony, I have a Mexican Flame Vine growing in a 20″ pot, and though still young it is looking good. Could I plant 3 or 4 tropical milkweeds in this same pot, or would that be too crowded? 2 maybe? I have a few that still need homes.
Hi Arthur, if it’s a starter flame vine it may not flower its first season. That sounds a bit crowded to me, but it’s hard to say without knowing what the flame vine will do. Maybe try 2-3 curassavica plants in the container. Good luck and let us know how it works out for you…
I ordered the flame vine from a nursery, it had a couple of blooms on it when it arrived, though they fell off. I am hoping that it will flower again this season. I put 3 tropical milkweed seedlings in with it, will see what happens.
Hi Arthur, it’s a continuous blooming vine, so you should be in good shape…
I would like to grow Tropical Milkweed in the large pots I have on my patio, Do you think they will flourish in such an environment?
Hi Elly, tropical milkweed grows well in containers, and can be grown in full sun to partial shade:
Great, Thank you! I look forward to planting them this summer!
I live in zone 5a and have a Asclepias Curvassavica ‘Silky Gold’ that is a small shrub about 3′ x3′. A large part broke off in the middle of it. Is it possible to cut back this plant to rejuvenate it? At its base the branches are very thick, and yes I mean branches! I’ve had it for years and it’s done very well, even surviving a particularly harsh winter a couple of years ago that wiped out a lot of stuff here in Wisconsin.
Hi Vikki, I’m surprised it is growing perennially in your region. But even so, it should die back to the ground if it was outside over winter…
I read conflicting opinions on whether or not A. curassavica is likely to reseed and become an invasive in northern areas. We live in zone 6b, should we be concerned about it reseeding? I know it’s a simple matter to nip off the pods before they ripen, just wondering if it is really a concern in my area.
I have to say though that my seeds germinated in about a week in peat pellets with a plastic dome over them, I got about 99% germination too. So far the seedlings are going well under lights, they are just now putting on their first set of real leaves.
Hi Arthur, they can seed a lot. If the seeding gets to be too much, I would cut off at least some of the pods. I’m in zone 5a and it hasn’t been an issue. May be more of an issue for you in 6b. congrats on your new seedlings!
Thanks Tony! I now have almost 60 seedlings in various stages of growth. I really didn’t expect this good of a germination rate. I should have plenty of leaves and flowers this year.
Here in New Zealand we rely almost exclusively on Asclepias fruticosa. It’s the only form of milkweed commonly available. Asclepias curassavica is something I came across in an obscure seed catalogue. This article was useful in telling me what to expect from it and how to propagate it. The butterflies are native to NZ, they flew here from the Americas. They don’t migrate, or migrate only small distances here. The driving factor being temperature. Here they are an animal of the suburban garden and eat exotic plants, there are no native plants of significance.
Reading the comments above about the controversy over this plant… This appears to be something that has been exported from my country. I live in New Zealand. We have a relatively high number of native species that are endemic (found nowhere else) and it is practical to conserve them – on isolated islands. Some people here have become rabid about endemic species. If we talked about humans like we do plants then we’d use terms like ‘Genocide’ and ‘Aprtheid’, and ‘Rascism’. It makes much less sense to be precious about species moving around on a continent. Being a recently colonised place, NZ has reasonably good records made by early explorers. Therefore it is easy to distinguish between endemic and non. On a continent it is much harder. Plants move around, they die out, they come back, they die out again. Due to changes in climate from ice age to present day different regions host different plants and as the planet warms plants will move to suit the circumstances of the day. We can not, and should not, try to return to some arbitrary point in history because the world has moved on.
Monarchs have their own minds. They will migrate, or not, as it suits them. If they stay put it may be because the climate suits them, or maybe they are stupid. But we must not pass judgment on them either way. Monarchs do not need to migrate if it is warm enough for them all year round. Monarchs will fly away when they run out of food.
Have just caught up with your post made about a year ago, John! Interesting points you make… I’m working on the next issue of BUTTERFLIES and hope you won’t mind if I quote you.
You can see a copy of our magazine here:
I live in Orange county, Calif., and have a new container of the “Silky Gold.” Lots of aphids, other than using a small brush, any other methods I could use to ride them ?
Great site, lots of information!
Hi Leonard, one of the most asked questions on the site, so I compiled a list of ideas in this post. Hope this helps:
Hi Tony — Long story/explanation, please bear with me! I’ve been following your blog/site since early spring, but it wasn’t until late August that I discovered beautiful Monarch cats in my backyard. When 3 or 4 of them just suddenly disappeared at the 4th & 5th instar stage, I finally decided to bring in a dozen eggs/hatchlings in to raise, using a kritter keeper and mesh cage. As of Oct. 26, I’ve raised & released 18 gorgeous butterflies — I’m definitely hooked!
Because my native milkweed plants just didn’t thrive, I had to keep buying the tropical plants to feed my hungry babies (there are now 12-13 potted plants on my outdoor patio, 3 in the ground). Just when I thought (in late September) that I was about done for the season, a couple of mama Monarchs came in and laid more eggs — hence the 18 releases. And now I’ve got 4 more 1st & 2nd instars in the house, plus about a half-dozen itty-bitties on the plants outside, which are in varying stages of regrowth.
I’m in Ventura Co., CA, where it was in the upper 90s through most of September & October, so very summerlike. It’s cooled off a bit, but still in the 70s, and I see occasional butterflies still flitting about and plants are still sprouting new leaves. I know the Monarchs should be doing their migration/roosting thing now and I really need to cut back the MW, but I need it to feed my indoor & outdoor cats. So I’m in a real quandary. I don’t want to be increasing the possibility of OE infections — all but two of my cats earlier this season formed perfect chrysalises and appeared to be perfect butterflies — but I’m just not sure how to maintain a food supply without causing more egg-laying in my patio!?
I really would hate to destroy future Monarchs by taking the eggs, but if mamas keep laying them on the plants intended to feed the last 4 indoor babies, do I have a choice? I want to do what’s best for the survival of a healthy species. If you have any ideas, I’d welcome your suggestions. Thanks — and many thanks for all the information and education you provide here!
Hi Chris, congratulations of your “problem”! If you want the monarchs to stop laying eggs, you could pick individual leaves and place them in the refrigerator until you have to rinse them off and serve them. You could also take stem cuttings and place them in water…that keeps milkweed fresh for a much longer period and you will have an abundance to feed your indoor cats.
You can see cuttings photos on this page…you can also use large cuttings if you put them in a bigger container like a gatorade bottle:
Do tropical milkweed plants need to be located in close proximity? They come up from seed in different flower beds , plus pots on patio. Should old stems that have been cut down to 3″ be removed the next spring when new plants come up or are they connected? Should plants be fertilized during growing season? Will removing seed pods before the open have the same effect as dead-heading? Does soil in pots need to be changed, new soil?
I live in zone 8a and have more monarchs every year in Oct., though not as many as some who have posted. They just fly in and disappear after a few weeks. Sometimes it seems I have just 1 that is here all summer, is that possible? Actually I have noticed just one possibly two swallowtail all summer. Last years dozens of Gulf Flitterary, but not many this year–just enough to eat up all the Passion flower vines. The most visited nectar plant in my yard after the tropical milkweed is the Mexican flame vine, it is heavy with blooms on this last day of October. It freezes and I have to treat them as annuals, but they are worth it. I’m very new to this and I spend all my money on plants and paying a man to put them in the ground or in pots. Have to grow Mexican sunflower from seed, no one carries then yet. If this is too wordy, just answer questions and delete the rest.
it’s always a good idea to have at least 6 plants to a patch in case caterpillars finish off an entire plant. However, if you regularly monitor your garden, having single plants is fine. As a northern gardener, I repot all our plants in fall to overwinter. at that time I also cut down the root system if its getting to large for the container. If you don’t want tropical milkweed plants to seed, cutting off immature seed pods is a good idea.
If you add some leaf mulch to the plants before winter, most of them should return next spring since tropical milkweed is hardy to zone 8. Good luck!
We just planted a California Native garden in March with lots of milkweed. I believe we have Asclepias curassavica L.- based on the pictures. The plants have grown very large and we continue to have a fair amount of Monarchs. Should we trim back these plants and if so when? I am still fairly confused by the life cycle of the monarch. Also I am not quite sure what the unusually warm weather means for the plants and the monarchs.
Hi Nancy, cutting back around this time or during a slower part of the season is a good idea. You don’t have to cut down all your plants at once, and can stagger the cuttings so there’ll always be some in case of a milkweed emergency. Not sure what to tell you about the weather, but enjoy your extended season!
A friend told me that she had read that the tropical milkweed would keep the butterflies around for longer than they should stay. I thought that this cannot be true but wanted you to confirm or deny.
Hi Lynne, I’ve grown tropical milkweed for 7 years, and our migrators head south while there is plenty of viable tropical milkweed leaves/flowers.
It’s certainly possible it could entice some to stay later, but it seems they are taking other environmental cues to start their journey (i.e temps, shorter days).
Many of the issues that divide our community happen when theories are presented as facts. In my opinion, tropical milkweed has been an invaluable addition to our garden for supporting both caterpillar and butterfly. Here’s more info on the potential problems/solutions with tropical milkweed:
i checked all the tops of my mexican milkweed, Asclepia curassavica, and i can’t find any growing tips that aren’t producing flower buds. if i take cuttings, should i remove the buds and leave the surrounding tiniest leaves? here in new jersey it’s time to take cuttings and i don’t want to miss the opportunity. taking cuttings now means that they would stay indoors for at least seven months and probably flower before they could safely stay outdoors, but the monarchs really loved them this year so i want to try and grow a big patch this coming summer.
surprisingly, they laid their eggs on dill plants next to the milkweed and the cats were very large and healthy (and hungry).
any advice is much appreciated. thanks.
Hi Barbara, the caterpillars on your dill were probably eastern black swallowtails, which are often confused for monarchs.
Yes, you can take cuttings with buds and I would remove most of them. Here’s more info about the process:
You will need to actually plant them in soil after they root or they will rot.
Hello! I sowed a bunch of tropical milkweed seeds this spring and got 2 to reach maturity. Their buds just opened up a week or two ago, and I’ve spotted monarchs a couple of times! Do you think the plants will form seeds by the time I need to move them indoors? I’m in Zone 5.
Hi Jessica, if your plants are just flowering now, they won’t seed. Tropical grows fast when the temps are warm…growth will start slowing as the night time temps cool. You can dig up your plants before your first frost and overwinter them indoors. You can take cuttings in late winter and start with much bigger plants next season:
I am in Phoenix, AZ recently bought a scarlet milkweed from my local hardware store. I replanted into a clay pot and set it out in the sun. Now though leaves are rapidly falling off and I’m afraid it will soon be nothing but stem. Is something wrong with the plant? It’s watered daily with good drainage. The leaves are turning yellow too.
Hi Amanda, I suspect your problems are from overwatering. Don’t water until the soil starts to dry out…good luck!
I tried a tropical milkweed plant from seed (started indoors) in part sun a couple years ago. It grew, but did not bloom (I’m in Iowa). This year I tried again, this time four plants from seed in full sun. Unfortunately, again it did not bloom. It did not help that this time the plants were engulfed by yellow aphids. I don’t know if the aphids prevented blooming or if there is some other reason they won’t bloom. One positive… I’ve seen five monarch cats successfully mature and leave the milkweed late this summer. I would just like to see the darn things bloom at some point. Any idea why my plants won’t bloom (remember, the first time there were no aphids, but it still never did anything but put out green growth).
Hi Dan, in cold regions seeds should be started indoors at least a month before planting or the plants won’t have time to mature. You’ll have a huge head start if you take stem cuttings or buy plants. Here’s more info:
Well, today I figured out why I haven’t been able to get my tropical milkweed plants, grown from seed, to bloom. It appears I was mistakenly sent showy milkweed seeds. That explains why I had showy milkweed pop up in my garden a couple years ago in the area where I grew my original plant from seed the prior year. Last year I had to dig up the area to remove a bunch of runners. Today, several clumps of milkweed shot up out of the ground where I grew last year’s “tropical milkweed”, so it’s obviously not tropical milkweed(I live in zone 5). This evening I spent an hour trying to dig out all the new plants, including taproots that go to China and runners that had already spread 1-2 feet. I hope I got all of it so it doesn’t grow back. In the part of my garden where I first grew it it had already spread through some perennials, so I may not be able to fully get rid of it. I’ll pick up some genuine curassavica if a local garden center is selling it this year.
Hi Dan, sorry to hear you got the wrong seeds…this can typically be avoided by only buying milkweed by botanical name. We grow both showy and tropical. I like them both, but they have very different growth cycle and growing habits.
As for getting “real” curassavica, check out the milkweed stores section on my resources page. Under that section more plants/plugs are listed and you can always find tropical milkweed at a good price.
good luck with your garden, Tony
I got my seeds from a monarch-saving organization that was advertising free seeds. I had never grown any milkweed before, but figured I’d give it a try. I requested tropical milkweed/curassavica, and the info that came with the seeds said they were tropical, but obviously they weren’t.
I let one showy milkweed plant that popped up a couple years ago grow to maturity. It put out a couple nice blooms and the smell was intoxicating. However, once I realized that type of milkweed spreads via runners I dug it out asap. That kind of stuff can get out of hand in a hurry and I don’t want it in my garden. What I did, however, is take the showy milkweed I dug up and re-planted it by a nearby creek. I did the same with the plants I just dug up a few days ago. I also have a few new plants I started from seed that of course won’t be going into my garden, so I can plant those near the creek.
I live in Wisconsin and each spring I have milkweed in abundance coming up in my garden. I let the plants grow to maturity each year but don’t know just when to cut them down. They spread by underground crawling.
Hi Pearl, tropical milkweed doesn’t have underground rhizomes. It only spreads by seeding, and most of the seeds will die over winter in your region. I usually pull out tropical milkweed (in Minnesota) in October.
I live in Pennsylvania and received tropical milkweed seeds from a friend. How do I keep them over winter? Do they need cold stratifcation? If so how do I do that? Thanks
Hi Courtney, you can just keep them in a drawer or cupboard. Before planting, soak the seeds in warm water for 24 hours to increase germination rate and speed up germination. good luck!
This is a call for help to the master of monarch knowledge.
I am in the panhandle of Florida. My first large female arrived on Tuesday. I have 53 eggs.
We have had serious weather conditions all summer. Temps with heat index 112 and strong afternoon storms daily. The soil in my potted milkweed plant never have a chance to dry out. Even the leaves will show heat stress while the soil is still wet.
The spider mites are consuming the plants. I have lost 75 percent of the leaves!
Is there any way to control the mites so the eggs will survive?
Panic in Pensacola
Hi Jeannie, if the infestation is out of control you can use insecticidal soap, but it must be thoroughly rinsed off before it can be safely used by monarchs. Otherwise, the plants daily with water is supposed to help keep the numbers down. Good luck!
I have seeds from my Asclepias curassavica. I am in Oregon City Oregon. Can I start the seed next year and when should I do it. I want to start at least 20 plants. I have 2 acres to play with so welcome any other ideas.
Hi Bud, you can fall plant seeds around November (you don’t want them to germinate before winter). You could also try starting some indoors a couple months before your average final frost. You could even try putting out “winter sowing” containers in spring since the curassavica seeds don’t need cold moist stratification. The mini-greenhouses should make the seeds germinate faster…two-liter soda bottles make great containers:
I have a tropical milkweed and its doing great (I wanted to see how it would do in my garden first before planting more) But I realize that it had a whole bunch of the little yellow aphids I read how to get rid of them but I’m not sure if I have any Caterpillar eggs on my plant yet and I don’t want to destroy them how can I tell if it’s a caterpillar egg.
Hi Elizabeth, here are some photos of monarch eggs. They are laid singly and about the size of the head of a pin:
I was told that I can tell the difference of my orange milkweed (A. curassavica blood flower) from my yellow milkweed (A. curassavica silky gold) by the leaf structure. When I am examining them there doesn’t seem to be any difference. Am I missing something?
Hi Margaret, put this on the schedule to compare later in the season. The rabbits mowed down our regular tropical and waiting for it to grow back…never really compared the two varieties before.
Hi Tony with a Y,
You been mentioning a disease that tropicals and other milkweeds can get…what does it look like and how does it effect and does it effect the monarch in its transformation stages.
I ask this because ive had some monarchs cacoon go grey or go black and dry up however I’ve seen others do just fine and i live in Southern California. Look forward to you getting back with me on that…O…also I have heard that the tropical plant doesn’t protect the monarch because it’s not toxic where as the native are….is this true.
Hi Toni with an I,
there are more disease issues in Southern California because the continuous growing season means plants can collect spores and bacteria. Here are some common monarch health issues:
Tropical milkweed actually has higher cardenolide levels than native milkweed, so it helps to protect monarchs. Keep in mind, many predators have adapted to the poisonous chemicals in milkweed, so it doesn’t keep them as safe as many people think….this is all milkweed both native and non-native.
What do you mean by cutting? Cut off the flowers? How much should one cut. I have a beautiful tropical-milkweed plant purchased 6 months ago and live in So.Cal. Thank you,
Hi Claudia, you can take stem cuttings to propagate new plants. Check out the process here:
I purchased 3 curassavica. I live in michigan 5b. I was wondering about how to over winter them or can I sow seeds directly in spring. I haven’t planted them yet and was wondering what would be the best site would be? Thank you.
Hi Danica, once you have mature plants it’s much easier to overwinter and take cuttings to start new plants. They grow much faster than seeds. Here’s more info:
Grow Tropical Milkweed from Cuttings For your planting- Tropical milkweed can be planted in full to partial sun in well-drained soil. Add compost if needed to increase soil quality.
I just bought some starts of Asclepias Curassavica “Silky Deep Red”, and will be planting them in the coastal hills of Sonoma County, CA. I have big gopher and mole problems, and often have to plant in gopher baskets. Do gophers eat Blood Flower roots?
Hi Don, not that I’m aware of, but a few years ago I didn’t think deer ate milkweed…they most certainly do! I have never heard complaints of this, so I’m guessing it’s not a common issue. Sometimes, this depends on what other options you have to offer. We always make sure our bird feeders are full so the squirrels and chipmunks get their fill outside the garden. This has worked pretty well for us.
The deer sometimes eat milkweed here in southcentral Texas also. Mostly the top of the plant with flowers. They like Asclepias texana mostly. They don’t have access to the Tropical Milkweed inside my fenced yard, so I haven’t had any experience with them eating it.
Hi Linda, we don’t typically get deer in our garden but they have been more interested in swamp and purple milkweed in the past. Rabbits were munching ours down before we fenced it though…
Hello Tony. My Tropical Milkweed have been doing good until recently when I saw something weird on some of the plant leaves. I attach a link to a picture so you can see it. http://i60.tinypic.com/14l0wao.jpg Do you know what it is and how can I fight it?
Hi Jesi, I”m not sure where you’re located, but I’ve never seen this growing tropical milkweed up north. It looks like it could be some type of fungus? If I ever have foliage issues on milkweed (which is rare) I remove the affected leaves and make sure I’m not overwatering the plants. I suggest contacting a gardening expert in your region to see if they have come across this. Please keep us posted and let us know if your plants recover…good luck!
Tropical milkweed is fine in its own habitat. Resident monarchs and many other tropical species feed on them and whether they get OE or not they must have worked that out during the process of coevolution.
There is another issue we have to consider and this is what really matters. We need to save entire habitats, not just an individual species. Organizations engaged on conservation of monarch butterflies as well as conservation in general list only native milkweeds. It is important to use not just native milkweeds, but those native to your area. The following organizations provide lists of milkweeds and information on local suppliers and regional distribution of milkweed varieties. None of them mentions tropical milkweed for very good reasons. It doesn’t help preserve habitats where it is not native.
Xerces Society Milkweed Seed Finder (25 native species and list of regional suppliers),
Monarch Watch Milkweed Market (15 native species and regional maps),
Monarch Joint Venture (about 20 native species by region),
Beatriz, OE can be spread to monarchs through any variety of milkweed, both native/non-native. Yes, it’s more common on tropical milkweed in regions with a continuous growing season like southern California, south Florida, and South Texas but gardeners in most regions across the US don’t need to be concerned about this.
I have never used this website to promote planting tropical milkweed at the expense of native milkweed, but to use it in combination with natives to support more monarchs throughout the season, which it does. Tropical milkweed also supports other pollinators in the local ecosystems of all regions, as you would realize if you had first hand experience growing it.
The solution to supporting more monarchs and other pollinators will be found through the willingness to explore all potential opportunities, both old and new, to discover a better way to support pollinators in a modern world. Tony
Hi Kate, in my opinion, that article is part of the problem because it only tells half truths and fills the rest in baseless theories.
Many people are starting to believe that tropical milkweed is solely responsible for the spread of OE when the spores can be present on ANY milkweed variety, native or non-native.
While there are potential problems with OE in warm regions, there are also simple solutions gardeners can take if they choose to grow it. The people that refuse to discuss those solutions aren’t doing the public, or the monarchs any favors.
This is a link to an article that helped me understand the issue with year round growth of Tropical Milkweed in the warmer states where it does not die back. The important thing is helping the Monarchs survive this difficult time. Thanks
I just bought two plants at Home Depot a couple of weeks ago. One plant is just about to flower. Yesterday, I noticed the other one had a yellow, black and white striped caterpillars on it which I removed. Today I noticed several of theses caterpillars just eating away the leaves. Is there something I can do? Thank you
Those are Monarch Caterpillars Betty…they eat milkweed to transform into beautiful monarch butterflies!
Oops so sorry I didn’t see my first post when I scrolled down, thought it didn’t post the other day. I apologize for reposting. Thanks for the response.
My grandfather gave me some tropical milkweed seeds in a pot a few weeks ago, within a week they sprouted up, now 2 weeks later they are still only an inch tall and seem to stop growing. They are still green and no signs of distress. I have them on my porch where they get plenty of sun and I only water when potting soil is dry, why are they not getting any taller?
My grandfather collected seeds from his tropical milkweed and planted in a pot, a week after he gave it to me I see seedlings growing but today I noticed one seedlings first leaves are curling under, I live in Tampa bay area of Florida and wondering if there’s a problem with it. I have the pout outside on my porch where it gets plenty of sun and I only water when potting soil is dry, any suggestions?
Hi ReBecca, if your tropical is getting full sun consider moving to partial sun. Also, it sounds like you could be under-watering so give your seedlings a bit more to drink. If you are fertilizing, I suggest waiting until the seedlings are more established. Good luck!
I just planted the A. Tuberosa in a large container in my garden and now it looks a little sad. I’m confused as I thought this plant was hardy. I have one in the ground thats been cut back 3 times by the gardener in one year and keeps coming back. Why is the new plant not happy in it’s container? Could it be too hot? It is next to a wall in full sun most of the day. I want it to flourish. Thanks.
Hi KC….if you’re talking about tuberosa, that variety spreads through underground rhizomes and can be problematic in containers if there’s not enough space to accommodate the roots. Also, if you don’t get the entire root when transplanting tuberosa this can stress the plant. You might try cutting back some of foliage if it’s not improving. good luck!
If you’re talking about curassavica (tropical milkweed) try moving the container into partial shade.
Hi I was reading about tropical milkweed and was advised not to plant tropical milkweed because it does not die back in the winter (in the south) and it is increasing the infection rate of OE to the Monarchs? I’m in SoCal. What would you advise? http://news.sciencemag.org/biology/2015/01/plan-save-monarch-butterflies-backfires
Hi Ernest, you can avoid overuse of tropical milkweed plants by cutting back your plants a couple times a season and letting healthy new growth emerge. If you are willing/able to do that, tropical milkweed can be a beneficial plant in your region. I would also suggest trying some California natives along with tropical to see what grows best and what attracts the most monarchs. Hope this helps:
I really hate it when science comes out that counters mindsets and then we are all called “alarmists” for paying attention to it. Tony, I love your effort but I am really concerned that more native milkweeds are not being promoted here. Is this about our gardener preferences or about helping the species?
The main concern is that although monarchs may LOVE this type of milkweed, they haven’t adapted to it. Humans love sugar and processed food but it doesn’t mean that we should be eating it, much less making it this much of a supplement of our diet. Tropical Milkweed being so prevalent is the “fast foodification” of Monarchs. We should be pushing for native species for YOUR REGION for many reasons, especially if that is the traditional food of these butterflies.
If we have to fake the natural process and cut it back and fool the insects into moving on, that is making some big assumptions: 1) People are willing to do this type of maintenance and the appropriate timing 2) people will know they should be doing this (awareness) and 3) if the plant spreads to other areas, chances are they will not be cut back.
What happens over time we discover that these “alarmists” were correct? What kind of damage have we done then? So silly when the solution is easy–plant natives.
Amy, I couldn’t disagree more. First off, I’m not pushing tropical milkweed. My message is about attracting and supporting more monarch butterflies (and other pollinators) by diversifying your milkweed offerings….that includes both native and non-native varieties.
I also believe in discussing viable solutions instead of dwelling on worst-case scenarios based on unsubstantiated theory…which is what being an alarmist is all about. I choose to focus on supporting healthy monarch butterflies for both our and future generations.
If being an alarmist is actually paying attention to what nature is telling us, then I think it is better than ignoring the obvious signs. That is what we call the Precautionary Principle.
In short, the “precautionary principle” is a notion which supports taking protective action before there is complete scientific proof of a risk; that is, action should not be delayed simply because full scientific information is lacking. It shifts the burden of proof to the element, in this case the prolific planting of Tropical Milkweed, that IT is NOT harmful.
Tropical Milkweed is pretty much all garden centers offer, with little to no instructions that it needs to be cut back. Also, the more this plant spreads, the more prevalent it will be and it will not always be cut back. Hence, that is the key that you are indeed promoting but it is missing many variables. So you are operating under huge assumptions that are impossible to control.
I just wish you would discuss this issue as part of supporting healthy butterfly populations rather than writing it all off as “unsubstantiated”. That is very disingenuous.
I my personal experience Tropical (also known as Mexican) milkweed is not “fast food milkweed” (whatever that means), it is the first choice of the female Monarchs of all my milkweeds. It is fast growing and a live saver when one is raising Monarchs inside and you have a higher survival rate than in the wild and are confronted with many hungry mouths. I live in California, one mile from the Monarch sanctuary where they also grow Tropical milkweed alongside other natives such as Showy and Narrow Leaf. Here in Santa Cruz, Tropical milkweed is an annual, it dies back in the winter on its own. And it doesn’t usually come back until early April or later unless I have cuttings in the greenhouse.
This year my first eggs were found at the end of Feb. and thank goodness I had swamp milkweed (which isn’t a native either, but that is what I had) Many of my friends were bringing caterpillars over as their Tropical Milkweed hadn’t really started growing and they needed milkweed, so again they got Swamp. I just bought some Showy milkweed so now I have four varieties. The heart leaf milkweed I have that is supposed to be a native is struggling to grow no way is there enough (one small spindly plant) to support Monarchs, so that goes to show sometimes natives don’t work as it can also depend on the microclimate your garden may be in.
I have heard for last two or three years not to grow the Tropical Milkweed
here in North Florida because it deformed the butterflies and also because
it blooms so late they don’t do their natural migration. Now, after reading
so many reports today, I am really confused.
I cannot find any other milkweed locally that
is not the tropical variety. Is it because growers don’t know Monarch difficulties, or it is easiest to grow? Should they be cutdown in early fall?
Now I feel maybe I should return some beautiful plants I just bought at Lowes.
Hi Carolyn, tropical is easier to grow in Florida than other native varieties. Many gardeners also find it a more attractive option for their garden so that is driving demand. There are issues that need to be considered when growing it in your region. This article shares some precautions you can take to help avoid spreading monarch diseases.
As long as your plants were not treated with pesticides they should a fine addition for your butterfly garden, if you cut them back occasionally. Hope this helps!
I am just learning about tropical milkweed. I have always planted the local varieties, but after watching Jaap de Roode’s talk on TED Talks. I would like to plant tropical milkweed if you think that is a wise choice for zone 7B in Virginia. My concern is that I already have problems with aphids, I try and control them by wiping them off the plant, but they are still a problem and I am so fearful of wiping off Lady bug lions and Monarch and other butterfly eggs. Can you offer any suggestions on how to control the aphids? Or should I just leave them alone since they only seem to bother the Milkweed?
I also grow several varieties of Hyssop, Lantana, and Vitex–which I love because of all the different types of butterflies, moths, bees and wasps they attract–least I forget, the common housefly is a frequent visitor too. Thank you any information you can provide.
Hi Joy, tropical milkweed is a great annual choice for butterfly gardens. It’s a popular host plant and provides nectar for monarchs during the fall migration.
Check out my post on how to stop aphids from taking over you milkweed. The 3 best ways to stop them organically are milkweed diversification, having various patches around your yard/garden, and planting aphid repelling plants close to your milkweed. Here’s the full list:
We have 5 milkweed plants in containers. Over the past 2 weeks the caterpillars have eaten almost all of the leaves. We have seen several Monarchs landing on the few leaves this past week. The plants are about 1 year old. Should I cut then back or do nothing ? We are seeing several seed pods with some caterpillars eating them. Hope you can help!
Hi Bob, in continuous growing regions it’s good to cut back a couple times a year to avoid the build up of OE spores that can potentially harm monarchs. You could try rotating plants so there is always some available while you cut back the others. If you have room, you might also consider growing more milkweed. 5 plants is just a snack for a hungry batch of monarchs…good luck!
I just bought some Asclepias Milkweed off the discount rack, they have blooms but look skimpy on the stems though they are tall, not much foliage on them. I live in Central Florida and it is March 1st now. Can I cut them back to make them fuller by next month or two or is it too late to cut them back? Also if I can cut them back, how far down do I cut them since it’s almost spring now? Thank you so much for your help in advance.
yes Jeanine, I would cut them back. Tropical milkweed grows back fast. This will promote healthy new growth in a garden setting. good luck!
Thank you so much for the quick response.
I live in Southern California and I am in my third year with a monarch garden. They always leave in November, even though I do not have the native milkweed. My question is similar to the one above: is it too late on February 29th to cut them back? If not, how far down do I cut them and still give them some leaves. The Monarchs will be here any day. Could I just take off the flowers?
Hi Lolly, since there are monarchs in your region year round, I would cut back when there is a lull in activity. You can always stagger the cuttings so there is some milkweed in you garden in case of emergencies…good luck!
Thank you, Tony. The Monarchs do migrate here to Santa Barbara and Pacific Grove, mostly. We do not see one from November to March. So, I will cut them back when they leave in November. Your website is very valuable. Thank you!
I agree with Tony’s comments on the unfounded hype about the so-called non-native species doing harm. We raise monarchs in SW Florida and our monarchs love curassavica. What environmental alarmists and what Tony calls native “purists” never explain is what they mean by native. I understand that we have over 100 species of milkweed now. What makes a species “native’? Is 1492 and the great Columbian exchange the date? If so, how do we know how many species we had then? At what time do we have a definitive list and how do we know that many if not most on that list didn’t come from the south. The whole concept of “native” is flawed. Perhaps all milkweeds were originally tropical. (thanks Tony for a great service to all monarch hobbyists)
Hi Ron! Thanks for your comments. There are potential issues with growing tropical milkweed in regions where the plants don’t die back because of disease issues. However, instead of spreading hype and trying to alarm people, I wish more people would discuss viable solutions, because they exist!
As for your native comments, I agree 100%. Sometimes I’ll look at the native map for a particular plant and see a state where it’s not native, surrounded by states where it is. This defies all logic and common sense, yet some believe these guidelines should be followed with question.
I just bought these seeds and I’m planning on planting them in Puerto Rico. Should I follow the same instructions? Wet my seeds overnight and plant them in the morning? I also got Swamp Milkweeds and Butterfly Milkweeds but I doubt I could grow those here.
Hi Jesi, it never hurts to “try” as long as you are able to monitor the progress of your plants. Yes, no matter where you live i would suggest soaking the seeds first. It helps them to germinate faster. Please post back and let us know how your butterfly weed and swamp milkweed work out!
Hello Tony, thanks for your reply. My Currasavicas are growing, it took like 12 days for them to germinate. They look very healthy.
I was wondering if you by any chance have heard of the Carribean Milkweed (Asclepias nivea). According to this site http://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=ASNI3 they are native to Puerto Rico.
Jesi, I actually have not heard of this, but it appears to be a variation of curassavica from what I can gather. If you try growing it, please keep us posted…
I live in Houston and have been raising Monarchs for a couple of years now. This is the first time I have seen so many cats on my milkweed in December. Should I be cutting down the milkweed earlier? I just had17 butterflies I had to let go outside (not optimal weather).
Hi Ginny…typically the migration is over at the beginning of November, but things went a little late this season. I would suggest that would be a good time to cut back tropical milkweed plants. I try to release monarchs monarchs when it’s at least 60 and sunny to give them the best chance for survival. Here some info that might help for future monarchs:
I have a container garden on my garage roof in San Francisco, CA. I wanted to buy native milkweed to help the monarch butterflies, but was advised that CA native milkweeds would need very large containers because their roots need to go very deep. I can’t have really large containers on the roof because of their weight. But I was told that it didn’t matter, since monarch butterflies don’t breed in SF anyway. At another nursery, I was told that I should get some A. Currassavica because the butterflies at least are attracted to them for their nectar. Now I’m worried that I’m disrupting their migration. At what point should I bring the plants indoors? Is it already too late? The temperatures are still mild (low to mid-60s) and I still see a few monarchs.
Hi Deborah, it’s too late for monarch eggs this season. If you bought curassavica now would be a great time to cut it back. There is no conclusive evidence that tropical milkweed is disrupting the migration. Where it is most likely effecting monarchs is in warm weather regions where it grows all year and monarchs could overwinter. Monarchs do breed in SF…but not this time of the year.
Tropical and swamp milkweed both grow well in containers. If you’re looking for a California native, you might try tuberosa, but it’s not a preferred milkweed species for laying eggs. Here’s my milkweed resources page for more info:
Thank you! I’ll cut my plants back forthwith.
I’m surprised that you say A. Tuberosa is not a preferred milkweed for Monarchs. It’s the only species I can find at the nurseries here in Los Angeles, and when I planted 6 of them they were soon hosting dozens of caterpillars. The plants were quickly stripped of their leaves and the cats grew large. I didn’t see a single chrysalis on any plant, but I sighted several Monarchs flitting about. This year I bought a mesh cage and moved 5 cats inside, along with cuttings of A. Tuberosa in water, which I kept replenishing. Each of the 5 has become a chrysalis, so with luck I’ll have 5 Monarchs to release. At least for this area, A. Tuberosa seems to be preferred.
Hi Bill, it’s all about supply and demand. If they have other options available, tuberosa isn’t typically the plant they go for because of the coarse, sapless leaves.
Are you talking about tropical milkweed (A. curassavica) or butterfly weed (A. tuberosa)?
Chris, this article is based largely on speculation with little science to back it up. Too many people are focused on the potential negatives of tropical milkweed when there are simple solutions for dealing with some of these problems like cutting back milkweed (to avoid overuse) for those in warm weather regions. Also, we have viable tropical milkweed in our northern garden for weeks after the monarchs are gone. If the milkweed was their cue for leaving, they’d be leaving much later. Tropical milkweed grows quickly and is a favorite egg laying milkweed for monarch butterflies. It has even been shown to have medicinal qualities that help produce healthier monarch butterflies compared to native varieties of milkweed:
Before we start spreading speculation as truth, there needs to be more research. For now, tropical milkweed will remain one of many (both native and non-native) milkweed varieties we grow in our garden.
That’s a BAD idea. There are plenty of reliable sources saying that this species of Milkweed is bad for Monarchs. Your response should be to remove it and quit promoting the use of it unless it’s proven to not harm butterflies.
If you want to help Monarchs and other species, only plant Milkweed species native to your area!
Monarchs are a migratory species John. By adding a mix of both native and non-native milkweed to your garden, you can attract and support more monarchs. I know this from my own personal experience and from talking to many other gardeners across the country.
also, tropical milkweed is not harmful to butterflies. There are potential issues with it for people who grow it in regions where it grows continuously like South Florida, Texas, and Southern California:
I planted a lot of tropical milkweed in my garden in Naples last May. It is mid November and I still have quite a few monarchs visiting the top flowers and leaves. The rest of the three foot tall plants have been denuded of leaves. There are also healthy seedling plants growing beneath them. I have seen this phenomenon in nearby fields and road sides. Isn’t this a natural occurrence? Wouldn’t the butterfly’s die if they had to migrate north to freezing temperatures in search of food and new milkweed?
Hi Barbara, this seems to be a common issue in Florida, but I’m not sure why it occurs. Perhaps too much water from torrential downpours? Our plants don’t lose leaves up north. This doesn’t happen to all tropical milkweed, and there are other native and non-native milkweed species in Florida too, so they should be able to find milkweed somewhere.
I just wanted to know how long it takes for the milkweed to mature from the cuttings when grown under Hydroponic planting method.
Hi, I just grow them until they root and then plant them in-ground. This typically takes between 1-2 months. The system I tried to root them this season was not successful and the styrofoam inserts were causing them to rot, so I switched back to placing them in a glass of water (but this time using distilled water) and placed the glasses o my heated seedling mat.
If you’re looking for rapid growth and full size plants, someone just sent me this info which might help:
Hi there I am living in the Tropical South Pacific and have purchased A. Currassavica seeds but have had a really poor germination rate. I have bought a potting mix because not to sure on the quality of the soil in the Garden but still there not germinating well. They are planted in seed trays, and are on table under an open garage. There is a spot light that comes on automaticslly after it goes dark is this something that can affect the germination. If you have ideas please reply ok many thanks
Hi Toby, I soak my tropical milkweed seeds in warm water for 24 hours before planting them. You can keep the water at a good temperature by putting the seeds in a small bowl of water and placing it on a heated seedling mat. After you plant the seeds the heated seedling mat can also be used to speed up germination. You don’t need to use the spot light if they are getting light during the day. Our seedlings get about 10 hours of light. Check out this article for more info:
> “If you know other pollinators tropical milkweed attracts, please comment”
Bees, of course. Zebra Longwing, Gulf Fritillary, Cloudless Sulphur.
Thank you for sharing your experience! We don’t see Zebra Longwings or Gulf Fritillaries in the upper midwest so its nice to have reports from further south…
Nice butterfly pictures and we should also be getting our first freeze as well during same time as you. Received some A. Curassavica seeds and have 3 seedlings coming undergrowth light in the basement so excited, each day its seems one more pops up planted 15 seeds and using my tiny warmer as well. Also have seeds of A. Purpurasens and Asperula know both need cold/moist stratification. Would it be beneficial if they had some additional time in a cool fridge without the moist stratification prior to giving them moist stratification? Thanks for all you insights. Brian
I’m not sure that starting perennial seeds indoors at this point is a good idea. Tropical milkweed can be started now because it doesn’t have a specific bloom period and you’ll have mature flowering plants the entire summer.
Purpurascens and Asperula have bloom periods and I’m not sure how growing them all winter would affect that. You would be better off starting those seeds about 2 months before your average final frost in late winter. You could also winter sow them by planting them directly or keeping them in containers outside:
As for cold stratification, all I have ever done is put seeds in the refrigerator for a few weeks. I leave them in their packaging and put them inside a plastic bag in case something were to leak. This has always given me great germination results for milkweed. Hope this helps…
I live in zone 6, I had purchased several verities to grow this season. Our last frost has come and gone. I have not started my seeds inside and was going to start the stratification period now, will I miss the bloom periods? Am I too late?
are the varieties I bought
Hi Andrew, it’s late to be stratifying seeds but you could try an abbreviated cold moist stratification (1`-2 weeks) and hope for the best. If the seeds are fresh, you should have some success…otherwise, I would try to supplement with a few plants. Check out suggested milkweed stores and more plant listings below:
A. curassavica seeds only need to be soaked in water for 24 hours before planting and no stratification is necessary.
As the other varieties are native/hardy to zone 6. Can I still cold stratify and then harden off for outdoor planting? I realize I may not receive blooms this summer, but if they establish themselves, they should return next season. Or maybe my thought process is off on these. My first time trying to grow these. I saw a nice amount of monarch’s the last two years, they need a resting spot.
Hi Andrew, you could also just direct sow in the garden after you cold stratify. That would probably be easier this time of year. good luck!
I am wondering when you usually do your cuttings of the milkweed. I have plans to create an enclosed butterfly pavillion and a butterfly garden.
Hi Sarah, if you want mature tropical milkweed at the beginning of next spring, I would suggest fall cuttings. If you bring plants indoors to overwinter, you can take cuttings a couple months before your average last frost. This gives you a huge head start on the season. I will be posting about fall cuttings in late August or September. Good luck with your new garden and pavilion, Tony
I wanted to put in a plug for Asclepias tuberosa hello yellow. It is from the native in the south and the monarchs love it. It reseeds itself, not many perennial plants returning from old bases. I had about 20 of these last year and raised a lot of cats to maturity and I don’t think there are many problems with this milkweed.
Mexican Butterfly Weed Seeds – Tropical Milkweed Wildflower Seed
Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias Curassavica) – Here are more Tropical Milkweed seeds that produce tender evergreen perennials. Butterflies love this plant, and it provides a great food source for them! Commonly called Mexican Butterfly Weed, Blood Flower or Tropical Milkweed, these showy plants have blooms in the colors or red, orange and yellow.
In addition to bees and butterflies being attracted to Bloodflower plants, they are also used medicinally. Milkweed sap can be applied to skin to remove warts. The roots and leaves were used to cure dysentery, suppress coughs, and to treat fever and asthma.
Milkweed seed | tropical
How to grow
How To Grow Milkweed From Seed: Sow Butterfly Weed seeds early in the spring. Transplant seedlings outdoors after danger of frost has passed. Mexican Butterfly Weed plants require a sunny spot in moist, fertile soil. They are not as drought tolerant as other species of milkweeds. Keep the Bloodflower plants uniformly moist, but not saturated.
Pinch the tops of the plants to induce a bushy habit and provide more flowering branches. Blood Flower herb seeds can be grown as an annual in cooler climates. Sow flowers seeds indoors and transplant outdoors. Mexican Butterfly Weed seed is also considered to be a wildflower seed and once established, it will bloom until fall frosts.
- Sowing Rate: 5 ounces per 1,000 square feet or 2 – 4 seeds per plant
- Average Germ Time: 8 – 11 days
- Keep seeds moist until germination
- Attracts bees and butterflies
- Depth: Do not cover
The bloom season is long, lasting from early summer up until the first frost. The Tropical Milkweed herb is a tender perennial that if grown in containers can be wintered indoors for areas were there are freezing temperatures.
Tropical Milkweed Seeds -Asclepias Curassavica
It’s not only a host plant for monarchs, but is also an attractive nectar plants for the fall migrating monarch butterflies.
Outside in the soil in spring, seeds took 11 days to germinate. Inside on a heat mat, covered with a plastic cover, seeds will start to germinate in five days.
TM likes lots of sunshine, so I like to put it in a sunny area with little if any competing plants.
Tropical Milkweed,Bloodflower or Mexican Butterfly Weed (Asclepias Curassavica) – Here are more Butterfly Weed seeds that produce tender evergreen perennials. Butterflies love this plant, and it provides a great food source for them! Commonly called Mexican Butterfly Weed, Blood Flower or Tropical Milkweed, these showy plants have blooms in the colors or red, orange and yellow. In addition to the butterflies being attracted to Bloodflower plants, the plants are also used as a medicinal herb. The bloom season is long, lasting from early summer up until the first frost. The Tropical Milkweed herb is a tender perennial that if grown in containers can be wintered indoors for areas were there are freezing temperatures.
How To Grow Blood Flowers: Sow Butterfly Weed seeds early in the spring. Transplant seedlings outdoors after danger of frost has passed. Mexican Butterfly Weed plants require a sunny spot in moist, fertile soil. They are not as drought tolerant as other species of milkweeds. Keep the Bloodflower plants uniformly moist, but not saturated. Pinch the tops of the plants to induce a bushy habit and provide more flowering branches. Blood Flower herb seeds can be grown as an annual in cooler climates. Sow flowers seeds indoors and transplant outdoors. Mexican Butterfly Weed seed is also considered to be a wildflower seed and once established, it will bloom until fall frosts.