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Native Plants Series: Butterfly Milkweed

How can we cover native plants and not include Butterfly milkweed?

There are several milkweeds native to the US and you will find ever more new cultivars in the garden center. I urge you to find at least one straight species to grow in your garden.

Butterfly milkweed is native to the Eastern and Southern US. Here in South Central PA, milkweed is not only a host plant for the endangered monarch butterfly, but to at least 12 other moth and butterfly caterpillars as well.

This is the milkweed for your dryer locations in full sun. They have a deep taproot, so don't plan on moving them. They will self-seed freely, but it may take a few years for new plants to flower. This one blooms in bright orange from spring through summer. Lower growing than many natives at only 1-2' tall, plant it near the edge of the garden in a mass - massing plants can help pollinators spot them from the air.

Cut your milkweed back a bit before it blooms to encourage branching and more flowers.

Sources: USDA, National Wildlife Federation, Missouri Botanical Garden

📷: deniseellsworth on Pixabay

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