Tropical Milkweed




Botanical Name:  Asclepias curassavica

Common Name:  Tropical milkweed

Even though this milkweed isn’t native to our area, it’s still a good staple to have in our gardens. Why, you ask? Well, tropical milkweed is extremely easy to grow; it’s a host and nectar plant for the Monarch and Queen butterflies just like the native; and other butterflies, hummingbirds, and pollinators also like it for its nectar.

Tropical milkweed is a semi-evergreen perennial that grows tall and skinny: 3-4′ tall x 1-2′ wide. It loves being in your sun to part sun garden, and it’s not particular what type of soil it’s grown in. It’ll multiply nicely in your garden by reseeding itself with cool silky parachutes that fly with the wind to distribute the seeds. But the seedlings are easy to pull up if you get too many babies. The flower colors come in scarlet, red, and yellow. If you need a certain color just let me know.

Even though we need to have nectar sources available year round for the hummers and butterflies who stay here in the winter, some theories are we don’t want the Monarchs to hang around too long before they continue their journey down south for the winter. One reason for this theory is the spores of a disease called Ophyrocystis elektroscirrha (OE) can build up on Tropical milkweed plants. A simple way to control the disease is from November till about February stagger cutting back your milkweed. This helps the plants to refresh their leaves, and your garden doesn’t have so much available nectar plants that the Monarchs don’t want to journey on.

I always suggest mixing native and non-native milkweed into our gardens. That way the butterflies and hummingbirds have plenty of nectar sources to choose from.

Florida Friendly Plant

Zones 8 – 11

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