days to maturity:
plant spacing: 1 plant per 6 square feet
sunlight requirements: 6-14 hours
look out for: beetles
harvest notes: prune for wanted shape
Milkweed is a classification of plants that has many species that vary widely based on region, climate and growing conditions, and our most popular and easy to grow variety is the “Mexican butterfly plant” aka “tropical milkweed”. This easy to grow beautiful perennial is the main host plant for the monarch butterfly, so its most commonly added to gardens as a food source for their caterpillars. Occasionally customers who buy it for its showy flowers send us photos and exclaim “help! whats eating my plant?!” and we explain the important relationship this plant has with native butterfly populations. If monarch caterpillars eat your entire milkweed do not fear; it is made to be consumed by the caterpillars and it will grow back from the root crown. Milkweed also self propagates via seed dispersion very easily. Once mature the seed pods pop open and the seeds, which are attached to fluff like dandelions, float around the garden with the wind. If you’re hoping to attract monarchs to your garden this is a surefire way, as they find the plant where it may be planted!
Many butterfly enthusiasts choose not to plant this non-native species in their garden for a number of reasons including delaying the migration patterns of monarchs and the increased spread of a butterfly disease that is linked to this plant in particular. Despite these issues this is still a very commonly used food source for monarchs so we have chosen to continue selling it as we work on building up our inventory of native alternatives. You can read more about the issue and make a decision for yourself about wether you should plant or not plant this species here.