17 Kinds of Milkweed You Can Plant within the USA (AND One to Keep away from!)

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“What forms of milkweed ought to I plant in my backyard?”

This will likely seem to be a loopy query when you’re simply getting began with native gardening. Why would you need to plant a weed?!

 

However milkweed isn’t a weed in any respect. As an alternative, it’s a flowering plant that draws butterflies (suppose Monarchs), native bees, and different pollinating bugs, which is a wonderful factor!

 

This text offers you details about widespread forms of milkweed in your space and which of them will probably be finest in your backyard. And, hold studying to the top to study a type of milkweed you need to keep away from!

 

You’ll discover a USDA Hardiness Zone for every Milkweed plant within the article. This refers to areas of the US the place crops do finest, primarily based on temperature. Here’s a map displaying the hardiness zones of the USA:

Hardiness Zones in the USA vary from 1a to 13b.

 

17 Kinds of Milkweed in the USA:

 

#1. Widespread Milkweed 

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Rising Info:

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Dimension: 3 to five toes; as much as 8 toes.
  • Bloom Time: June to August

 

Widespread Milkweed is the species most individuals consider after they hear the title milkweed. It’s a hardy perennial and one of the vital widespread forms of milkweed in the USA.

 

Milkweed will get its title from the latex or milky white secretions produced if the stem or leaves are damaged. The leaves are oval, about six to eight inches lengthy, and darkish inexperienced.

The blooms of the Widespread Milkweed plant are clusters of tiny flowers on stems that radiate from the bigger central stem. These clusters are referred to as umbels. The aromatic flowers are greenish-pink, pink, or purple and provides solution to 4-inch seed pods within the late summer time and early fall. Initially, the pods are inexperienced however slowly mature to brown. Finally, they break up open, revealing seeds and fluffy white materials referred to as coma that permits the seeds to disperse on the wind.

 

Widespread Milkweed is an extremely essential wildflower in the USA.

Over 450 native bugs feed on the nectar, sap, leaves, and flowers. As well as, it’s an essential meals supply for caterpillars of the Monarch Butterfly (Danuas plexippus). The grownup butterflies lay their eggs completely on members of the milkweed (Asclepias) household.

Apparently, all milkweed species include cardiac glycoside compounds. Monarch Butterflies and different bugs devour milkweed and retailer the compounds of their our bodies. Potential predators have realized to keep away from Monarchs to keep away from this harmful and bitter poison!

 

Widespread Milkweed is comparatively simple to develop, and it’s one of many best methods you possibly can assist help Monarch Butterflies. You’ll want a spot that receives full solar for planting. Widespread Milkweed does finest in well-drained areas however isn’t choosy about soil and might be grown in clay, loamy, or sandy areas. They tolerate poor soils and don’t have to be fertilized. It’s important by no means to make use of pesticides on these crops since they kill species like Monarch Butterflies.

 

Widespread Milkweed can unfold by seed, or underground rhizomes, that are root colonies. This implies you possibly can add Widespread Milkweed to your backyard by immediately sowing seeds or planting cuttings from an current plant.

 

#2. Whorled Milkweed

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Rising Info:

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-10
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Dimension: 1 to three toes
  • Bloom Time: Might to September

 

Whorled Milkweed is probably the most broadly distributed milkweed species in the USA.

 

This distinctive perennial is typically ignored by gardeners who need to plant milkweed. In comparison with different varieties, it has a slender stem and spiky leaves organized in a spiral sample. When not in bloom, it simply blends in amongst grasses.

It blooms from Might to September, forming flat-topped clusters of small greenish-white flowers on the top of every stem. The flowers entice varied bugs, together with bees, wasps, butterflies, skippers, beetles, and flies.

 

Whorled Milkweed remains to be a welcome host plant for Monarch Butterfly caterpillars regardless of its distinctive look. Since this species is among the final milkweeds to die again within the fall, it’s a fantastic late-season host for Monarchs making ready emigrate south!

 

This delicate-looking wildflower can simply develop from seed, however it could not flower the primary yr. It may be grown in full solar or partial shade. Whorled Milkweed thrives in varied habitats, together with fields, pastures, roadsides, dry prairies, dry slopes, woodlands, and meadows. Sadly, it’s extremely toxic to livestock and is taken into account a nuisance weed in agricultural areas.

It grows finest in dry soil of varied sorts, together with sandy, rocky, and clay soils. It may also be grown in moist, common backyard soil. Understand that it’s an aggressive spreader by seeds and underground rhizomes, so chances are you’ll not need to select this milkweed if in case you have a restricted space for gardening.

 

#3. Desert Milkweed

Rising Info:

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-11
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Dimension: 1.5 to 4 toes
  • Bloom Time: Might to July

 

Because the title suggests, this species is usually present in desert areas. Desert Milkweed typically grows on dry slopes and washes. The stems are yellow to inexperienced and broader on the base.

 

Figuring out this species might be tough as there’s some variation within the leaves. They develop in pairs on the stem and could also be utterly clean or densely lined in cream-colored hair. They’re usually boring grayish or pale to darkish inexperienced. Desert Milkweed blooms from Might to July, forming rounded umbels or clusters of about 20 small flowers atop the stems. The flowers are white, cream, or yellow.

Desert Milkweed is kind of adaptable and might be grown from seed in lots of house gardens. It wants well-drained sandy soils in areas with low natural matter. It must be planted in full solar. Like different milkweeds, its giant taproot offers it wonderful drought tolerance.

 

This species is a number plant for the Monarch Butterfly, Queen Butterfly, Clio Tiger Moth, and Euchaetes Zella Moth. The blooms additionally entice a wide range of pollinators, together with native bees.

 

#4. Butterfly Weed

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Rising Info:

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Dimension: 2 to three toes
  • Bloom Time: Might to September

 

Butterfly Weed is a showy member of the milkweed household. Typically referred to as Orange Milkweed, this perennial wildflower options giant flat-topped clusters of tiny flowers that develop 2 to five inches throughout. The blooms are sensible orange or yellow.

 

Apparently, its darkish inexperienced leaves and stems don’t produce the identical milky sap as different species of milkweed in the USA.

 

Butterfly Weed is a wonderful alternative for gardens and or wildflower meadows. The attractive flowers are aromatic and are perfect for lower flower preparations. In addition they entice native bees, butterflies, and honeybees to your backyard. Butterfly Weed can also be a number plant for Monarch, Grey Hairstreak, and Queen butterfly caterpillars.

This native flower is a good low-maintenance alternative for the house gardener. Butterfly Weed’s deep taproots imply you’ll by no means must water it as soon as it’s established. As well as, this plant is extremely drought tolerant and thrives in full solar. Butterfly Weed additionally does high quality with none fertilization however grows finest in rocky or sandy soil.

 

In contrast to Widespread Milkweed, this species doesn’t transplant nicely and must be began from seed.

 

#5. Purple Milkweed

Rising Info:

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Dimension: 2 to three toes
  • Bloom Time: Might to July

 

Purple Milkweed is among the most vibrantly colourful species of milkweed in the USA!

 

It produces a fantastic, rounded cluster of vibrant purple flowers. The flowers are aromatic and entice varied nectar-seeking bugs, together with Monarchs and lots of different butterflies.

Sadly, this species of milkweed is taken into account endangered or of particular concern in components of its vary. This stunning wildflower is a necessary host species for Monarch Butterfly caterpillars which feed on the leaves. Search for Purple Milkweed in open woodlands, ridges, thickets, meadows, prairie openings, stream banks, and moist meadows within the wild.

 

Within the backyard, it’s simple to domesticate in common, well-drained soil. It does nicely in poor-quality or dry soils and may be very drought-tolerant as soon as established. Purple Milkweed thrives in full solar and can unfold by seeds and underground rhizomes. It typically varieties intensive colonies, so ensure you have loads of area when you select this milkweed!

 

#6. White Milkweed

Rising Info:

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Dimension: As much as 3 toes
  • Bloom Time: Might to July

 

White Milkweed has distinctive, spherical clusters of about 30 small, white flowers. At first, the flower buds are inexperienced however flip white earlier than blossoming. There are tinges of purple on the base, which is why this perennial can also be referred to as Redring Milkweed. The flowers are filled with nectar and have a candy perfume that draws bees, wasps, butterflies, and ants.

 

In contrast to many milkweed species that favor full solar, White Milkweed usually grows in open woodland and alongside woodland edges. Nevertheless, in the backyard, it thrives in areas with partial shade and creates a snowball impact with its attractive spherical clusters of white flowers.

Sadly, this milkweed species is endangered in components of its vary, however it may be cultivated from seed. White Milkweed is adaptable to many climates however does finest in sandy or rocky, well-drained soil.

 

White Milkweed doesn’t usually type giant colonies in a pure setting, in contrast to different milkweed species. Mixed with its tendency to develop in partial shade, this shortage means it isn’t a crucial host plant for Monarch butterfly caterpillars. Nevertheless, they’ll often use it in a backyard setting. Different bugs like bees, tussock caterpillars, and native butterflies will even be interested in White Milkweed.

 

#7. Poke Milkweed

Rising Info:

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Dimension: 2 to six toes
  • Bloom Time: Might to August

 

Poke Milkweed’s flower clusters are pendulous, hanging down from the plant like a weeping willow. They usually have about ten flowers, white with a inexperienced or lavender tinge. The leaves of the Poke Milkweed plant are darkish inexperienced with purplish veins that stand out.

 

In contrast to many milkweed species in the USA, Poke Milkweed is commonly present in partial shade.

 

This species might be grown in partial shade to full daylight within the backyard. It prefers soil with average moisture and wealthy natural materials. It may be grown efficiently in lots of house gardens and is straightforward to start out from seed.

 

Poke Milkweed is a wonderful addition to any butterfly lover’s backyard. It’s a number plant for the caterpillars of Monarchs, Nice Spangled Fritillaries, Tiger Swallowtails, Skippers, and Pearl Crescents. Its blooms additionally entice varied different bees and butterflies.

 

#8. Inexperienced Comet Milkweed

Rising Info:

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-10
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Dimension: 1.5 to 2 toes
  • Bloom Time: June to September

 

Inexperienced Comet Milkweed flower clusters type within the pocket created by the higher leaves. They’re made up of 20 to 80 small, pale inexperienced flowers. Apparently, the yellowish-green leaves of this species differ in form relying upon their habitat. Vegetation from moist websites are likely to have rounder leaves, whereas crops from dry websites have lengthy, slender leaves.

 

Within the wild, this species is commonly discovered on shaded roadsides, savannas, and prairies with moist to dry soil. Within the backyard, you possibly can develop Inexperienced Comet Milkweed from seeds. It grows finest in mild to average shade however will tolerate full solar. Medium-dry to dry soil is finest. Inexperienced Comet Milkweed doesn’t want wealthy soil and can tolerate sandy or rocky soil with low natural matter.

 

This species is an efficient alternative for low-maintenance gardens as its lengthy taproot permits it to tolerate drought nicely. In contrast to many different milkweeds, this species is straightforward to forestall from spreading. It doesn’t type the big colonies typical to different milkweeds, so it’s a superb possibility for smaller gardens!

 

The Inexperienced Comet Milkweed’s copious nectar and candy perfume entice many pollinators, together with honeybees, native bees, and butterflies. It’s additionally a number plant for Monarch Butterflies, although it may be more difficult for monarchs to seek out due to its shortage and desire for partial shade.

 

#9. Showy Milkweed

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Rising Info:

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-8
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Dimension: 1.5 to three toes; often as much as 6 toes
  • Bloom Time: Might to September

 

Because the title suggests, Showy Milkweed options flashy pink and white umbels or clusters of small flowers. The flowers are aromatic, and particular person flowers look a bit like crowns. In ultimate situations, Showy Milkweed could develop as tall as 6 toes!

As a backyard plant, Showy Milkweed has the good thing about being a much less aggressive spreader than most different milkweed varieties in the USA. It may be grown simply from seed or the cuttings of an current plant. It’s very drought tolerant and might be grown in a variety of soils.

 

Like different milkweeds, Showy Milkweed attracts native bugs and Monarch Butterflies to your yard or backyard. Monarchs will go to the flowers for nectar and lay eggs on the crops, that are host crops for the Monarch caterpillars. It can additionally entice stunning Queen and Viceroy butterflies to your property!

 

#10. Inexperienced Milkweed

Rising Info:

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Dimension: 10 inches to 2 toes
  • Bloom Time: April to September

 

Within the wild, Inexperienced Milkweed might be discovered rising on prairies, roadsides, clearings, ditches, and disturbed roadsides. It thrives in dry areas with limestone soils and grows in giant clusters.

 

Sometimes, one Inexperienced Milkweed stem will produce a single cluster of small flowers. The flowers are white or yellow-green with a purple tinge. Bigger crops could have a number of clusters on one stem.

 

Inexperienced Milkweed might be simply grown from seed in house gardens. It’s tolerant of sunshine shade however does finest in areas that obtain full solar. Its giant taproot offers it wonderful drought resistance. Sow it in areas with well-drained sandy or rocky soil for finest outcomes.

 

This is among the first species of milkweed in the USA to die again in late summer time.

 

This makes it much less interesting to Monarchs and different moths and butterflies as a number plant than different species. Nevertheless, it’s nonetheless typically used, and resident butterflies and different pollinators frequent its flowers for nectar.

 

#11. Aquatic Milkweed

Rising Info:

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-11
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Dimension: 1.5 to 2 toes
  • Bloom Time: Might to September

 

Aquatic Milkweed can solely develop in areas the place the soil is constantly moist! Due to this fact, it may be present in floodplains, waterway margins, marshes, cypress swamps, ditches, and wetlands within the wild. This perennial is well recognized by the big pink spot on the tip of the unopened flowers.

 

Aquatic Milkweed produces umbels with about 25 flowers. The flowers are usually white or mild pink.

Though it has pretty particular necessities, Aquatic Milkweed might be grown in house gardens in the correct local weather. It wants full daylight and constantly moist soil. It’s a superb alternative for planting round water options and moist areas.

 

This species is a number for Monarch, Queen, and Soldier Butterfly caterpillars which eat the plant’s leaves. Bees, butterflies, and different pollinators are additionally interested in the plant’s aromatic flowers.

 

#12. Antelope Horns

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Rising Info:

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-9
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Dimension: 1 to 2 toes
  • Bloom Time: March to October

 

Antelope Horns, also referred to as spider flower, tends to sprawl towards the bottom as an alternative of standing upright. The stems of this milkweed are green-tinged with maroon and densely lined in tiny hairs.

 

This milkweed species will get its title from its comparatively distinctive seed pods. The curved, upturned pods are thought to resemble antelope horns. When considered from a distance, these crops resemble a area of antelope. The leaves are slender, as much as 8 inches lengthy, and fold inward alongside the center vein. Search for the whitish-green or purple flower clusters throughout its lengthy blooming season.

Like different milkweeds, Antelope Horns’ flowers entice a wide range of pollinators. Massive native bee species often go to the blooms. The crops are additionally hosts for Monarch, Soldier, and Queen butterfly caterpillars.

 

This species is comparatively simple to develop from seed. Antelope Horns want full solar to thrive and like sandy or rocky soil with little natural matter. It’s a fantastic low-maintenance alternative, and it thrives with none fertilization and little watering resulting from its giant taproot.

 

#13. Narrowleaf Milkweed

Rising Info:

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-10
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Dimension: 1 to three toes
  • Bloom Time: June to September

 

Narrowleaf Milkweed, typically referred to as Mexican Whorled Milkweed in the USA, is commonly seen rising in giant teams. It has a way more delicate, grass-like look than Widespread Milkweed.

 

It’s most conspicuous when it’s in bloom, from June via September. The blooms are upright clusters of about 20 small flowers. The flowers are variable in shade, from greenish to pink, white, and even purple. The skinny, spiky leaves are organized in a spiral across the stem. Starting in July, seed pods substitute the blooms. The seed pods are slender, skinny, clean, and lengthy. They break up down the aspect and launch wind-borne mild brown seeds and coma when mature.

 

Within the wild, Narrowleaf Milkweed is usually discovered within the dry climates of plains, foothills, valleys, and roadsides. Within the backyard, it may be began from seed and is a good low-maintenance plant. It thrives in areas with full solar and is drought-tolerant.

 

This species is a number plant for the caterpillars of Monarch and Queen Butterflies and Isabella Tiger, Clio Tiger, Hitched Arches, and Euchaetes Zella moths Numerous different pollinators like bumblebees and wasps additionally go to the plant’s blooms.

 

#14. Swamp Milkweed

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Rising Info:

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-6
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Dimension: 3 to five toes
  • Bloom Time: June to October

 

Because the title suggests, this moisture-loving perennial is usually discovered rising wild on creek banks and ditches or in openings in swamps, bogs, marshes, and different moist areas. So if you’re in search of a plant for the moist spot in your yard, Swamp Milkweed is an ideal alternative.

 

This species thrives in moist, mucky clay soils. It’s nice for planting round ponds or streams in your property. This species requires full solar to thrive and spreads via each seeds and underground rhizomes.

 

Like different milkweeds in the USA, the blooms are clusters of smaller flowers. The sunshine pink, purple, or white flowers of Swamp Milkweed will entice varied species of native bees and butterflies to your backyard. It’s additionally a number plant for monarch butterfly caterpillars.

 

#15. California Milkweed

Rising Info:

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-10
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Dimension: 1.5 to three toes
  • Bloom Time: April to July

 

The California Milkweed is a perennial herb with a singular, wooly look. The boring grayish-green stems and leaves are thickly lined in white hairs.

 

The blooms of this species are pendulous, drooping clusters of about ten small pink or lavender flowers. The wool-like hair discovered on the stems and leaves is current all over the place however the flower head.

Within the wild, California Milkweed grows on dry slopes, canyons, chaparral, or woodland foothills. It does nicely in sizzling, dry situations. California Milkweed must be grown in full solar as a result of it doesn’t tolerate even partial shade. As a result of its giant taproot, it’s extraordinarily drought tolerant as soon as established and thrives in a variety of soils, together with sand and clay. It does finest in well-drained soil.

 

In the event you’re in search of a plant that can tolerate sizzling, dry climate and entice pollinators, California Milkweed is likely to be excellent! Its flowers entice a wide range of bee and butterfly species. California Milkweed can also be a number plant for Monarch Butterfly, Queen Butterfly, and Clio Tiger Moth caterpillars.

 

#16. Sandhill Milkweed

Rising Info:

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-11
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Dimension: 1 to three toes
  • Bloom Time: March to June

 

Sandhill Milkweed in the USA has a fairly distinctive progress behavior. Its Latin title “humistrata” means low rising or sprawling, which is an ideal description for Sandhill Milkweed, which grows flat or practically flat alongside the bottom. It’s typically discovered inside or adjoining to open forests and grows in areas with very dry sandy soils that obtain full daylight.

 

This species produces clusters of about 30 flowers. The cream, white, or mild pink flowers give solution to clean, erect seed pods 3 to six inches lengthy. When mature, they break up and launch brown seed and white coma.

 

Sandhill Milkweed might be propagated from seeds or cuttings and is comparatively low upkeep. It must be planted in areas with dry sandy soil that obtain full solar or practically full solar.

 

This milkweed species is a number to Monarch and Queen Butterfly caterpillars that feed on the plant’s leaves. Sandhill Milkweed flowers additionally entice varied pollinators and are a favourite of native bees.

 

#17. Zizotes Milkweed

Rising Info:

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-9
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Dimension: 1 to 1.5 toes
  • Bloom Time: March to September

 

This species can also be recognized merely as Zizotes or “hierba de zizotes.” It’s the least hardy species of milkweed in the USA and requires a heat local weather to outlive.

 

The greenish-white flowers of the Zizotes Milkweed are notable for his or her lengthy, slender hoods, which prolong up and over the central column making this species simple to establish in bloom. The person flowers appear like tiny champagne flutes!

 

This species can develop within the wild in prairies, fields, desert grasslands, pinyon-juniper woodlands, and ditches with sandy or rocky soil. At house gardens, Zizotes Milkweed might be grown from seed. Nevertheless, this species doesn’t tolerate shade and must be planted in full solar with dry, sandy soil.

 

This milkweed species is very notable as a result of it might probably survive periodic droughts and even occasional mowing. Consequently, it’s a straightforward solution to incorporate pollinator-friendly, native crops into your panorama. As well as, like different milkweeds, this species is a crucial host plant for the caterpillars of Monarchs.

 

Tropical Milkweed

Rising Info:

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 8-11
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Dimension: 3 to 4 toes
  • Bloom Time: March to November in temperate climates, year-round in tropical climates.

 

This non-native milkweed plant has change into well-liked lately due to its flowers’ vibrant crimson coloring and the way simple it’s to plant and preserve.

 

Sadly, Tropical Milkweed planted in the USA could do extra hurt than good.

 

It carries a parasite of Monarch Butterflies referred to as Ophryocystis elektroscirrha, or OE, which may trigger defects within the wings of Monarchs. Because it doesn’t die again and might bloom late, the plant itself might also confuse Monarchs by signaling a breeding season when it’s time emigrate.

To make sure you’re planting milkweed that can assist your native ecosystem and entice native pollinators, all the time select a local species!

 

Entrepreneurs of Tropical Milkweed seeds will use the names Mexican Milkweed, Bloodflower, Mexican Butterfly Weed, Mexican Orange Milkweed, and Semi-Tropical Milkweed. Keep away from all of those!

 

Are you in search of extra data on milkweed in the USA?

 

Take a look at this information!

 

Do you could have milkweed in your backyard?

 

What’s your favourite factor about this plant? Depart a remark beneath!

 

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