ROSE MILKWEED Asclepias incarnata
Asclepias incarnata, rose milkweed, swamp milkweed, rose milkflower, swamp silkweed, or Indian hemp, is a herbaceous perennial plant species native to North America. It grows in damp to wet soils and also is cultivated as a garden plant for its flowers, which attract butterflies and other pollinators with nectar. Like most other milkweeds, it has sap containing toxic chemicals, a characteristic that repels insects and other herbivorous animals.
Swamp milkweed is an upright, 100 to 150 cm (39 to 59 in) tall plant. The plants bloom in early to mid-summer, producing small, pink-colored flowers in rounded umbels. The flower color may vary from darker s of purple to soft, pinkish purple and a white flowering form exists as well (these seeds are for the pink flowers). After blooming, green seed pods, approximately 12 centimetres (4.7 in) long, are produced that when ripe, split open. They then release light to dark brown, flat seeds that are attached to silver-white silky-hairs ideal for catching the wind. This natural mechanism for seed dispersal is similar to that used by other milkweed plants.
Swamp milkweed prefers moisture retentive to damp soils in full sun to partial and typically, is found growing wild near the edges of ponds, lakes, streams, and low areas—or along ditches. It is one of the best attractors of the monarch butterfly, which feeds on the flowers and lays her eggs on the plants. The emerging caterpillars feed on the leaves.
This species is cultivated. They are used especially in gardens designed to attract butterflies. The nectar of the plant attracts many other species of butterflies and insects as well. The plants are also sold as freshly cut flowers, mostly for their long-lasting flower display, but sometimes, for the distinctive seed pods.
Type: Hardy perennial
Height: 100 to 150 cm (39 to 59 in)
Location: Sun or part sun
Hardiness zones: 3-9
Bloom time: Mid summer to fall. These seeds are for the pink-flowered plants
Seeds per pack: 10
Note: This plant species is known to have toxicity. Ingestion of these seeds or this plant can cause illness such as vomiting or diarrhea.
Germination: As with many perennial seeds, these seeds can benefit from a period of moist cold to help them break dormancy. This is done by giving them a cold 'winter' period (artificial or natural), and then a warming to simulate 'spring', and time to grow! Here's how this can be done:
Obtain a planting container that has holes in the bottom for excess water to drain. Place the seeds just under the surface of your growing medium, and water. Place your container in a cold area (but not freezing, perhaps a refrigerator) for 4-6 weeks. Once the cold period is completed, place the container at room temperature for them to germinate. Be sure to keep the soil moist during this entire germination period. Seedlings will sprout a few weeks, or occasionally several months, after the warming period.
If you are planting your seeds in late winter or spring, these seeds can be planted outdoors while it is still cool out (once the ground is workable and unfrozen), to receive the cold period naturally in the garden.