SHOWY MILKWEED Asclepias speciosa
Showy Milkweed flowers each have extremely long and showy pink petals! We always find ourselves admiring the intricacies of the flowers, as they are quite unique. This is a fairly tall variety of Milkweed, with a similar plant structure to Common Milkweed, with broad, flat and attractive leaves.
The Milkweed flowers attract MANY butterflies of all kinds (not just Monarchs)! The beautiful perfume of the flowers is fragrant for quite a distance away, which draws butterflies of all kinds to it's nectar!
Milkweed is an essential perennial plant for the butterfly garden, and it is the ONLY plant that the monarch caterpillar can eat! It is probably the most used plant 'food' (nectar) for pollinators. Our milkweed have monarch caterpillars on it almost every year. Look carefully under the leaves, which is where they are usually hiding. If they are present on your plant, they will often make their chrysalis there too, and you can watch them transform from caterpillar to butterfly! Monarch butterflies are in steady decline, and habitat destruction is at least partially to blame.This plant can assist the monarch in recovering. Watching the life cycle of monarchs can be an excellent learning experience for kids too!
Location: Sun or part
Hardiness zones: 3-9
Bloom time: Mid summer to fall
Note: This plant species is known to have toxicity. Ingestion of these seeds or this plant can cause illness such as vomiting or diarrhea.
Seeds per pack: 20
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.