photo of Asclepias syriaca

Asclepias syriaca

Common Milkweed

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Common Milkweed is a wildlife-friendly perennial. The large, thick leaves are light green with red veins. Rounded clusters of fragrant,...

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Description:

Common Milkweed is a wildlife-friendly perennial. The large, thick leaves are light green with red veins. Rounded clusters of fragrant, pinkish-purple flowers bloom June-August. Large, bumpy seed pods split open when ripe to release silky, wind-dispersed seeds. The seed pods are used in dried floral arrangements. This plant’s nectar is a food source for butterflies, native bees, bumblebees, and honeybees. Common Milkweed is an important nectar source and larval (caterpillar) host plant for Monarch (Danaus plexippus) butterflies. The leaves and stems have a milky sap, which contains cardiac glycosides. When ingested by Monarch butterfly larvae feeding on the leaves, the cardiac glycosides make them (and the adult butterflies) toxic to birds and other predators. Common Milkweed grows well in poor, dry soils. It spreads by self-seeding and rhizomes (underground stems) to form colonies. This plant is best used in wildlife gardens, meadows, and other naturalized areas.

Plant Details:

Plant Type: Flower, Perennial

New Jersey Native: Yes

Deer Resistance: High

Attracts Pollinators and Wildlife: Bees and Other Pollinators, Butterflies, Hummingbirds

Salt Tolerance: Low to None

Hardiness Zone: 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b

Physiographic Region: All Regions in NJ

Grows in Special Ecoregions: Barrier Island/Coastal, Pinelands

Soil Characteristics

Soil Type: Loam, Organic, Sandy, Clay

Soil Moisture: Well-drained

Soil pH: Slightly Acidic, Neutral

Light Needs of Plant

Optimal Light: Full Sun

Light Range: Full Sun, Partial Shade

Water Needs of Plant

Soil Moisture: Well-drained

Drought Tolerance: High

Size and Growth Rate

Height: 4 - 5 ft

Spread: 2 - 3 ft

Growth Rate: Medium