Swamp Milkweed - Asclepias incarnata

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Swamp Milkweed plant.

Swamp Milkweed is a perennial native to much of the US and despite its name, does not need to grow in a swampy, wet area. In fact, it grows quite well in dry clay soil. Flowers are pink and bloom in late summer to fall.

Swamp Milkweed is a Host Plant for Monarch Butterflies

Monarch butterflies use milkweed, and only milkweed, as a host plant. Swamp Milkweed is a favorite milkweed of Monarchs. Not only do they lay their eggs on it, they love it as a nectar source. Other milkweeds commonly grown for Monarchs are Tropical Milkweed and Butterfly Weed.

Where to buy Swamp Milkweed

Swamp Milkweed is not sold in typical nurseries as commonly as Butterfly Weed is. Burpee may sell some Swamp Milkweed seeds, otherwise the best place to find them is a native plant nursery. Be sure to check that the scientific name is really Asclepias incarnata if you want to buy this plant. Some places switch around the common names of milkweed plants with their scientific names, if they include them at all. Plants may not bloom first year from seed.

How to Propagate Swamp Milkweed

Seeds can be collected and grown the following year. Do not collect the seeds until the pods are already starting to open. (See below for pictures.) Seeds need a cold treatment before germinating. This can be done by either planting outside in the fall, or placing the seeds in the freezer for a few weeks before planting. New plants are fairly easy to start from cuttings also.

The Milkweed/Asclepiadaceae Family

Swamp Milkweed is a member of the Milkweed/Asclepiadaceae family. There are around 250 genera with nearly 2000 different species included in the Milkweed family. They can be found in both temperate and tropical climates and can be herbs, shrubs or vines. Most species have a milky fluid that is usually poisonous. The genus Asclepias has many species which the Monarch butterfly uses as a host plant. It is immune to the poisons in the plant.

Tropical Milkweed seed pod (similar to Swamp Milkweed seed pod), not open yet and not ready to have seeds gathered.

Tropical Milkweed seed pod, all opened up, showing seeds. It isn't necessary to wait until the pod is completely opened as in this picture to collect the seeds. In fact, if you wait too long, they blow away in the wind before you can get to them. Collect seeds when the pod just starts to open up a little.

More pictures of Swamp Milkweed, showing the flowers more close-up:

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