Tropical Milkweed - Asclepias curassavica
| Introduction |
Tropical Milkweed plant.
Tropical Milkweed grows to about 4 feet in height. Two different colors of flowers are available. One is all orange and is called 'Silky Gold', while part of the flowers of the other type is red. (See below for pictures)
Tropical Milkweed is a Host Plant for Monarch Butterflies
Monarch butterflies use milkweed, and only milkweed, as a host plant. Tropical Milkweed has a high concentration of the poisons that make Monarchs more resistant to predators. Consequently, they tend to be very attracted to it. Although it is not native to much of the US, many butterfly gardeners like to grow it since Monarchs like it so much. Other milkweeds commonly grown for Monarchs are Swamp Milkweed and Butterfly Weed. as well as for the Queen (Danaus gilippus).
Where to buy Tropical Milkweed
Tropical Milkweed is not sold in typical nurseries in much of the US as commonly as Butterfly Weed is. Burpee may sell some Tropical Milkweed seeds, Park Seed also sells them. Be sure to check that the scientific name is really Asclepias curassavica 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. Tropical Milkweed will not survive most winters in the US and will need to be replanted each year. Seeds can be collected each year for use in the following year. For bests result start plants inside early in the spring so they have time to bloom and seeds mature before cold weather starts.
How to Propagate Tropical 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 do not need a cold treatment before germinating since it is a tropical plant. New plants are fairly easy to start from cuttings.
The Milkweed/Asclepiadaceae Family
Tropical 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.
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