Silky Deep Red Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica), also called Blood Flower, is striking in the garden and is a vital host plant for the endangered monarch butterfly. This easy care bushy perennial reseeds easily, isn’t fussy about soil or water, and can grow just about anywhere. Puts out bright, showy 2"-4" flower clusters in brilliant red-orange with yellow centers on slender stems that grow 2'-3' tall. Blooms continuously summer through fall, providing migrating monarchs with nectar snacks for their long journey and a place to lay their eggs. Can be grown as an annual in cooler grow zones. Lovely and long-lasting in cut flower arrangements.
- Life cycle: Herbaceous perennial
- Bloom season: Summer, fall
- Attracts: Beneficial insects, hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, and other pollinators
- Flower meaning: Dignity, freedom, rejection, remembrance, solitude
As a medicinal plant, Milkweed has been used internally to treat diarrhea, gonorrhea, intestinal parasites and worms, pneumonia, spleen inflammation, and stomach tumors, and externally to treat bleeding, boils, corns, dermatitis, eye infections, ringworm, skin parasites, snakebites, sores, warts, and wounds.
⚠️ Although Milkweed is known to be safe when used correctly, all parts of the plant are toxic and may even cause death to people, pets, horses, and livestock if ingested in large quantities. The milky sap is a skin irritant. Do not ingest while pregnant or nursing.
⚠️ Medicinal properties are presented as information only, and are not a recommendation or prescription for use. Consult a medical professional before using any plant medicinally.
NOTE: A parasite, Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE), travels with monarchs and is deposited on every plant they visit. In warm grow zones where this non-native milkweed does not die back from a killing frost, the OE parasite can build up and harm the caterpillars that feed on the leaves and the butterflies they become. A continuously blooming milkweed may also encourage the monarchs to dally rather than migrate, which interrupts their reproductive cycle. It’s easy to eliminate both dangers, by cutting your plants to the ground at least once per season.
SEED PLANTING TIPS
- Botanical name: Asclepias curassavica
- Hardiness zones: 8-11
- Planting season: Spring, fall
- Days to maturity: 100-120 days
- Cold stratify: No
- Depth to plant seeds: 1/4" deep - Soaking seeds in warm water overnight aids germination.
- Spacing between plants: 1'-2' apart
- Days to germinate (sprout): 10-21 days
- Germination soil temps: 60F-70F
- Soil types: Clay, caliche, sandy, loamy, silty, rocky, chalky, rich, dry, moist, wet
- Soil pH: 6.1-7.5
- Water needs: Average
- Sun needs: Full sun, part shade
- Frost tolerant: No
- Drought tolerant: Yes
- Deer resistant: Yes
More facts about Milkweed:
- The beautiful monarch butterflies rely on milkweed to lay their eggs upon. Sadly, habitats that naturally support monarchs are becoming fewer in number each year. New urban development & chemically treated "big agriculture" are destroying habitats of milkweed all over the United States.
- Sow in early January for first year blooms.
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