Learning Download: How to Grow Asclepias
Asclepias, commonly known as butterfly weed or milkweed, is a plant monarch butterflies need to survev, because it is the only food source that monarch caterpillars will eat. It is also is a host plant for other butterflies, such as queen and grey hairstreak butterflies.
Before Planting: Speed up the germination process by placing the seeds in a wet paper towel and then into a plastic bag. Place the bag in the refrigerator for 30 days prior to planting.
Planting: Plant the seeds outdoors in a sunny place, usually in the fall. Plant seeds 1/2 inch deep.
Watering: Avoid watering too much or too little. During droughts or in dry places, keep the flowers blooming with a light watering once a week.
Fertilizer: Asclepias doesn’t usually require fertilizer. However, a top dressing of compost or organic material around the plant can assist with its growth.
Days to Maturity: It takes two months for the Asclepias plant to grow big enough for a caterpillar to eat.
Harvesting: Do not harvest Asclepias, as it does best when it is planted in the garden and easily accessible to monarch butterflies.
Tips: Although its flowers shouldn’t be harvested, you can collect seeds from your milkweed plant to plant more. To collect the seeds, wear gloves and collect the seeds int the fall, when the pods are open. The pods should be green or brown and the seeds should be brown.