How to grow milkweed for monarch butterflies

For late summer blooms that feed hungry monarch butterflies, try milkweed.

Are you ready to explore more options for monarch butterflies beyond the common milkweed? rounded milkweed (Asclepias verticilata) is a great choice if you want pretty blooms later in the summer season – and royalty love them! Learn more about this delicious group of milkweed.

Before you start gardening, check out our ultimate guide to growing milkweed.

Where does nymph milkweed grow?

Brian Wollman/Getty Images
This wildflower native to North America is a host plant for royalty.

Native to North America and hardy in Zones 3 through 9, you’ll have the most success growing milkweed if you live in central or eastern North America. It’s a perennial, so once established, it will come back every year without too much trouble. (Although it has “weed” in its name, milkweed is considered a wildflower, not a weed.) In the wild, you’ll find it and similar species growing in grasslands, prairies, and along roadsides.

Some types of milkweed, including this one, can be aggressive. Try grouping other native plants around it as a barrier to keep their roots in check. Otherwise, if you have a small garden, consider growing your milkweed in its own container so it doesn’t end up crowding out its neighbours.

Find out the top 10 varieties of milkweed that support monarch butterflies.

What does rolled milkweed look like?

Milkweed rounded in bloomVia

This species has loose clusters of small white-green flowers. It got its name from the shape of its leaves. Its long leaves are usually about two inches long. If you’re familiar with the broad, oval leaves of common milkweed, you’ll know that this is a big difference. It also does not grow very tall, reaching only 1 to 3 feet in length. When not in bloom, their leaves and short stature can cause them to blend in with weeds.

One reason to consider growing this type of milkweed is that it blooms later in the season than other milkweed plants, usually starting in July and flowering until early September. This is a great time for the migration of the monarch butterflies, which depend on milkweed as a food source. Just keep in mind that your milkweed may not bloom until its second year.

Discover fascinating milkweed facts you should know.

Care and growing tips

Asclepias verticillata (milkweed) is a wild prairie flower native to North AmericaBrian Wollman/Getty Images
Milkweed grown in full sun will thrive

Although it will tolerate partial sun, this butterfly host plant likes full sun. Like other milkweeds, it is not overly picky about soil. However, it is an especially great choice for loamy or sandy soils. In general, milkweed is a drought-tolerant plant that will do fine with no intervention, but if you notice it looking dry or wilted, especially in the height of summer, feel free to water it.

This plant is also deer-resistant and typically has no pest problems other than the occasional aphid.

Learn how to grow bog milkweed and showy milkweed.

Do monarch butterflies like round milkweed?

Milkweed roundedVia

Yes! Monarchs love all types of milkweed, including round milkweed. In fact, milkweed is the only food source for monarch caterpillars, making it essential. Although the curling leaves of milkweed are narrow compared to other milkweed species, the caterpillars love them just as much. Adult monarchs will also stop by milkweed for nectar-rich flowers.

Keep in mind that although milkweed is not toxic to butterflies and caterpillars, it can cause serious health complications to pets and livestock if ingested. If your furry companion is curious, keep an eye on him when he’s outside – or grow your milkweed in containers or in a part of the garden the animal can’t get to.

Note: It’s not just milkweed that attracts kings! Bees and other pollinators enjoy the flowers, too.

Next, learn how to collect milkweed seeds from the pods.

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