Asclepias curassavica L.
Tropical Milkweed, Blood Flower, Cotton Bush, Mexican Butterfly Weed, Red Head, Scarlet Milkweed, Wild Ipecacuanha
Asclepias aurantiaca, Asclepias bicolor, Asclepias cubensis, Asclepias margaritacea, Asclepias nivea var. curassavica
Bloom Time: Summer and fall
Asclepias curassavica is an evergreen perennial subshrub that grows up to 3.3 feet (1 m) tall. The leaves are arranged oppositely on the pale gray stems. They are lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate shaped, ending in acuminate or acute tips. Flowers are in cymes with 10 to 20 flowers each. They are up to 0.8 inches (2 cm) in diameter and have red corollas and corona lobes that are orange. Flowering occurs in summer and fall. The fruits are up to 4 inches (10 cm) long, fusiform shaped, and are called follicles.
USDA hardiness zone 8a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
You can easily grow Milkweeds to attract the Monarch and other flying creatures to your garden. Plant seeds of the Milkweed Plant indoors or direct sow outside after danger of frost has passed, and soil has warmed. If the appearance of the plant is too weedy for your taste, grow Milkweeds in a hidden but sunny corner or at the back of a border.
Milkweed often does not begin growing in northern gardens in time to be fully beneficial to butterflies. There you can start seeds of Milkweed inside so they will be ready to plant when the soil has warmed.
Milkweed plants benefit from vernalization, a process of cold treatment, before sprouting. They get this when planted outside, but to speed up the growing process, treat the seeds through stratification. Place seeds into a container of moist soil, cover with a plastic bag, and refrigerate for at least three weeks. Plant into containers, if desired, and place under a grow light inside about six weeks before soil temperatures outside have warmed. Keep the soil moist by misting, but seeds can rot if allowed to sit in soggy soil. See more at How to Grow and Care for Milkweed Plants.
Native to the American tropics.
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