“What types of milkweed should I plant in my garden?”
This may seem like a crazy question if you’re just getting started with native gardening. Why would you want to plant a weed?!
But milkweed isn’t a weed at all. Instead, it’s a flowering plant that attracts butterflies (think Monarchs), native bees, and other pollinating insects, which is an excellent thing!
This article will give you information about common types of milkweed in your area and which ones will be best for your garden. And, keep reading to the end to learn about a kind of milkweed you want to avoid!
1 Types of Milkweed in British Columbia:
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#1. Showy Milkweed
- Asclepias speciosa
- USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-8
- Life Cycle: Perennial
- Approximate Mature Size: 145 to 90 centimeters; occasionally up to 3 meters
- Bloom Time: May to September
As the name suggests, Showy Milkweed features flashy pink and white umbels or clusters of small flowers. The flowers are fragrant, and individual flowers look a bit like crowns. In ideal conditions, Showy Milkweed may grow as tall as 3 meters!
As a garden plant, Showy Milkweed has the benefit of being a less aggressive spreader than most other milkweed varieties in British Columbia. It can be grown easily from seed or the cuttings of an existing plant. It’s very drought tolerant and can be grown in a wide range of soils.
Like other milkweeds, Showy Milkweed attracts native insects and Monarch Butterflies to your yard or garden. Monarchs will visit the flowers for nectar and lay eggs on the plants, which are host plants for the Monarch caterpillars. It will also attract beautiful Queen and Viceroy butterflies to your property!
- Asclepias curassavica
- USDA Hardiness Zone: 8-11
- Life Cycle: Perennial
- Approximate Mature Size: up to 1.5 meters
- Bloom Time: March to November in temperate climates, year-round in tropical climates.
This non-native milkweed plant has become popular in recent years because of its flowers’ bright red coloring and how easy it is to plant and maintain.
Unfortunately, Tropical Milkweed planted in British Columbia may do more harm than good.
It carries a parasite of Monarch Butterflies called Ophryocystis elektroscirrha, or OE, which can cause defects in the wings of Monarchs. Since it doesn’t die back and can bloom late, the plant itself may also confuse Monarchs by signaling a breeding season when it’s time to migrate.
To ensure you’re planting milkweed that will help your local ecosystem and attract native pollinators, always choose a native species!
Marketers of Tropical Milkweed seeds will use the names Mexican Milkweed, Bloodflower, Mexican Butterfly Weed, Mexican Orange Milkweed, and Semi-Tropical Milkweed. Steer clear of all of these!
Are you looking for more information on milkweed in British Columbia?
Check out this guide!
Do you have milkweed in your garden?
What’s your favorite thing about this plant? Leave a comment below!