Meet Milkweed - the Monarch Nursery Plant

There are over 70 species of Milkweed worldwide, and we in Illinois are lucky to have multiple species that are native to the area. There are two types of native milkweed we carry in the shops: Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias Incarnata) and Butterfly Weed (Asclepias Tuberosa), all of which Monarch Butterflies will use for their full life cycles.

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Why Milkweed?

Milkweed is the only plant that Monarch butterfly caterpillars eat, so it is the plant that Monarchs lay their eggs on. In addition, the large flower displays provide nectar and pollen for insects and the cottony inside of the milkweed pods provides nesting material for birds.

Soil

Common Milkweed and Butterfly weed prefer well drained soil, Swamp Milkweed prefers damp, marshy areas and favors a more clay soil but will tolerate most soils with enough moisture.

Light Requirements

All milkweed varieties require full sun, so at least 6-8 hours of sun each day.

Planting Distance

Swamp milkweed can clump up to 30-36” around, so one option is to plant about 30" apart, or you could plant closer together and thin out plants as they grow in. Butterfly weed and Common Milkweed should be planted around 18” apart.

What to plant with or around milkweed 

We recommend Aster, Echinacea, Coreopsis, and Blazing Star

Other

Milkweed plants establish large deep root systems so transplanting is not advised.

Sources

  • www.nwf.org/Garden-for-Wildlife/About/Native-Plants/Milkweed
  • www.monarchjointventure.org
  • www.americanmeadows.com/perennials/milkweed/how-to-grow-milkweed