Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) grows wild throughout much of the United States, but it can also be grown in your garden to attract monarch butterflies and other beneficial insects. Milkweed species are easy to grow once you have access to the plants or have successfully germinated seeds, which can take up to two weeks in cold soil. Follow these steps to ensure your milkweed sprouts and grows into an attractive plant that can support butterflies and other pollinators in your garden through winter. Here are 10 tips for growing common milkweed in your garden!
Place your plants strategically
Plant your plants strategically. If you want butterflies and monarchs to enjoy your plants as much as you do, set up a butterfly garden by adding native plants, rocks, and logs. If bees are important to you, plant common milkweed near your garden or backyard.
If your goal is to help pollinators at the large, plant a patch of common milkweed on the edge of town. Avoid planting common milkweed near freeways or heavily polluted areas to keep the pests away. It’s best to plant milkweeds that are native to your area so they can better adapt to local conditions.
Common milkweed will grow best if planted in well-drained soil, with plenty of sun and water. Monarch caterpillars rely on this plant when they go into hibernation during wintertime so make sure you don’t forget about it! In addition to helping pollinators like honeybees, bumblebees, and hummingbirds, this type of milkweed can also attract beautiful butterflies like hairstreaks, skippers, swallowtails, and checkerspots!
As an added bonus, these plants are non-invasive which means they won’t spread beyond their designated boundaries. Just make sure not to get any type of weeds mixed up with the real thing!
Consider hedges or borders
Hedges and borders provide shelter for local wildlife. Consider choosing common milkweed hedges or borders near houses to provide safe spots for butterflies, bees, and birds. As it turns out, this plant is a great deterrent to predators such as deer because it tastes bad to them, which may reduce their attraction to your garden or yard. It’s also a good way to help keep your garden looking tidy because they are said to root out other weeds while they’re at it!
- Start with plants that are 8-12 inches tall and 3-4 inches wide so they will be easy to care for (and hide) when they get bigger.
- Place them about 4-5 feet apart and water once a week if you have poor soil. If you have rich soil, water twice a week.
- Plant in the morning or evening to avoid the heat of the day if possible; otherwise, fertilize every 6 weeks during the growing season with an organic fertilizer like liquid kelp extract applied at the base of each plant.
- Keep an eye on bugs, especially spider mites or aphids.
- Harvest seed pods before they open to distribute seeds throughout the garden.
- Watch closely for young milkweed shoots from self-seeding plants by harvesting these before flowers appear and move these new shoots into individual pots or containers outdoors until frost occurs – then transfer these into a potting soil mixture indoors under grow lights after the last frost date has passed to overwinter indoors through winter and then return outdoors in early spring for continued growth outside again until summer arrives – or transplant inside after first frost date passes as well where these can be transplanted directly into gardens again next year (or stored over winter).
- Cut back dead foliage to encourage more prolific blooming.
- Don’t forget: You’ll need some space between plants for air circulation.
- Flowering starts when temperatures reach 65 degrees F and peaks at 75 degrees F.
- Pests include leaf miners, grasshoppers, slugs, cutworms, and stinkbugs (who really stink!).
Place them in a location that is both sunny and not humid -Milkweeds thrive when watered twice a week. Place them on top of mulch or soil to keep the moisture from evaporating out of the pot.
Make sure they are situated near outdoor sources of water like fountains, ponds, lakes, or pools; but not under them where they will get too wet.
Watch for bug infestations, if you see large numbers of bugs it could mean your milkweed isn’t getting enough water. If this is the case provide more watering and ensure that your pot has good drainage holes so excess water can leave your pot quickly after watering. The occasional pruning may also be needed depending on how much room is available in your garden. The best time to prune common milkweed plants is right before flowering starts.
Protect from slugs, snails, and animals
Invasive plants spread very quickly, so we need to be proactive to avoid milkweed taking over the world. Placing a layer of mulch over the plant will keep them safe from slugs, snails, and other animals who can eat them and kill them. A 2-inch layer of thick mulch should do the trick, if you have multiple milkweeds then use 3-inches or more.
You might also consider lining up pieces of copper or copper wire along the edge of your garden to discourage slugs from coming into contact with your plants! If you want some additional protection against snails and slugs in your garden try adding catnip—a natural pesticide that is deadly to these mollusks when it gets in their digestive system. While this method won’t work on all invasive plants (like common milkweed), it’s worth a shot to see if it works on any of yours.
Mulching doesn’t just protect the plant by acting as an invisible fence; It protects soil too! Mulching reduces moisture loss and erosion while creating an environment where beneficial microbes can thrive—all good things for both your soil and the health of your common milkweed.
Don’t fertilize during the first few years
Spread out transplants so that plants are 6-8 apart. Irrigate regularly to keep moist during droughts and dry spells, Plant an area with a variety of native plants which will attract butterflies and beneficial insects, *Water less when the plant is in the dormant phase (October-April), Add compost, manure, or other natural fertilizers, but avoid using any synthetic fertilizers since they might kill the plant. The Planting Tips:
When planting your milkweed, make sure it’s not disturbed again by foot traffic as it can’t recover well after that kind of trauma. To help it grow bigger and stronger, add some organic matter like manure or compost around the base of the plant. You should also create a space around your milkweed; about two feet wide is good! That way you’ll be able to mow the grass without hurting your precious new growth.
Add mulch to prevent weeds and keep moisture in the soil
Common milkweed is a beautiful flowering plant that looks great mixed in with other plants and adds a pop of color to your garden. One great way to cultivate common milkweed is by planting them around other flowers or places you want an infusion of color. But don’t just scatter seeds, plan ahead! You should apply at least a two-inch layer of mulch or compost around the areas you want to grow so they have all the nutrients they need, like most plants.
This will help prevent weeds from popping up and keep moisture locked into the soil while keeping bugs away. When it comes to harvesting, be sure not to pull too hard on the stem as it could kill the whole plant if it’s weak. It can take up to two weeks before seeing any signs of growth but wait until six weeks before trying again.
When you’re ready to harvest common milkweed, make sure there are no leaves below the flower heads, then use scissors or pruning shears carefully cut off lower leaf clusters without damaging stem or head blooms which will produce more nectar. The head blooms are easy to spot because they are filled with pollen inside their tiny throats (which insects love).
Keep your area free of debris
While growing common milkweed, it is best to keep your area free of debris. If you have any broken or dead plants in the vicinity, you should remove them. They will be dirty and will compete with the common milkweed for moisture and nutrients.
Next, weeding should also be done around the spot where the seedlings will grow and make sure that there is enough space for the plant to expand. And last but not least, you want to make sure that all weeds are fully submerged under water before planting your seeds to ensure a healthy plant later on down the road. With these tips, start planting some common milkweeds today! It’s an easy way to help pollinators while adding beautiful flowers to your yard.
Make sure you have enough seedlings
It is a widely distributed, tenacious perennial and most often seen as the abundant late-summer floral spire. While many know common milkweed as the preferred host plant of monarch butterflies, its habit to produce flower spikes in midsummer and prolific seeding following pollination means it is an important native plant species to include as part of any plans.
Because of these desirable traits, common milkweed can be planted both as an ornamental or encouraged within gardens or meadows to help contribute to the population’s growth. With care and consideration for appropriate garden spaces and proper propagation techniques, this showy milkweed makes for an easy-to-grow addition to any ornamental planting scheme.
Know what kind of ‘Weeds’ are nearby before planting it
Now that you know a little more about the plant you want to grow, consider the other plants in your garden. Is there anything else growing near your milkweed? If you’re trying to plant it somewhere where it’s already densely populated with other plants, then make sure to space them out so they have plenty of room to grow and thrive. You might even need to thin out some of the other plants nearby so they can get as much light as possible.
Do some research into milkweed propagation before you begin planting. Ask your local nursery what their techniques are when planting milkweed from seed or how best to take cuttings from existing milkweed plants. All good questions! Remember that milkweed is an annual plant, which means it will die off after one season. Plan accordingly by not planting too many of these plants in the same area – think about moving the ones around from year to year.
Also, be aware that if you do live next door to an open field filled with milkweeds, don’t collect any for transplanting elsewhere! The types found outside often contain noxious chemicals which may leach onto your soil or contaminate nearby water sources; this includes any seeds taken from such plants as well.
Keep it on your property!
Start by taking a look around your home. If you have a backyard, garden, or even windowsill that could host some common milkweed plants, then there’s no better time than now to begin expanding these habitats. Milkweeds are beautiful native plants that are very hardy and require very little maintenance once they’re established. The entire process of getting this plant to flower can take up to three months which means the sooner you start tending to it the better.
On your search for a patch of land suitable enough for common milkweed, try looking at old abandoned pastures and woodlands with plenty of sunlight access. If there is not any available land on or near your property that meets this requirement, there may be potential landlords willing to rent out their land for you.
You can also contact local conservation groups or zoos that might have patches of unused land. Lastly, while rare, there are vendors online who sell common milkweed seeds that may be worth considering if the other options don’t work out.
In addition to finding an appropriate location for your new plants, make sure to check beforehand about any local ordinances against planting invasive species like common milkweed.
It is also recommended to purchase from sources that provide native seeds as opposed to non-native ones as this will guarantee what type of seedlings you get as well as where they come from. Non-native varieties often contain pathogens and parasites associated with them which could harm other non-targeted organisms nearby.
Growing milkweed is not a simple process. From the best planting time to what it should look like when grown, there are many factors to keep in mind. It’s helpful to know how common milkweed should grow so you know what constitutes healthy plants and blossoms. With the right care, common milkweed can be a beautiful addition to any garden.
Hi I’m Bilal Malik, a digital marketing and blogging expert holding years of experience.