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Red Milkweed

Asclepias rubra

 

Asclepias rubra (Red Milkweed) flowering in a Jones County ditch

Red Milkweed is a distinctive native perennial, forming a clump to 1 ft. wide. In mid spring 1 to 4 stems break through the soil, and quickly grow 2 to 3 ft. tall. Lavender-pink flowers bloom for several weeks in late spring. Hardy from zones 7 through 9.

 

How to grow

Plant Red Milkweed in sun to part shade, and wet to moist soil. In heavier soils, plants can tolerant periodic drought, but they will not grow well in sandy, dry soil. Plants are often late coming up in the spring, sometimes not emerging until mid May in southeast North Carolina.

 

Where to plant

Red Milkweed is a perfect companion to plant in pitcher plant bogs with slow growing carnivorous plants.  

 

Wildlife attracted

Red Milkweed is a larval host plant for the monarch, queen, and milkweed tussock caterpillars, and many pollinators, including butterflies and hummingbirds, are attracted to the flowers.

 

Where found in the wild

In the coastal plain, Asclepias rubra occurs in wet pine savannas, sandhill seeps, and the edges of pocosins (evergreen shrub bogs), from Long Island south into Florida. It is uncommon in southeastern North Carolina.

 

Source and origin

Plants grown from seeds collected on the edge of a pocosin in Jones County, North Carolina.

 

Comments

The common name Red Milkweed is not very accurate, as the flowers are more lavender-pink than red in color.

 

Propagation

Seeds sown in the fall, germinate in spring.