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Conditions Comments: With its showy flower clusters that attract butterflies and hummingbirds, swamp milkweed is underutilized in gardens. In moist soils or in a pond, it will thrive. The interesting seed pods look like other milkweeds. Swamp milkweed will inevitably have aphids. The insects are not a problem unless the plant looks sick; at that point an effective treatment is to spray the plant and aphids with soapy water. Another possible treatment is to support the plant part with your hand and blast it with high-pressure water. Good for wetland gardens and habitat.
Use Food: Although milkweeds are poisonous raw, the young shoots, leaves and seed pods are all edible cooked. When placed in cold water, brought to a boil and simmered till tender, milkweeds are said to be delicately flavoured and harmless. (Poisonous Plants of N.C. State) The flower buds, nectar-sweet flowers and seeds are also edible. (Kershaw) The Milkweed plant is the sole host plant for Monarch butterflies. Although Monarchs have preferences of some varieties over others, there are many different species of milkweed plants that Monarch caterpillars will gladly gobble up. This article will present some of the best milkweeds for Monarchs, native ranges, and general information for several species.
Tropical milkweed probably wins the contest for the Monarchs favorite milkweed in most gardens. It is actually not native to the US but has naturalized in zones 9-11 (possibly 8b as well) where it grows as a perennial. However, this plant grows fast and easy from seed and readily flowers all summer so is used as an annual all over the US and Canada. There are two different species of milkweed that have the common name of “Purple Milkweed”; Asclepias purpurascens and Asclepias cordifolia. Asclepias cordifolia also has the common name of Heart-leaf milkweed. Heart-leaf milkweed is native to California, Nevada, and Oregon while Asclepias purpurascens is native to central and eastern US and Eastern Canada. (Source: www.joyfulbutterfly.com)