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Audubon® Common Milkweed
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Common Milkweed is King when it comes to supporting butterflies. Its large leaves satisfy scores of hungry monarch caterpillars each season, and its fragrant flowers feed adult butterflies of many types. But what you may not realize is that Common Milkweed serves birds, too! It has been estimated that around 450 insect species in all feed on Common Milkweed. Insectivorous birds can surely find something there to their liking! Bug-eaters like warblers, wrens, thrushes, orioles, and vireos may stop by for a bite. In rural areas, quail and pheasants may forage among Milkweed plants.
May Benefit & Attract: Warblers, wrens, thrushes, orioles, vireos, quail, and pheasants
Take Birds Under Your Wing
New! Introducing our bird-friendly collection of Audubon® Native Plants & Trees
- Better for Birds, 100% Neonic-Free
- Not Available in non-native regions, states or counties (see Native Regions map)
Bower & Branch is proud to grow Audubon® Native Plants for Birds in partnership with the National Audubon Society to help birds and other wildlife thrive.
- The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow
- This bird-friendly native plant provides food and shelter for local and migrating birds and other wildlife
- Your purchase and planting of this native flora directly supports Audubon’s conservation mission and impact
- Learn how you can help birds in your home and community through Audubon’s Plants for Birds program
- Audubon Native Plants & Trees are free of neonicotinoids and exclusively grown by Bower & Branch
Audubon® is a licensed and registered trademark of the National Audubon Society. All rights reserved.
- Hardiness Zone: 3-9
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Milkweed was a hero in World War II. When Japan occupied the Indonesian island of Java, the Allies lost their access to tropical Kapok Trees, which provided the buoyant stuffing for life preservers. Resourceful engineers looked to the Common Milkweed and the Swamp Milkweed instead, which produce little silky floss parachutes to carry their seeds through the air. The floss served as an excellent substitute for Kapok fibers, and American schoolchildren were recruited to gather Milkweed pods for the war effort. It is estimated that 11 million pounds of Milkweed were gathered for the troops!
In fall, fat Milkweed seedpods split open to release their silky parachutes. Some birds find those soft fibers to be perfect for lining their nests. You can harvest some of the pods and store them over the winter in a dry place. Put them outside again in spring when birds are nesting, and watch them get grabbed up!
How to Grow
Native pretty much everywhere east of the Rockies in both the U.S. and Canada, Common Milkweed is adaptable and easy to grow. Plant it in full sun in any type of soil—sandy or clayey, wet or dry. Just be sure to water it well the first year while it is getting established. Common Milkweed will spread a bit, popping up here and there. Plan for this, and put it where it can roam (don’t plant it in the middle of a formal border). Cut back the spent stems in late fall or early spring, whichever you prefer.
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