Milkmaid Swamp Milkweed
Beautify your garden and save the monarchs at the same time! Milkmaid Swamp Milkweed is a sensational Spirit with intricate snow-white summer blossoms. The cool white blooms stand out from the rich green foliage and go with any color scheme you might have in your garden. Passing butterflies of all types see the flowers and think, “Lunch!” and will stop for some nectar. Monarch butterflies see this plant as food for their young, and females may stop to lay eggs. Plant some extra for them. They need all the help they can get right now.
Swamp Milkweed grows wild all over the eastern U.S., from the Atlantic Coast to the Rocky Mountain States. It does indeed grow in swampy areas (“wetlands” has a nicer ring to it), although it’s perfectly happy in a typical garden situation with supplemental water during dry spells. Usually sporting rosy pink flowers, Milkmaid was selected for its pure white blossoms. Although Milkweed grows all over the country, much of it has been destroyed in recent years for development, and monarch populations have dwindled as a result. You really can make a difference by including this essential monarch host plant in your garden.
Monarch caterpillars look nothing like the familiar orange and black adults. Caterpillars are striped with yellow, black, and white. If you decide to cut some Milkmaid Swamp Milkweed flowers for a bouquet (which is not a bad idea), check the leaves carefully for baby monarchs!
How to Grow
Grow Milkmaid Swamp Milkweed in full sun for best results and irrigate regularly. Do not let it dry out. Plants will be tall and lush in wet soil, a bit shorter and more compact in average conditions. One problem that may affect Milkmaid is aphids feeding on the new growth. Simply knock them off with a jet of water from the hose. Do not use pesticides on or near this monarch butterfly host plant! Cut plants back in late fall or any time before new growth appears in the spring. Swamp Milkweed is late to emerge, and it’s a good idea to mark its location before it goes dormant for the winter, so you remember where it is.
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