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Asclepias curassavica (Tropical Milkweed)

Tropical Milkweed, Bloodflower, Blood Flower, Cotton Bush, Hierba de la Cucaracha, Mexican Butterfly Weed, Redhead, Scarlet Milkweed, Wild Ipecacuanha

Asclepias curassavica, Tropical Milkweed, Bloodflower, Blood Flower,[ Cotton Bush, Hierba de la Cucaracha, Mexican Butterfly Weed, Redhead, Scarlet Milkweed, Wild Ipecacuanha, Red flowers, Yellow flowers
Asclepias curassavica, Tropical Milkweed, Bloodflower, Blood Flower,[ Cotton Bush, Hierba de la Cucaracha, Mexican Butterfly Weed, Redhead, Scarlet Milkweed, Wild Ipecacuanha, Red flowers, Yellow flowers

Noted for its very long blooming season, Asclepias curassavica (Tropical Milkweed) is an upright evergreen sub-shrub boasting eye-catching clusters of orange-red flowers adorned with yellow hoods from early summer to fall. Flowers are a great source of nectar for butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, and other beneficial insects. The blooms occur on upright stems clad with lance-shaped, fresh green leaves. They give way to long, narrow seed pods in the fall. When the seed pods open, they reveal seeds with long, 3-4 in. (6-10 cm), silvery-white, silky hairs. A great choice for the flower garden and for natural settings.

Milkweed plants are critical to monarch butterflies’ survival, whose population in North America has plummeted by 90% in the last 20 years. However, according to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, Tropical Milkweed does more harm than good when planted in temperate areas where it does not die back in winter. A protozoan parasite of monarch butterflies, Ophryocystis elektroscirrha, can travel with monarchs visiting the plants and become deposited on leaves. When caterpillars hatch and start eating the plant, they ingest the OE. This results in lower migration success in the eastern monarch population, as well as reductions in body mass, lifespan, mating success, and flight ability. When Tropical Milkweed dies back after blooming, the parasite dies along with it so that each summer’s monarch population feeds on fresh, parasite-free foliage. 

  • Grows up to 2-3 ft. tall (60-90 cm) and 18-24 in. wide (45-60 cm). Self-seeds profusely in warm winter areas.
  • Thrives in full sun and is quite tolerant of different soil types, growing well in dry, moist, and wet soils.
  • Low maintenance, this perennial plant is generally pest and disease free. Deer resistant.
  • Perfect for sunny borders, cottage gardens, butterfly gardens, and prairies or naturalized areas. Great for containers or as an indoor plant too!
  • Propagate by seed, division, or basal cuttings.
  • All parts, particularly the roots, may cause mild stomach upset if ingested. Plants can be poisonous to livestock.
  • Toxic to dogs, toxic to cats, toxic to horses.
  • Native to South America

Grow Milkweed, Save Monarch Butterflies: A Step-by-Step Guide


By providing the right growing conditions, you can enjoy healthy and vibrant milkweed in your garden while supporting pollinator populations.

Requirements

Hardiness 9 - 11
Heat Zones 6 - 11
Climate Zones 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, H1, H2
Plant Type Shrubs
Plant Family Apocynaceae
Genus Asclepias
Common names Tropical Milkweed, Milkweed
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 2' - 3'
(60cm - 90cm)
Spread 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Spacing 18" - 24"
(50cm - 60cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low, Average, High
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen
Tolerance Deer, Dry Soil, Wet Soil
Attracts Bees, Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Garden Uses Beds And Borders, Patio And Containers
Garden Styles Prairie and Meadow, Informal and Cottage
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Asclepias eriocarpa (Woollypod Milkweed)
Asclepias subulata (Rush Milkweed)
Asclepias perennis (Aquatic Milkweed)
Asclepias cordifolia (Heartleaf Milkweed)
Asclepias linaria (Pine-Needle Milkweed)
Asclepias quadrifolia (Fourleaf Milkweed)

Recommended Companion Plants

Crocosmia (Montbretia)
Anthemis tinctoria (Golden Marguerite)
Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker)
Agapanthus (African Lily)

Find In One of Our Guides or Gardens

How to Create an Enchanting Butterfly Garden
For the Love of Butterflies: Best Flowers to Attract them to Your Garden
6 Reasons You Should Create a Butterfly Garden
Grow Milkweed, Save Monarch Butterflies: A Step-by-Step Guide
Asclepias (Milkweed)
Save Monarch Butterflies with these Ornamental Milweeds
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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Requirements

Hardiness 9 - 11
Heat Zones 6 - 11
Climate Zones 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, H1, H2
Plant Type Shrubs
Plant Family Apocynaceae
Genus Asclepias
Common names Tropical Milkweed, Milkweed
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 2' - 3'
(60cm - 90cm)
Spread 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Spacing 18" - 24"
(50cm - 60cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low, Average, High
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen
Tolerance Deer, Dry Soil, Wet Soil
Attracts Bees, Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Garden Uses Beds And Borders, Patio And Containers
Garden Styles Prairie and Meadow, Informal and Cottage
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Asclepias (Milkweed)
Not sure which Asclepias (Milkweed) to pick?
Compare Now

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