General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Herb/Forb
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Water Preferences: Wet Mesic
Dry Mesic
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 3 -40 °C (-40 °F) to -37.2 °C (-35)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 9b
Plant Height: 24 - 48 inches
Plant Spread: 12 - 18 inches
Fruit: Showy
Flowers: Showy
Flower Color: Pink
Bloom Size: Under 1"
Flower Time: Late spring or early summer
Underground structures: Rhizome
Uses: Vegetable
Will Naturalize
Edible Parts: Stem
Eating Methods: Cooked
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Resistances: Deer Resistant
Rabbit Resistant
Humidity tolerant
Drought tolerant
Toxicity: Leaves are poisonous
Roots are poisonous
Propagation: Seeds: Provide light
Stratify seeds: 1 month cold moist treatment
Suitable for wintersowing
Sow in situ
Propagation: Other methods: Division
Pollinators: Wasps
Moths and Butterflies
Containers: Not suitable for containers

Common names
  • Common Milkweed
  • Milkweed
  • Common Silkweed
  • Silk Grass
  • Silky Swallow Wort
  • Virginian Silk
  • Seidenp Flanze
  • Algodoncilla
Botanical names
  • Accepted: Asclepias syriaca
  • Synonym: Asclepias kansana

This plant is tagged in:
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  • Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania - Zone 6b) on Mar 4, 2018 6:57 PM concerning plant:
    The Common Milkweed is one of the native plants that does well in our meadows of eastern North America that have become more European in species composition than American after disturbance and settlement. It is a very common plant with a native range from New Brunswick to Saskatchewan down into Georgia over into Kansas. It is the principle milkweed species used by the Monarch Butterfly for the development of its caterpillars. It is sold by native plant nurseries for that purpose. I planted several that I bought from a native plant nursery here in southeast Pennsylvania about 3 years ago into a butterfly garden. They have done very well and so far have attracted adult Monarchs for pollination; I haven't found caterpillars yet. The plant does self-sow a lot and a number of other plants have come up in other parts of the garden. It develops a big taproot and is very hard to transplant. I've had to take some out. It is a big, strong, reliable perennial that needs some management.
  • Posted by Weedwhacker (Ford River Twp, Michigan UP - Zone 4b) on Feb 28, 2015 11:58 PM concerning plant:
    A little aggressive in a cultivated area (I transplanted a few milkweed plants from the woods edge to my perennial garden), but easy to pull out if there are too many and well worth the trouble for the benefit to butterflies and bees. Milkweed is the sole host plant for Monarch butterflies, as well as Milkweed Tussock Moths, and crucial to their survival. The flowers are also fragrant, and the pods can add interest to dried flower arrangements. Many types of insects visit the flowers for the nectar.
  • Posted by Catmint20906 (PNW WA half hour south of Olympia - Zone 8a) on Aug 22, 2014 7:50 PM concerning plant:
    Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is a larval host plant for the Monarch butterfly. It is a key Monarch Way Station plant, and an excellent source of nectar for late season butterflies and moths. Common Milkweed also has special value to native, bumble, and honey bees, and supports conservation biological control by attracting beneficial insects to the garden.

    Common Milkweed does well in medium to dry soils in full sun. Remove the seed pods before they split open in order to reduce self-seeding.
  • Posted by Cyclaminist (Minneapolis, Minnesota - Zone 5a) on May 5, 2016 11:39 PM concerning plant:
    Very aggressive. Sends out underground runners (rhizomes), often several feet long, that start new stems. If you simply pull up the stems, the plant will often sprout several new stems from a buried portion of the stem (if you didn't manage to cut all of it off down to the rhizome), or, more slowly, from the rhizome. Stems often come up in lawns, between cracks in a paved walkway, or other inconvenient places. You can sometimes see where a buried rhizome is by the line of stems that it sends up. I haven't had much luck digging up rhizomes. They tend to be several inches deep, and they're pretty easy to snap off, preventing you from pulling up the whole length of them.

    It's admirable to plant food for monarchs, but it's better to choose species that stay in a clump, like swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa), poke milkweed (Asclepias exaltata), tall green milkweed (Asclepias hirtella), or spider milkweed (Asclepias viridis). I'm pretty sure all these are clump-forming, and each of them has flower colors, sizes, and soil moisture and sun preferences.

    Other rhizomatous milkweeds include showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa), purple milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens), Sullivant's milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii), and whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata). Some of these may spread a little slower than common milkweed. I think the first three are also wonderfully fragrant like common milkweed, but I have yet to try them. Whorled milkweed is much shorter and slenderer, and the flowers are so fascinatingly intricate that I love it even though it spreads.
  • Posted by robertduval14 (Milford, New Hampshire - Zone 5b) on Mar 11, 2013 9:21 PM concerning plant:
    A host plant for Monarch Butterflies. Adult butterflies will lay their eggs on the underside of leaves and the caterpillars, once hatched, will happily consume the leaves of the plant until they reach a large enough size to pupate.
  • Posted by Cyclaminist (Minneapolis, Minnesota - Zone 5a) on May 20, 2016 9:49 AM concerning plant:
    Most of the plant is bitter and poisonous, but according to several sites, the young shoots are edible. I've eaten them fresh several times, and they tasted good, not bitter at all. But it's generally recommended that they be boiled before you eat them. I might have poisoned myself, though I didn't notice any ill effects. But anyway, eating the young shoots is one way to control the plant if you've got it sprouting in inconvenient places.
  • Posted by Skiekitty (Denver Metro - Zone 5a) on Apr 14, 2014 8:51 AM concerning plant:
    This is a massive weed in my area. Although the seed pods look really cool, they make a big mess when they "explode." Have never seen butterflies visit it.
  • Posted by variegatagal (Denton County, TX - Zone 8a) on Apr 26, 2022 10:21 AM concerning plant:
    Invasive! Spreads via rhizomes and has escaped the confines of a flower bed and began sprouting in decomposed granite paths surround the bed. No hope of pulling the whole forest out as the shoots snap off easily from the roots. Sadly I've never seen mine flower in the 3 years I've been growing it (starts from seed easily). The only plus I've experienced is that I've grown tomatoes right next to them and the milkweed kept entire colonies of aphids off neighboring plants.
  • Posted by Chillybean (Iowa - Zone 5a) on Oct 30, 2015 6:27 PM concerning plant:
    This milkweed does not seem to be a favorite for some people, but I find the flowers as interesting as any other milkweed. We've had some growing in our pasture ever since we stopped mowing it, but I also find some closer to the house. An interesting location is under what I believe is a Scots pine. It's been there the last two years, but it still has not bloomed. It still provides food for the insects, so I am not overly concerned.

    Because I was discouraged by earlier failed attempts to grow other types of Milkweed, I ordered several plugs of the Common Milkweed to put near the house. I placed some in full sun and others in part shade. Then, after I got these, my other milkweeds thrived.

    Because of its toxicity, mammals will avoid eating this plant. The only aphid I have seen on the Common (or any other) Milkweed is the Oleander Aphid. This is not a native species. It was accidentally introduced with a shipment of the Oleander shrubs from the Mediterranean area.
Plant Events from our members
dave On March 16, 2017 Seeds sown
dave On January 29, 2017 Maintenance performed
Placed in moist paper towel in a ziplock bag and placed in the fridge.
MrsBinWY On January 20, 2019 Seeds sown
WS 16 seeds from kytnbabe's 2017G in milk jug (gave the seedlings to Joyce)
paleohunter On June 19, 2022 Potted up
paleohunter On April 10, 2022 Seeds sown
paleohunter On May 5, 2021 Transplanted
paleohunter On March 13, 2021 Seeds sown
dnrevel On November 1, 2022 Harvested
Harvesting seed pods for seed exchange
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