Simply The Best Natives-Swamp Milkweed


“May Your Life Be Like A Wildflower, Growing Freely In The Beauty And Joy Of Each Day.” ~Native American Blessing



Each year, I look forward to the emergence of my Swamp Milkweed.  Common Milkweed is just blooming by the time Swamp Milkweed is developing flowers.  Asclepias incarnata, as they are called, are native to the Northeastern and southeastern United States all the way west to Texas and Louisiana, and up to North Dakota as well as Eastern Canada. It will bloom in July and August, with flowers of pink and white, in Zones 3 to 8.

DSCN9112It grows in clumps unlike Common Milkweed, which has one plant and one flower growing in groups.  Swamp Milkweed can be found it wet areas like swamps, wet meadows and prairies, ditches, marshes, and along the edges of ponds, lakes and streams.  This herbaceous perennial is part of the Milkweed Family (Asclepiadaceae), and has many common names besides Swamp Milkweed……Rose Milkweed, Rose Milkflower, Swamp Silkweed, and White Indian Hemp.

The large blooms are made up of small, usually deep pink flowers, clustered at the top of the stem, which holds narrow, lance-shaped leaves.  Sometimes they will flower white naturally in my garden.  Flowers bear a subtle vanilla scent.  And the sap of Swamp Milkweed is less milky than other Milkweed species.



amandaAs I profile this wonderful native plant, I am linking in with Gail@Clay and Limestone for her Wildflower Wednesday meme, and Diana@Elephant’s Eye at False Bay for her Dozen for Diana monthly meme. And I am joining forces once again this year with a local native plant nursery, Amanda’s Garden, to buy native plants for my garden.  The owner, Ellen Folts, specializes in woodland, prairie and wetland native perennials.  Check out their Spring 2016 catalog.




Growing Conditions

This exceptional wildflower prefers sun, but will grow in some part shade.  And it tolerates well-drained soil as well as wet clay.  But it much prefers moisture retentive soil.  Once established, do not move them as they have long taproots which help the plant live in heavy wet clay.DSCN5523

Swamp milkweed usually grows 3’ to 4’ tall, and has no serious insect or disease problems.  Most milkweed may have aphids.  If aphids seem to be weakening the plant, then spraying them with a hose is the best remedy.

Foliage is slow to emerge in spring, and flowers appear in mid to late summer.  After they bloom, thin pods are produced that split open in late summer to late fall, releasing silky seeds that blow in the wind.

Swamp Milkweed grows easily from seeds sown in fall or spring.  You can also start seeds indoors.  It is best to sow seeds directly outdoors in late fall as they require cold stratification.  You can also divide plants in late spring as leaves are emerging.




Benefits to Wildlife

DSCN9114Pollinators love this plant’s nectar, especially moths, bumble bees and honey bees.  Hummingbirds and butterflies can be found visiting the flowers too.  Swallowtails, Fritillaries, Monarchs, Hairstreaks, Buckeyes and Skippers are some of the butterflies you will see frequenting this plant.

Monarchs (Danaus plexippus) and Queen butterflies (Danaus gilippus) especially depend on Swamp Milkweed for nectar, and as a food source for their hatched eggs.  The sticky sap of milkweed has toxins that provide protection for the butterflies that use this plant as a food source.





Swamp Milkweed is beautiful in the garden as it usually blooms just after the Common Milkweed.  It tolerates clay andDSCN8826 wet soil, so using it in Rain Gardens and low wet spots is perfect.  It will naturalize, but I have found it to grow slower and be less aggressive than Common Milkweed.  It is also an underutilized plant in gardens.  Best spots for it in the garden are sunny borders, stream or pond banks and in butterfly gardens.  Mine are found along the pond, and in my bog area/rain garden.
One use I never considered was as fresh-cut flowers.  It is said they last a long time in a vase.  Not to mention the seed pods make a wonderful addition to a vase.  I’ll have to try both in a vase this year.
Even though this plant is poisonous, it is edible when cooked.  But I don’t think I will try it.




Folklore and Tales 

DSCN5051The genus name, Asclepias, is derived from the name of the Greek god, ‘Asklepios’, who is the god of medicine and healing.

Asclepias incarnata has had many medicinal uses and herbal remedies associated with it in the past.  Some of these have included a cure for lung and digestion ailments.

Milkweed’s common name comes from the white sap, that resembles milk, that seeps out when the plant is cut.  

The Latin species name, incarnata, is said to mean pink flesh-colored, for the color of its bloom.

Milkweed also has other uses especially making tough cords from stems and leaves.  The Pueblo Indians used fibers from the leaves to make fishing lines and thread.





swamp milkweed collage


Do you grow Swamp Milkweed or any Milkweed?  What is your favorite plant for butterflies?





In A Vase On Monday 



My large Belleek vase was crying out for some of the peonies that have grown large and stunning in my garden lately.  I posed this vase next to our wedding portrait in an almost matching Lenox frame that was a wedding present.





These unnamed peonies were displayed with loads of Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis).





And a few large Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) leaves, offset the vase perfectly as they cradled the peonies.  The vase is a 2001 Romantic Rose Vase, from Belleek, specially made for St. Patrick’s Day in the US market.  I don’t use this vase often but when I do, I make sure it is a substantial arrangement.





This old china dish fit perfectly in my lovely basket, so I went about finding flowers to float in it.  I wanted an additional vase for the table.





floating roses

So in went the first roses from ‘William Baffin’, a pink Knockout and a lone soft pink peony that was so light in color.  I love the effect.

I am joining in with a few memes this week as I prepare these vases:  Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful meme, In a Vase on Monday, Today’s Flowers hosted by Denise@An English Girl Rambles 2016 and Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.



Next up on the blog:  

Monday brings another look at what has happened during some June nn-logomoments in my garden.

I am linking in with Michelle for her Nature Notes meme at her blog, Rambling Woods.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Monday. 

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