Common Name: common milkweed
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Native Range: Eastern North America
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to August
Bloom Description: Pink, mauve, white
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Erosion, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil
USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , OR , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: MB , NB , NL , NS , ON , QC , SK
Efforts to increase monarch butterfly populations by establishing butterfly gardens require particular attention to the butterfly's food preferences and population cycles, as well to the conditions needed to propagate milkweed. For example, in the Washington, D.C., area and in the northeastern United States, monarchs prefer to reproduce on Asclepias syriaca, especially on young, soft leaves. Common milkweed new, tender leaves are preferred monarch oviposition sites and larval food. In the Washington, D.C., area, one can have such leaves in July, August, and early September during the main oviposition period in three ways. First, one can grow seedlings. Second, one can cut large shoots to about half their height in June and July before or after they bloom. Third, one can cut large shoots to the ground in June and July. Cut plants often produce new shoots from their rhizomes. It is advisable to let some large, mature shoots remain in summer and fall because large monarch larvae, milkweed tiger moth larvae, and other native species feed on mature leaves. Milkweed bugs commonly feed on follicles. Monarch larvae can consume small seedlings to the ground. To save seedlings, one can transfer larvae from seedlings to larger shoots.
Deforestation due to European settlement may have expanded the range and density of common milkweed. This plant can become invasive; it is naturalized in several areas outside of its native range, including Oregon and parts of Europe. However, recently[when?] in the United States, milkweed populations have diminished dramatically due to factors such as development and the use of herbicides, which has played a significant part in the monarch butterfly's dramatic population decline.
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