by Connie Oswald Stofko
Consider adding common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) to that mix.
Not only is it a plant that monarchs love, it gets a pretty flower– and it’s fragrant!
Another thing I like about common milkweed is that it gets a few feet tall, and every garden should have some tall or tallish plants.
Oh, and it gets those cool pods in late summer!
Gardeners seem to be hesitant about this plant. Maybe it’s the name. Nobody wants a “weed” in their garden, and fancy is better than common. Would common milkweed spark more interest if it was called “dazzling butterfly castle” or something more inspirational?
Except for the name, the drawbacks to common milkweed are miniscule.
Murak found that his common milkweed plants tended to sag. He remedied that by simply attaching a string to his fence to support the plants. Murak started his plants from seeds he got from a neighbor and has many plants in a neat group along a fence.
Connie Krueger of Amherst, who shares her landscape on Open Gardens, has common milkweed that started as a volunteer. She acknowledges that it does spread. Krueger lets it grow where it wants, but if you get more than you want, you can pull out the extras.
How to get common milkweed seeds
If you haven’t been lucky enough to have common milkweed show up in your garden and you don’t have a neighbor with seeds, there are other ways to get seeds.
Look for plants growing along the road. You may find common milkweed in parks, too, but get permission before collecting seeds from parks or private property.
Check out seed libraries and seed or plant exchanges. I don’t know whether any of these have common milkweed seeds available now, but perhaps someone will donate some soon.
Seed Savers Exchange also has Asclepias syriaca seeds.
How to plant common milkweed seeds
Common milkweed has to go through a period of cold. There are several ways to make that happen. Find information on how to plant common milkweed seeds outdoors in autumn and winter. You can also start the seeds indoors in spring.