While all milkweed varieties are a favorite of the butterflies, the milkweed species Asclepias speciosa, commonly known as Showy milkweed, is the favored larval host plant for our local Monarch butterfly population. Feeding on milkweed makes both the caterpillars themselves, and the butterflies they mature into, toxic to predators.
In addition to its important role as caterpillar food, the late season and long-blooming flowers provide important nectar for all sorts of pollinators – bees, butterflies, hoverflies, and hummingbirds.
Showy milkweed is native to the entire Western region of the U.S., even into Canada. When growing this beautifully fragrant native perennial, plant in a full sun location with good drainage as they can tolerate dry and poor soils.
Showy milkweed is a fairly large perennial, growing as tall as 4 feet so plant it at the back of a perennial bed. It spreads both by seed and by underground stems (rhizomes); allow plenty of room for it to spread out.