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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - October 06, 2014

From: Leawood, KS
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Lists, Wildflowers
Title: Best Asclepias for Kansas City
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I have a question about the Asclepias. I live in the Midwest, in Kansas City with hardiness zone 5b or 6. I want to know which of these plants would be good for me in a cultivated garden. It's not too tidy but we have hot summers so some plants go wild. I have a lot of monarchs feeding here on all my other plants but I read that Asclepias is better for them. I wondered if you could suggest a few that the butterflies particularly like? Annuals or perennials, either will be wonderful. I would just like to know in your opinion which produces the best amount of flowers without being too promiscuous.

ANSWER:

There is a wonderful list of Asclepias (milkweed) that are native to the Midwest for you to consider on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildlfower Center Native Plant Database webpage. Just do a search for Asclepias and Kansas. As you know, milkweeds are the primary food source for Monarch and Queen butterfly caterpillars and good nectar sources for the adults.

Asclepias amplexicaulis (clasping milkweed)

Asclepias arenaria (sand milkweed)

Asclepias asperula (spider milkweed)

Asclepias engelmanniana (Engelmann's milkweed)

Asclepias hirtella (green milkweed)

Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed)

With its showy flower clusters that attract butterflies and hummingbirds, swamp milkweed is underutilized in gardens. In moist soils or in a pond, it will thrive. The interesting seed pods look like other milkweeds.  Good for wetland gardens and habitat.

Asclepias latifolia (broadleaf milkweed)

Asclepias purpurascens (purple milkweed)

For more information about which Milkweed is best for Monarchs, take a look at the MonarchWatch.org website. For their Bring Back the Monarchs campaign they have a profile of most of the Asclepias listed above.

 

From the Image Gallery


Clasping milkweed
Asclepias amplexicaulis

Clasping milkweed
Asclepias amplexicaulis

Sand milkweed
Asclepias arenaria

Antelope-horns
Asclepias asperula

Engelmann's milkweed
Asclepias engelmanniana

Swamp milkweed
Asclepias incarnata

Broadleaf milkweed
Asclepias latifolia

Purple milkweed
Asclepias purpurascens

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