(Photos on this page are of the WRONG kind of milkweed. Do not buy it to plant in the Florida landscape.)
On our last trip to the Farmer’s Market at the Fairgrounds in Deland, Florida, we found some plants for the yard. I was happy to find this plant at the market. It cost me $15.00 but I was very excited to find such a wonderful, big plant to help the monarchs. What a mistake. I bought Tropical Milkweed which is becoming a problem in our state – and is pictured on this page.
Two-colored flowers (red and orange/yellow) with pointed leaves – this is the non-native Tropical Milkweed.
I want to fill my yard with food for the bees and butterflies (namely Monarchs)… BUT… this is not the right kind of milkweed for my area. When this milkweed plant began to drop its seeds, I looked for information about planting them. I’m so glad I searched for information.
This is when I realized that I have the wrong type of milkweed.
Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias Curassavica) is NOT a native Florida plant. It is native to Mexico.
Because this flowering milkweed is not native to this area it can cause problems for Monarch butterflies. I bought it without realizing that it is completely the wrong type, and it can even be harmful – to the Monarchs – to have this milkweed growing in my yard!
The orange flowering milkweed shown below is NOT a Florida native plant. As problematic as it is, it should not be sold in the state. Maybe this is why I could not find it in Home Depot. I’d like to think that stores and shops will begin to sell native types only one day.
Native Type – Buy This
Asclepius Tuberosa is one of Florida’s native milkweeds. This link goes to the UF site with photos of the completely orange flowering plant. And the Gardening Solutions page has a compete list of all of Florida’s native milkweed plants. A couple have links, but the point is that if you live in Florida and want to help the Monarchs, choose to grow something from this list.
You may find what you want, along with other Florida native plants, from this list of growers / nurseries on the Plant Real Florida site.
The Monarch Story – IFAS
Do Not Buy or Plant This Type of Milkweed
This orange and yellow flowering milkweed is the Asclepias curassavica and is native to Mexico. It does not drop its leaves overwinter as our native milkweed will. Because of this, the monarchs can continue to lay eggs here in Florida at a time when they should be migrating. Also, a parasite that would die off when the leaves fall, tends to stay around ready to infect new caterpillars. High levels of this parasite can cause the butterflies to be too weak to make their migration.
This information comes from the article at FNPS (Florida Native Plant Society) and please read this informative page. It explains it all much better than I can.
Someone suggested that if this type of plant is growing in your Florida yard, cut it down in winter. That way there will be no leaves and it will mimic the native type, except for the parasite problem.
Telling Native From Non-native Milkweed
All of the milkweed photos on this page (and on my blog so far) are of the tropical milkweed. It has two- colored flowers. And all yellow variety is sold in stores as well.
There is a native milkweed that looks similar but its leaves are very long and thin. The native plant with totally orange flowers has leaves that are rounded (not pointed) at the ends. See a comparison at the bottom of this page.
Feed the Caterpillars Well
It is not enough to simply provide food for the monarch caterpillars, we need to feed them the right way. I want to mimic nature as much as possible so I will not be planting this new milkweed plant in my yard.
I’ll continue to research buying milkweed plants and seeds for my area.
Find More Info About Florida’s Native Plants
- Plant Real Florida
- Gardening Solutions – University of Florida
- Florida Native Plant Society
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