Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Swamp Milkweed, Rose Milkweed, Red Milkweed, Swamp Silkweed, White Indian Hemp
Asclepias incarnata

Family: Apocynaceae (a-pos-ih-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Asclepias (ass-KLE-pee-us) (Info)
Species: incarnata (in-kar-NAH-tuh) (Info)

Synonym:Asclepias incarnata subsp. incarnata

24 vendors have this plant for sale.

82 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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There are a total of 47 photos.
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18 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Rickwebb On Feb 8, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

I've seen it in two moist meadows at land preserves in southeast Pennsylvania that have been restored to being of native flora. I've also seen it planted in a few gardens where it makes a great upright perennial that is sometimes sold at a good number of garden centers. There is a white blooming form I've seen in a garden.

Positive Chillybean On Jun 15, 2013, Chillybean from Near Central, IA (Zone 5a) wrote:

We bought some plugs last spring, along with a couple of other natives. They were decimated by Oleander Aphids last year, but have bounced back quite nicely this spring. Even with last year's drought. The other natives did not fair quite so well; there's no sign of them.

Positive patti525 On Sep 5, 2011, patti525 from Westwood, NJ wrote:

We just added some of these to our sunny garden in Westwood, NJ, (bought them on eBay in July because I couldn't find a local nursery that sells them) and it's Labor Day weekend, and we already have a Monarch caterpillar; this seems late in the season to me, but we certainly are enjoying our good luck! Also have some beautiful pink blooms.

Positive mom4monarchs On Sep 5, 2011, mom4monarchs from Dover, DE wrote:

I have found swamp milkweed to be the easiest to grow of the milkweed varieties I've tried. The monarchs love it (and they desperately need our help). The only problem is that by August the leaves turn yellow and then drop on some plants. (Any advice would be appreciated). One tip for propagation is to cut off a stem, remove the leaves, cut it into 6 inch pieces and and put the pieces into pots. New leaves will appear within a few weeks - much faster than seeds.

Positive pirateradio On Feb 21, 2011, pirateradio from Waynesboro, PA wrote:

Swamp milkweed is native to my property. Last year, I collected seeds & this year, I've started seedlings inside to bolster the yard against some of the nasty invasives (Canada thistle, exotic honeysuckles, etc.) that also are growing here.

Positive abbyschult On Apr 27, 2010, abbyschult from Saint Louis, MO wrote:

Question. I planted this last year and it did well. I am waiting for it to come up again and so far, nothing. it's 4/28/10. shouldn't something be appearing in the grass?

Positive tcs1366 On Nov 4, 2009, tcs1366 from Leesburg, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Surprisingly -- these have grown for me in dry conditions. They are in a flower bed that I do not water, only when it rains -- and they seem to do just fine.

Positive Q734 On Oct 14, 2009, Q734 from Allen Park, MI wrote:

This plant returns every year. I clip pods while green to control spread or use the sprouts to rear monarchs in pots. It gets about 3 feet high and at least as wide.

Positive SusanLouise On Aug 14, 2009, SusanLouise from Lincoln, NE (Zone 5b) wrote:

Our milkweed reached a height of over 5'. One of the 2 pics I submitted shows it's height and width of just 2 plants that are just 2 years old...incredable!!!
Since I don't need anymore milkweed of this variety, I do harvest all the pods before they open since I don't want them to multiply in our garden/yard. This is one plant, due to it's size, that I don't want it to self sow...even accidentally!

Positive kittysue On Jul 28, 2009, kittysue from Fairborn, OH wrote:

I seeded these in my heavy clay soil. They wilt easily when not regularly watered. I water these daily now, unless there is a downpour, I even water when it rains. They bloom all year long.

Positive grik On Jul 8, 2008, grik from Saint Paul, MN wrote:

A beautiful milkweed with an intoxicating vanilla scent. Don't let the name fool you. It may in fact like growing in swamps for all I know, but it is very drought tolerant in my garden.

Positive frostweed On Nov 30, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Swamp Milkweed Asclepias incarnata is native to Texas and other States.

Positive Breezymeadow On Jan 17, 2006, Breezymeadow from Culpeper, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

This plant is native to at least the Piedmont area of Virginia, & I am lucky to have a couple of clumps growing wild in a couple of semi-shady spots on my property. Since they are growing in areas that do get mowed at least once a year, when my perennial gardens are finally established, I will probably relocate these lovely clumps to safety.

The pink flower clusters are pretty, with a subtle sweet fragrance. As others have stated, they're very attractive to butterflies.

Neutral Gabrielle On Jan 16, 2006, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

Swamp Milkweed blooms are very pretty, but it is extremely susceptible to aphids. I plant mine in the back of my yard where it is there for butterflies, but the aphid-attacked plants won't be in full view.

I have read that it is hardy in zones 3-9.

Blooms June-August in my garden.

Positive CaptMicha On Feb 22, 2005, CaptMicha from Brookeville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

Swamp milkweed is a great addition to any butterfly garden.

It's well behaved and grows in a wide range of climates, despite it's name. Although, it probably grows better given care like that of it's natural conditions.

Swamp milkweed is prone to aphid infestations, though not so bad. It's also prone to milkweed bug, such as the beetle, infestations but not as much as the thicker stemmed milkweeds.

Butterflies flock to this particular milkweed because it's tall, attractively colored and the foliage is suffiently tender for larvae.

Positive ACHunter47 On Feb 11, 2005, ACHunter47 from Elmore, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:

I have grown Milkweed for two years. The Monarch caterpillars eat all of the leaves off of the plant. So, don't kill the caterpillars. My plants came back last year and bloomed again after the leaves were eaten. I had a couple of the caterpillars build their chrysalis on the side of my greenhouse. I took pictures of them at certain stages. It was very interesting and exciting to watch them develop into butterflys and fly away.

Positive SalmonMe On Oct 23, 2004, SalmonMe from Springboro, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

Worthy to note that not only do Monarchs LIKE Asclepias, but Asclepias plants are the ONLY kind of plant that the larvae/caterpillars can survive on. The caterpillars do not eat any other host plant. It helps, too, that the plants are truly lovely.

Positive suncatcheracres On Aug 31, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

I'm always happy to find a new plant for Monarchs, which are threatened in the wild. This entry gave me the interest to look this plant up in some books, and I found out it really likes wet conditions, which I have in Northcentral Florida, zone 8b, so I'll look for some seed to start plants next Spring. I'm at the bottom end of its range, but I'll try hard to find the right niche for it.

The pretty pink color should go nicely with my pink Brugmansias, and pink azaleas, and pink cannas and pink tiger lilies. Obviously I'm developing a pink bed, with a little cream and paler yellows thrown in for variety. This bed has a mixture of sun and shade, so I'll find a place for this pretty and useful plant. I read it grows three to five feet tall, so it would make a nice background plant.

One of my books said there is also a more compact white variety of swamp milkweed called 'Ice Ballet'--to three and a half feet tall. That book also noted that swamp milkweed is a native plant to the US, unlike the scarlet milkweed, A. curassavica, which is from South America--scarlet milkweed is now happily growing all over my garden this summer. However, Monarchs will come to all milkweeds, the adults for flower nectar, and to the whole plant as fodder for their caterpillars.

Monarch habitat is diminishing, so any type of milkweed that will grow in your garden should be encouraged. I've tried to grow A. tuberosa, which likes drier conditions, but wasn't very successful. I'll probably try again in a raised bed for better drainage, with lots of sun, as it is also a native US milkweed with very bright flowers. 'Gay Butterflies' is yellow and red, and 'Hello Yellow' is of course bright yellow. For Western US gardens there is a California native with subtle white and cream flowers. Apparently there are lots of different kinds of Asclepias, so there should be one suitable for just about every garden where the Monarchs fly.

Positive MossRose On Jan 16, 2003, MossRose from Albany, MO (Zone 5a) wrote:

Bloomed the first year from seed, started early in greenhouse. Thrived in drought conditions.

Neutral poppysue On Aug 12, 2001, poppysue from Westbrook, ME (Zone 5a) wrote:

This member of the milkweed family is a well-behaved garden plant. It forms a large clump and will not spread by runners like so many of its cousins. The flowers clusters are 2-4 inches across and have a nice fragrance. It prefers full sun and loves wet soils but it will also grow well in average garden soil.

It's a wonderful addition to a butterfly garden. The adults sip nector from the flowers and monarch butterflies use it as a host plant. The female will lay her eggs on the plant and the young caterpillars feed on the foliage.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Elmore, Alabama
North Little Rock, Arkansas
Kiowa, Colorado
Littleton, Colorado
Dover, Delaware
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Gibsonton, Florida
Loxahatchee, Florida
Lutz, Florida
Saint Cloud, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Demorest, Georgia
Marietta, Georgia
Anna, Illinois
Cherry Valley, Illinois
Crystal Lake, Illinois
Divernon, Illinois
Edwardsville, Illinois
Itasca, Illinois
La Grange Park, Illinois
Machesney Park, Illinois
Mount Prospect, Illinois
Springfield, Illinois
Thomasboro, Illinois
Greenville, Indiana
Indianapolis, Indiana
Washington, Indiana
Ames, Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa
Yale, Iowa
Brookville, Kansas
Derby, Kansas
Hiawatha, Kansas
Barbourville, Kentucky
Prospect, Kentucky
Slidell, Louisiana
Brookeville, Maryland
Dundalk, Maryland
Springfield, Massachusetts
Allen Park, Michigan
Barton City, Michigan
Dearborn Heights, Michigan
East Tawas, Michigan
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Kasota, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota (2 reports)
Onamia, Minnesota
Pequot Lakes, Minnesota
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Young America, Minnesota
Saint Louis, Missouri
Helena, Montana
Beatrice, Nebraska
Lincoln, Nebraska
Frenchtown, New Jersey
Jersey City, New Jersey
Morristown, New Jersey
Mount Laurel, New Jersey
Westwood, New Jersey
Elephant Butte, New Mexico
Blossvale, New York
Ogdensburg, New York
Charlotte, North Carolina
Hays, North Carolina
Tobaccoville, North Carolina
Fargo, North Dakota
Bowling Green, Ohio
Columbus, Ohio
Dayton, Ohio (2 reports)
Fairborn, Ohio
Findlay, Ohio
Fort Jennings, Ohio
Glouster, Ohio
Napoleon, Ohio
Oak Harbor, Ohio
Saint Marys, Ohio
Springboro, Ohio
Portland, Oregon
Malvern, Pennsylvania
Milford, Pennsylvania
Norristown, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Waynesboro, Pennsylvania
West Chester, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Conway, South Carolina
Parker, South Dakota
Viola, Tennessee
Belton, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Los Fresnos, Texas
Salt Lake City, Utah
Arlington, Virginia
Leesburg, Virginia
Manassas, Virginia
Mc Lean, Virginia
Newport News, Virginia
Sterling, Virginia
Spokane, Washington
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
Cabin Creek, West Virginia
Liberty, West Virginia
De Pere, Wisconsin
Madison, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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