(Silky Red Bloodflower) Vivid red and gold clusters of tiny, star-shaped flowers contrast handsomely with the dark green, lance-shaped leaves of this milkweed. The endangered Monarch butterfly is drawn to milkweeds including Asclepias curassavica 'Silky Red' for nectar and as a host plant for its eggs. Milkweeds are the only plants their caterpillars will eat. Consuming powerful chemicals in the leaves protects them as babies and adults against predators for whom the chemicals are toxic.
Silky Red -- also commonly known as Tropical Milkweed and Mexican Butterfly Weed -- is native to South America and a perennial in USDA zones where winter is warm. Due to loving moisture, it is a good solution for sunny, damp areas of your yard. However, this milkweed grows well with average watering based on local conditions. In zones with colder winters, it is an attractive annual for containers and can be cut back in late autumn to overwinter indoors. Just reduce watering, and place it in a cool yet sunny location.
Unlike Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), this species doesn't have a taproot. So, it's easier to control the plant's spread. Much has been written about the problems as well as the benefits Tropical Milkweeds present for Monarchs. Where these plants persist outdoors during winter, Monarchs may not complete their migration to Mexico. Prolonged growth and flowering creates difficulties including the spread of a protozoan parasite that harms Monarchs. To avoid this problem in warm regions, cut all types of Tropical Milkweed to the ground during early autumn and winter.
Please note: This is a seed-grown strain and may vary in flower color from plant to plant.