Our species of the month for March 2018 is just the thing to put the “spring” in your step as we slip into the warmer months of the year. The beautiful Sullivant’s Milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii) blooms into an adorable pink that almost begs the sun to shine on it. Not only is Sullivant’s Milkweed pleasant to look at, but it’s a favourite of pollinators as well. Butterflies absolutely love to flutter around and land on this plant, meaning they’ll start to make your garden home. Sullivant’s Milkweed is easily grown as long as the right conditions are met and is sure to add a dash of Spring flare to your garden as we welcome the changing of the seasons.
About Sullivant’s Milkweed
Sullivant’s Milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii) is easily grown in average, medium to wet soils with full sunlight. When the plant is fully grown, you can expect a spread of 0.3-0.5 m (1-1.5’) and a height of 0.6-0.9 m (2-3’). The plant may self-seed if the pods are not removed prior to splitting open. Once Sullivant’s Milkweed is established, the best practice is to leave the plants undisturbed. Because the plant develops deep taproots, transplanting becomes quite difficult.
Sullivant’s Milkweed is a perennial that shares some visible similarities to the Common Milkweed, however there are some qualities that set it apart. For one, Sulllivant’s is less aggressive than Common Milkweed. It also has completely smooth leaves as opposed to the Common Milkweed’s fuzzy ones. It’s rounded clusters of pinkish-white to pinkish-purple, star-like flowers emit a sweet fragrance, so Spring will really be in the air.
Pollinators Love It!
As we mentioned earlier, Sullivant’s Milkweed is also a great way to attract pollinators to your garden, specifically butterflies. If you want to give your garden that extra little bit of magic, then start by planting some Sullivant’s Milkweed. The flowers on the plant are a nectar source for butterflies who will choose to lay their eggs nearby. In turn, the Milkweed is an excellent home for our fluttering friends’ larvae who will eventually turn into – you guessed it – more butterflies who’ll choose to stay near a known food source. In fact, planting Sullivant’s Milkweed is a great way to do your part in conserving the Monarch population in Ontario. Additionally, and of equal importance, Sullivant’s Milkweed has also been known to attract honeybees who are looking for a place to rest and eat peacefully.
Pair it Up
Since Sullivant’s Milkweed is a lower growing plant that can be commonly found in prairie areas, it’s also often referred to as the Prairie Milkweed. It pairs rather nicely with grasses, such as: Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), Canada Wild Rye (Elymus canadensis), or Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans). If you’ve already got one (or a few) of these grasses in your garden, then Sullivant’s Milkweed will look great alongside it. If not, consider picking some up to compliment the milkweed.
When we’re this close, it’s hard not to get excited about Spring, and what better way to get excited than to plan your garden out with beautiful, light coloured plants like this one? We’ve got more to come on Sullivant’s Milkweed this month, so look out for our ‘Fast Facts’, ‘Did You Know?’, and Species Profile video in the coming weeks!