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Milkweed has quickly become one of the most popular plants to grow in our gardens. Apart from being a very easy plant to care for, it is also a host plant of monarch butterflies. And, who wouldn’t want a garden or patio filled with butterflies?
History of Milkweed
The milkweed plant, scientifically called asclepias, is native to North America, where it was used as food and medicine. When cooked, the milkweed leaves resemble spinach or kale, and its flowers were harvested and steamed like broccoli.
Keep in mind if you were to try this at home, the milkweed can cause mild toxicity if ingested raw and do not rub your eyes when handling milkweed as the sap can cause irritation. On the positive side it’s high in Vitamin C and Beta Carotene.
Flower Meaning & Symbolism
Milkweeds symbolise remembrance, dignity, and freedom, which is a lovely message to have planted in your garden. The genus name comes from the Greek god of medicine, Asclepius, because of the plants medicinal properties.
Shape & colour
Each individual flower on the milkweed has five-parted sepals and five-parted petals. The corona usually has five upright hoods, which are brightly coloured.
The milkweed plant has gorgeous sprays of fragrant flowers in colours that range from white, red, purple, and green.
There are three main types of milkweed plants that are great choices to plant in your garden. Common milkweed, Swamp milkweed and Butterfly weed.
The best place to plant milkweed is in a spot with full sun as they need at least 6 to 8 hours of sun per day. They’re also self-seeded so best to plant them in a place that’s protected from the wind which will help prevent them spreading too quickly.
Most milkweed can grow in all types of soil except for the Swamp milkweed, that requires moist, humus-rich soil. The best time to plant milkweed from seeds is in the autumn, however if you have purchased starter plants, then plant them in the spring when the cold and frost have passed.
Milkweed need little to no looking after and most species aren’t bothered by pests, heat or drought. Even fertilization isn’t needed. However, removing withered flowers can result in new buds.
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