Indian Milkweed Plants for Monarch Butterfly Gardens
Indian Milkweed (Asclepias eriocarpa) is also known as Woolly-pod, Kotolo, and Black Oak Milkweed. It’s a California native, but is also native in parts of Nevada and other areas of the American West.
Indian Milkweed seeds produce a favorite host plant for Monarchs and their mimics, Queens and Soldiers. Many other butterflies and pollinators feed on the nectar in their flowers.
Characteristics of Asclepias eriocarpa
Woollypod milkweed, a herbaceous perennial, thrives in arid/semi-arid areas. It grows about 1-3′ tall, with a 1′ spread, in USDA zones 5-9; some references say that the range is tighter, zones 6-8. Even though it is a perennial, this milkweed will likely produce flowers in the first year. Flowers appear from May-Oct and are white-cream-pinkish and full of nectar. The flowers give way to seed pods that are large and woolly.
I love these soft, fuzzy leaves that are long, oval, rippled, and a pretty mint green color. These plants make quite an impression when grouped together in a garden.
Indian milkweed likes full sun but tolerates partial shade. It grows well with dry-medium moisture and in rocky, sandy and even clay soils. They are quite drought-tolerant. As a result, this is considered an easy milkweed in its native conditions!
Starting Indian Milkweed Seeds
This is a challenging seed for us. We have found that about 10% of the seeds will sprout with no stratification. They are slow and erratic (sprouting over the course of several weeks). With 60 days of cold stratification, we still didn’t see much improvement. We plant them 1/8″ deep, and at room temperature they will take about 2-6 weeks for some to sprout (or plant stratified seeds outside after last frost). Please let us know if you have a technique that works better with these! We are eager to learn more about them. Indian Milkweed can also be fall-planted to let the winter do the stratifying for you.
Indian Milkweed is very easy once established, pretty and a useful milkweed especially for Western United States Butterfly Gardens!