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 get about a 30% germination rate. Plant them 1/8″ deep and at room temperature they will take about 2-6 weeks to come up (or plant stratified seeds outside after last frost). 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!