Western Sand Milkweed (Asclepias arenaria) Quick Facts:
Host plant for Monarch butterflies, nectar for many
Native to the southwest US
Hardy in USDA zones 4-11
Prefers full sun
Sandy soil, drought tolerant
Pale green flowers bloom in summer
Up to 3 feet tall
Space 1-2 feet apart
Western Sand Milkweed Plants: Special Plants for Special Conditions
What milkweed is perfect for excessively sandy soil? As you can tell by the name, Western Sand Milkweed loves sandy soil and is suitable for xeriscaping. It is drought tolerant and loves full sun. Even though deer shun this milkweed, Monarch butterflies do not! The Western Sand Milkweed is a host plant for the Monarch caterpillar and supplies nectar to butterflies and other pollinators. Planting milkweed is the best way to support Monarchs in both the larval and adult stages.
Although Western Sand Milkweed is considered hardy in zones 4-11, it is actually extremely rare and is native in just 8 states of the American Southwest–Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, South Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska. Standing an average of 3 feet tall, the Sand Milkweed will mature into attractive rounded clumps with a spread of about one foot.
Both the stems and leaves are extremely hairy, and chartreuse flowers that may be tinged with pink nestle close to intersections of stems and leaves. The Sand Milkweed is a midsummer bloomer, providing its nectar to butterflies and pollinators for weeks in June, July, and August. And those hairy leaves provide food for the hungry, hungry Monarch caterpillars!
Western Sand Milkweed plants are hard to find for sale, but we have them here at Joyful Butterfly! The vigorous taproot gives the plant the ability to thrive in arid conditions. This tough taproot performs best when you plant it as soon as possible in its ultimate outdoor location and allow it to grow undisturbed.
Asclepias arenaria will multiply by reseeding, and it’s suggested to allow at least a few volunteer seedlings that spring up to grow for a bit–monarchs have been observed to sometimes deposit eggs on seedlings in addition to more mature plants.
If You’ve Got the Sand, We’ve Got the Plant!
The rarity of the Sand Milkweed means there is a large contingent of butterfly fans who’d love for you to share your observations about this plant. We’re all interested in this relatively mysterious milkweed!