Tropical milkweed must be grown as an annual in Carroll County. Plants will bloom by 4 months. It is a great container plant to place on decks, in hanging planters or in patio gardens to observe the many butterflies and nectar feeding insects that will visit the orange, red, and sometimes yellow flowers. Tropical milkweed will not live through our winters and dies with the first frost. It is a long bloomer, but will not keep monarchs from migrating as reported in hot season climates. [Wisconsin Master Gardeners]
The long stems are excellent for cutting and the flowers have a long vase life.
The flowers are very attractive to butterflies, bees and other insects, as well as hummingbirds. Monarch butterflies use this species as a host plant. The caterpillars seem to prefer this species over many of the native species that have tougher leaves. They have a higher survival rate and a shorter development time on A. curassavica than on common milkweed, A. syriaca. [Wisconsin Master Gardeners]
Pinching the young plants will encourage branching and therefore more flower clusters. Plant seedlings outside after last frost date. This species may reseed if the developing pods are not removed.
There is currently a hotly contested debate about whether tropical milkweed is spreading disease to monarch butterflies or causing them to delay migration. For us, this is a non-issue because of location but, to be safe, please pull your milkweed by the first of November and compost. The original report can be read here, https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2014.1734. Currently, no research shows these issues are a problem north of the South Carolina coast.
‘Silky Gold’ – a cultivar with yellow flowers; 28″; Ornamental & multipurpose plant.
‘Silky Deep Red’ – darker red flowers than the species; 28″; Ornamental & multipurpose plant.
‘Apollo Orange’ – 28″; Bright scarlet flowers with yellow corolla.
‘Apollo Yellow’ – Yellow flowers
Tropical Milkweed – USDA Plant Fact Sheet
Tropical Milkweed – Missouri Botanical Garden
Milkweed – University of Connecticut Home & Garden Information Center
Tropical Milkweed – University of Wisconsin – Extension Master Gardeners
Recommended for Wildlife by
For the Birds, Butterflies & Hummingbirds: Creating Inviting Habitats – Virginia Extension
Top Nectar Plants, Piedmont (Central Maryland) by North American Butterfly Association
Butterfly Gardening in the DC Area by Washington Area Butterfly Club