Sun/shade: Full sun to part shade
Soil moisture: Medium to wet
Flowering period: June to October
Host plant for 12 caterpillar species
Meet the milkweed that has ventured into the wetlands of NE Ohio and is the special darling of the monarch butterfly! Monarchs depend on milkweeds as the sole food source for their caterpillars, and evidence suggests that swamp milkweed may be favored over other milkweeds by female monarchs during egg-laying. The wildlife value of swamp milkweed extends well beyond hosting the monarch, however. The plant is an outstanding nectar source for a wide range of insects including bees, wasps, ants, flies, beetles, and bugs, and it is highly attractive to moths and butterflies.
Swamp milkweed is distinguished among the milkweeds for its ability to tolerate flooded soils, and in the wild it is most commonly found growing in wetland environments. In the garden, swamp milkweed does well in soils of average to high moisture and full sun exposure. Swamp milkweed provides a wonderful addition to the midsummer color palette of the native plants garden, producing broad, eye-catching clusters of flowers that are two-toned in appearance, owing to each flower’s pink petals and cream colored center. To any passers-by inclined to stop and smell the flowers, swamp milkweed is a special treat: the rich aroma is likened to cinnamon and vanilla.
Photos by Ashley Keesling.