Sunday, April 12, 2015

Asclepias sullivanti or Prairie Milkweed

Prairie Milkweed is also called Sullivant's Milkweed, named for William Starling Sullivant, an American Botanist of the mid-1800's.  It is the winner of the 2015 Green Thumb Award for Best New Product.  This Milkweed appears generally similar to Common Milkweed but is less aggressive, has slightly smaller flowers and an overall smooth appearance on the stem, leaves and seed pods.  Visited by hummingbirds and a wide variety of bees and butterflies (including, of course, Monarchs), Prairie Milkweed is one of the plants favored by the larvae of the Milkweed Leaf-Miner fly, which bore holes in the leaves.
Easily grown from seed and bearing a very fragrant flower, Prairie Milkweed makes a nice addition to any sunny medium to medium-moist garden.  After just a few years the taproot will extend very deep, protecting the plant in times of drought, but also making it difficult to move so choose your spot wisely (from

As with the other milkweeds, our propagation technique is detailed in our first post about Marvelous Milkweeds to Save our Monarchs.

Following is our journal starting after stratification.

April 12, 2015
WV Sprout.  As with the other milkweed seeds we are starting, I have removed the stratified seeds from their home in the refrigerator.  They have been in the refrigerator since March 2.

Using a soilless mix and placing 5-6 seeds in a large pot, I have planted several pots today and taken outside in the hopes that I will now see some sprouts.  We hope to have pots with green leaves showing by our June membership picnic.  Our weather is already very warm, but the last frost date here is May 10.  A dry week is predicted so I will have to watch and make sure these pots don't dry out.

A large bucket of moistened soilless mix
and a few smaller pots.  5-6 seeds will
to into each of the smaller pots.

Pots will be kept in a small enclosed area
and watched carefully.
June 9, 2015  So far, so good!  We have actually had a high germination rate of our seeds.  They were potted up at two different times, one set April 12 (above) and the other just recently.  The earlier pots are doing well and shown below.  These are in the holding area where the Baptisia plants are located; you can see one in the lower right in the white rimmed pots.  Other asclepias are in a sunnier spot and you can see their progress under whirled milkweed and spider milkweed.
Photo taken June 1, 2015.
Nice growth occurring here.

End of summer, 2015
As with all of our other milkweed varieties, members are putting their gardens to bed.  Plants that were put directly in the ground are being cut back to the ground and a layer of mulch added for extra protection as they are still tender plants.  Plants that were left in the original pots as in the photo above are being put in a sheltered spot and mulch mounded heavily around the outside of the pots to prevent the roots from dying.  We look forward to spring of 2016 to see new growth, blooms and monarchs!

This is from a plant that Kitty
Sprout purchased.  Beautiful bloom
and I am sure hosted a caterpillar or two!

Another of Kitty Sprouts with an
Eastern Swallowtail.
All of our future updates will be on our Marvelous Milkweeds page as an ongoing journal.


  1. Prairie milkweed also doing well. Ready for our hot Charleston summer to arrive!

  2. Spider milkweed also has an updated photo.

  3. Last of the season update on Prairie Milkweed.