Are you looking to enhance your garden with a mesmerizing native wildflower that also serves as a vital host plant for the majestic Monarch butterfly? Look no further than purple milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens). This stunning perennial plant not only adds beauty to your landscape but also promotes plant conservation and creates an ideal wildlife habitat.

Native to most of the eastern US and Ontario, Canada, purple milkweed thrives in USDA hardiness zones 3a-9b. With its rich rose to light purplish flowers, purple milkweed attracts a variety of pollinators, making it a perfect addition to any pollinator garden. This versatile plant can reach a height of 2 to 3 feet and prefers full sun to part shade conditions.

By cultivating purple milkweed, you not only beautify your garden but also contribute to the preservation of the Monarch butterfly population. These butterflies rely on milkweed plants as their essential host plants, laying their eggs exclusively on milkweed leaves. By providing a habitat for Monarchs, you play a crucial role in their life cycle and help sustain their populations.

Key Takeaways:

  • Purple milkweed is a native wildflower and a host plant for the Monarch butterfly.
  • It attracts pollinators and adds beauty to your garden.
  • Growing purple milkweed promotes plant conservation and supports wildlife habitats.
  • It thrives in USDA hardiness zones 3a-9b and prefers full sun to part shade conditions.
  • Cultivating purple milkweed contributes to the preservation of the Monarch butterfly population.

Purple Milkweed Plant Specs

Learn all about the specifications of purple milkweed, a beautiful native perennial plant that adds vibrant color and ecological value to your garden.

Plant Name:Purple Milkweed
Scientific Name:Asclepias purpurascens
Nativity:Native to most of the eastern US and Ontario, Canada
USDA Hardiness Zones:Zones 3a-9b
Light Requirements:Full sun to part shade
Height:2-3 feet
Spacing:1-3 feet
Leaf Color:Dark green
Flower Color:Rich rose to light purplish
Blooming Season:Late spring to early summer
Milkweed Pods:Smooth and thin

Purple milkweed, scientifically known as Asclepias purpurascens, is a show-stopping native perennial plant found across the eastern US and Ontario, Canada. It is well-suited for USDA hardiness zones 3a-9b and can thrive in a variety of light conditions, from full sun to part shade.

In terms of size, purple milkweed can grow to a height of 2 to 3 feet, making it a perfect addition to garden beds, borders, and pollinator gardens. When planting purple milkweed, ensure a spacing of 1 to 3 feet between each plant to allow for proper growth and airflow.

The leaves of purple milkweed are distinguishable by their pointed shape and dark green color. These foliage characteristics add an elegant touch to the plant’s overall appearance. The flowers of purple milkweed bloom from late spring to early summer, and their rich rose to light purplish hues are sure to attract pollinators to your garden.

“Purple milkweed brings vibrant color and ecological value to your garden. Its dark green leaves and rich rose to light purplish flowers are a favorite among pollinators.”

Asclepias Purpurascens Pros

Purple milkweed, also known as Asclepias purpurascens, offers several advantages that make it a valuable addition to any garden or landscape. Let’s explore the pros of growing purple milkweed:

1. Preferred Spring Host Plant for Monarch Caterpillars

Purple milkweed is the preferred host plant for Monarch caterpillars during the spring season. By planting purple milkweed, you provide essential sustenance for these majestic butterflies and support their life cycle.

2. Attracts Beneficial Pollinators

The fragrant flowers of purple milkweed are highly attractive to a wide variety of beneficial pollinators. Bees, butterflies, and other insects are drawn to the nectar-rich blossoms, making your garden a thriving habitat for these important pollinators.

3. Adds an Attractive Appearance to the Garden

The pretty purple blossoms of purple milkweed add a splash of color and an attractive appearance to the garden. The vibrant hue of the flowers creates a visually appealing focal point, especially when they bloom in late spring and early summer.

“The beauty of purple milkweed’s flowers is truly captivating. It’s a delightful sight to see the garden filled with their rich purple tones.” – Gardening enthusiast

4. Easier to Transplant

Compared to other milkweed species, purple milkweed is easier to transplant successfully. Unlike species with underground rhizomes, purple milkweed can be transplanted with greater ease, allowing you to relocate the plant as needed without much hassle.

Overall, purple milkweed is an excellent choice for gardeners who want to create a welcoming environment for Monarch butterflies, attract beneficial pollinators, enhance the visual appeal of their garden, and have the flexibility to transplant their plants with ease.

2nd Year Growth

Purple milkweed, like many plants, experiences significant growth in its second year. During this stage, the plant establishes itself further and prepares for future flowering and seed production.

One notable aspect of the second year of growth is the increase in plant size. Purple milkweed can grow taller and broader, reaching its full potential as a mature plant. The development of a robust root system contributes to the plant’s overall growth and stability.

Another exciting change in the second year is the development of more flowers. Purple milkweed produces beautiful, fragrant blooms that attract pollinators like butterflies and bees. The increased number of flowers not only enhances the visual appeal of the plant but also provides more nectar sources for beneficial insects.

The second year of growth is crucial for purple milkweed as it solidifies its place in the garden or landscape. It establishes a strong foundation, paving the way for more impressive blooms and seed production in subsequent years.

3rd Year Glory

By the third year, the growth of purple milkweed reaches its full potential, resulting in a stunning display of blooming flowers. This is when the plant becomes fully established, showcasing its glory in the garden.

Purple milkweed, a native wildflower, attracts a myriad of pollinators with its vibrant blooms. The third year of growth is particularly special as it offers an abundance of flowers, creating a visual spectacle that captivates both humans and insects alike.

Attracting Pollinators

The blooming purple milkweed is an irresistible magnet for various pollinators such as butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects. The nectar-rich flowers serve as a vital food source for these creatures, supporting their populations and promoting biodiversity in your garden.

“The third year bloom of purple milkweed transforms the garden into a thriving ecosystem, providing a feast for pollinators and enhancing the overall beauty of the landscape.”

The enchanting fragrance of the purple milkweed flowers further entices pollinators, making your garden a vibrant hub of activity during the blooming season.

Visual Splendor

As purple milkweed matures into its third year, the plant’s flowers become more abundant, creating a visual spectacle that adds color and vibrancy to your garden. The deep hues of the purple and pink blossoms create a stunning contrast against the lush green foliage, making the plant a focal point and a standout feature in any landscape.

The delicate clusters of flowers sway gently in the breeze, adding movement and grace to your garden. This attraction is not limited to humans, as butterflies and insects are drawn to the vivid display, further enhancing the magical ambiance of your garden.

Blossoming Wildlife Habitat

Purple milkweed’s impressive growth in its third year contributes to the creation of a thriving wildlife habitat. The abundance of blooming flowers provides a vital food source for a wide range of insects and butterflies, supporting their life cycles and acting as a sanctuary for these creatures.

Embracing purple milkweed in your garden not only adds beauty but also plays a crucial role in preserving local ecosystems.

Benefits of 3rd Year GrowthDetails
Abundance of bloomsThe plant produces numerous flowers that attract pollinators.
Visual spectacleThe vibrant colors and movement of the flowers create an enchanting garden feature.
Support for pollinatorsThe blooming purple milkweed provides essential food sources for butterflies and other beneficial insects.
Creation of wildlife habitatThe flowers contribute to the development of a thriving ecosystem, supporting a variety of insects and butterflies.

Asclepias Purpurascens Cons

While purple milkweed has many advantages, it’s important to consider some of the drawbacks associated with growing this plant. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Challenging Seeding and Establishment

Seeding can be a challenge when it comes to mature purple milkweed plants. Compared to other milkweed species, establishing purple milkweed is also more difficult due to the lack of an underground rhizome. This can make it trickier for the plant to spread and thrive in your garden.

Susceptibility to Aphid Pests

Like most milkweed plants, purple milkweed is prone to aphid pests. These small sap-sucking insects can infest the plant, causing damage and inhibiting its growth. It’s important to monitor for aphid infestations and take appropriate measures to control them.

Limited Availability

Finding purple milkweed plants or seeds locally or online can be a challenge due to limited availability. This can make it more difficult for gardeners to acquire the plant and incorporate it into their gardens. However, with some effort and research, it is possible to find a reliable source for purple milkweed.

Potential Vulnerability to Pests

Purple milkweed, like other milkweed species, is vulnerable to pests such as small critters like rabbits. These animals may feed on the plants, causing damage and potentially hindering their growth. Protecting purple milkweed from these pests is essential to ensure its successful establishment and growth.

Despite these challenges, passionate gardeners continue to experiment and learn more about the best growing practices for purple milkweed. While it may require some extra care and attention, the unique beauty and ecological value of purple milkweed make it a worthwhile addition to any garden.

Stay tuned for the next section where we’ll explore methods of propagating purple milkweed and expanding its presence in gardens across the country.

Asclepias Purpurascens Plant Propagation

purple milkweed image

If you’re looking to propagate purple milkweed, there are various methods you can try. Let’s explore the different options for successfully growing this beautiful plant.

Harvesting and Sowing Seeds

One method of propagating purple milkweed is by harvesting the seeds in the fall and sowing them directly outdoors around November in most regions. This allows the seeds to naturally undergo stratification during the winter months.

Another option is winter sowing, which involves sowing the milkweed seeds in winter to control the placement of the plants. This method can be particularly useful for those who want to ensure the plants are located in specific areas of their garden.

If you prefer to start the seeds indoors, you can do so about two months before the final frost. However, it’s important to note that purple milkweed seeds require cold stratification, meaning they need a period of cold temperatures to break their dormancy. You can achieve this by placing the seeds in a moist paper towel and storing them in the refrigerator for four to six weeks before sowing.

Alternatively, you can sow the seeds directly outdoors in the spring after the final frost. This method eliminates the need for cold stratification and allows the seeds to naturally break dormancy as the temperature warms up.

Transplanting Established Plants

If you have established purple milkweed plants that you want to propagate, you can do so by transplanting them. Transplanting can be done in either early spring or fall, when the plants are not actively blooming.

To transplant purple milkweed, carefully dig up the entire root ball of the plant, taking care not to damage the roots. Choose a location with similar growing conditions to where the plant was previously growing, such as full sun to part shade and well-drained soil.

Once you have chosen the new planting spot, dig a hole that is slightly larger than the root ball. Gently place the plant into the hole, making sure it is level with the surrounding soil. Backfill the hole with soil, and water the plant thoroughly to help settle the soil and remove any air pockets.

Propagation MethodBest TimeKey Requirements
Harvesting and sowing seedsFall (November) or winterCold stratification, outdoor sowing
Starting seeds indoors2 months before final frostCold stratification, indoor sowing
Transplanting established plantsEarly spring or fallHealthy root system, suitable growing conditions

Remember to provide adequate care and maintenance to ensure the successful propagation and growth of purple milkweed. Regularly water the plants, especially during dry spells, and protect them from extreme weather conditions. With proper care, you can enjoy the beauty and ecological benefits of purple milkweed in your garden.

Purple Milkweed Growing Tips

When it comes to growing purple milkweed, following these tips can help ensure a successful and thriving plant. Whether you choose outdoor sowing or prefer to start your seeds indoors, understanding the adaptable conditions, soil requirements, sunlight needs, and post-bloom care will contribute to the health and longevity of your purple milkweed.

Sowing and Planting

Outdoor Sowing: Outdoor sowing is the easiest method for growing purple milkweed. Directly sow the seeds in the garden bed during the fall for optimal results. This allows the seeds to experience natural cold stratification during winter. However, if you prefer, spring sowing is also an option, with proper cold stratification of the seeds beforehand.

Adaptable Conditions: Purple milkweed is known to be adaptable to a wide range of growing conditions. However, it thrives best in well-drained soil. Before planting, ensure the soil is fertile and well-drained by mixing in composted manure or organic matter.

Light Requirements: Purple milkweed prefers a location with morning to early afternoon sunlight. It is best to provide some shade during the hot afternoon sun to prevent stress on the plants.

Care and Maintenance

Segregating Plants: To prevent aggressive spreading, consider segregating purple milkweed from other milkweed species in your garden. This will help maintain the growth and integrity of your plants.

Protection: Protect your purple milkweed plants from small critters, such as rabbits, by using rabbit fencing around the garden bed or individual plants. This prevents damage to the foliage and ensures the plants can grow undisturbed.

Post-Bloom Care: After the blooms have faded, consider cutting back some common stems by about a third. This will encourage fresh plant growth and potentially lead to the emergence of an extra generation of monarch butterflies.

Seed Collection: If you do not want seedlings from your purple milkweed plants, it is recommended to remove or bind shut the seed pods to prevent seed dispersal.

A Passion for Purple

Purple milkweed is not only a favorite of Monarch butterflies but also attracts a variety of other pollinators and insect visitors. Its beautiful purple flowers and nectar make purple milkweed a valuable addition to any garden looking to attract wildlife and support biodiversity.

Attraction to Pollinators

Purple milkweed serves as a fascinating magnet for a diverse range of pollinators and other butterfly species. Apart from Monarch butterflies, purple milkweed can attract azures, bumblebees, eastern black swallowtails, eastern tiger swallowtails, great spangled fritillaries, hairstreaks, painted lady butterflies, skippers, sulphurs, and many more. The vibrant purple flowers and abundant nectar of the purple milkweed create an irresistible enticement for these beneficial garden visitors, enhancing the ecological balance of your outdoor space.

Encouraging Wildlife Attraction

Purple milkweed, with its vivid and alluring blooms, acts as a wildlife attraction magnet in any garden or landscape. By planting purple milkweed, you provide a food source and habitat for various pollinators and insects. Creating a vibrant environment that supports wildlife not only adds beauty to your surroundings but also contributes to the overall conservation of these creatures and their delicate ecosystems.

Pollinators and Butterfly Species Attracted to Purple Milkweed
Eastern Black Swallowtails
Eastern Tiger Swallowtails
Great Spangled Fritillaries
Painted Lady Butterflies

Experience the joy of observing a vibrant array of pollinators and butterfly species in your garden by adding purple milkweed to your outdoor space. Its attractive flowers, combined with its ability to support wildlife, make purple milkweed an excellent choice for any wildlife enthusiast or garden lover.

Buy Asclepias Purpurascens Seeds and Plants

purple milkweed seeds and plants

If you’re interested in growing purple milkweed, there are several online resources where you can purchase seeds and plants. It is recommended to always purchase seeds and plants by their scientific name, Asclepias purpurascens, to ensure accurate selection. Websites such as Joyful Butterfly, Etsy, and eBay offer options for purchasing purple milkweed seeds and plants. By obtaining these resources, you can start growing your own purple milkweed and contribute to the conservation of this native wildflower.

Here are some online resources where you can purchase Asclepias purpurascens seeds and plants:

  • Joyful Butterfly
  • Etsy
  • eBay

By purchasing purple milkweed seeds and plants, you can start your journey in growing this beautiful native wildflower and attract pollinators to your garden.

WebsiteAvailabilityPrice Range
Joyful ButterflySeeds and plants available$5 – $20
EtsySeeds and plants available$3 – $15
eBaySeeds and plants available$1 – $10


Purple milkweed, also known as Asclepias purpurascens, is a valuable addition to any garden or landscape. Its role as a host plant for Monarch butterflies and its ability to attract a wide range of pollinators and insect visitors make it an essential component of pollinator gardens. By including purple milkweed in your garden, you not only enhance its beauty but also contribute to plant conservation and the creation of wildlife habitats.

The attractive purple flowers of purple milkweed serve as a beacon, inviting butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects to your garden. By supporting these pollinators, you play a crucial role in maintaining the ecological balance and promoting biodiversity. Purple milkweed brings color, life, and vibrancy to your outdoor space while fulfilling its ecological role in the ecosystem.

If you’re interested in creating a pollinator-friendly environment and providing a haven for Monarch butterflies and other pollinators, consider adding purple milkweed to your garden. By doing so, you can actively contribute to plant conservation and the preservation of wildlife habitats. Purple milkweed is not only a visually stunning plant but also a powerful symbol of our commitment to ecological gardening and environmental stewardship.


What is purple milkweed?

Purple milkweed, also known as Asclepias purpurascens, is a native wildflower and perennial plant that serves as a host plant for Monarch butterflies.

What are the plant specifications of purple milkweed?

Purple milkweed is a native plant that grows in USDA hardiness zones 3a-9b. It prefers full sun to part shade conditions and reaches a height of 2 to 3 feet. The spacing between plants should be 1 to 3 feet. The leaves are dark green, pointed, and the flowers are rich rose to light purplish in color.

What advantages does purple milkweed offer?

Purple milkweed is the preferred host plant for Monarch caterpillars, attracts pollinators with its fragrant flowers, and adds an attractive appearance to gardens. It is also easier to transplant compared to other milkweed species.

How does purple milkweed grow in its second year?

In its second year, purple milkweed experiences significant growth, including an increase in size and the development of more flowers. This stage is important for the plant to establish itself and prepare for future flowering and seed production.

What can be expected from purple milkweed in its third year?

By the third year, purple milkweed reaches its full potential and produces an abundance of blooms. It attracts pollinators and adds beauty to the landscape.

Are there any drawbacks to growing purple milkweed?

Some challenges include difficulty with seeding, establishing the plant, susceptibility to aphid pests, limited availability for purchase, and vulnerability to small critters that may feed on the plants.

How can purple milkweed be propagated?

Purple milkweed can be propagated by harvesting seeds in the fall and sowing them outdoors, using winter sowing methods, starting seeds indoors with cold stratification, or directly sowing them outdoors after the final frost. Transplanting established plants can also be done in early spring or fall.

What are some tips for successfully growing purple milkweed?

It is easiest to sow seeds outside directly in the fall, but spring sowing with cold stratification is also possible. Provide purple milkweed with fertile, well-drained soil, sufficient sunlight, and protect it from aggressive spreading and pests. After blooming, cutting back stems can promote fresh growth.

What pollinators are attracted to purple milkweed?

Purple milkweed attracts a variety of pollinators, including Monarch butterflies, azures, bumblebees, swallowtails, fritillaries, hairstreaks, painted lady butterflies, skippers, sulphurs, and more.

Where can I buy purple milkweed seeds and plants?

Websites like Joyful Butterfly, Etsy, and eBay offer options for purchasing purple milkweed seeds and plants.

What are the benefits of growing purple milkweed?

Growing purple milkweed promotes the well-being of Monarch butterflies, creates pollinator-friendly environments, supports plant conservation efforts, and provides habitat for wildlife.

Categorized in:

Butterflies, Butterfly Food,

Last Update: December 30, 2023