Caring for Your Native Milkweed Plants

One of the best ways to help monarch butterflies is to plant native milkweed! Learn more about the types of milkweed native to Central Oregon, then get tips on how to care for your milkweed.


Showy milkweed. Photo: Darlene Ashley.
Showy milkweed. Photo: Darlene Ashley.
One of the best ways to help monarch butterflies is to plant native milkweed! We have two kinds of native milkweed in Central Oregon: showy milkweed and narrowleaf milkweed. Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed only. Planting 3-6 milkweed plants (preferably a combination of showy and narrowleaf) helps provide egg laying space and food for newly emerged caterpillars.
 
Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa): This milkweed has showy rose-purple flowers in later summer. Leaves are widely oblong with the plant growing 18-36 in. tall. This milkweed likes sun and medium water.
 
Narrowleaf milkweed. Photo: Land Trust.
Narrowleaf milkweed. Photo: Land Trust.
Narrowleaf Milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis): Our other native milkweed has narrow leaves like its name suggests. It grows 12-36 in. tall and has white to lavender colored flowers. Plant it in full sun and well-drained soil. It is drought tolerant.
 
Helpful Hints:

  • Most native plants love the sun! It doesn’t have to be full sun, but your plant will be happiest if it has a decent amount of sun (4-8 hours every day, depending on strength of the sun).


  • Little plants don’t like competition from other plants when they’re starting out. You’ll want to make sure the soil around your plant start is free of leaves and sticks to help the soil warm up.
  • Your milkweed will continue to need regular watering in order to establish their roots. You’ll need to be patient, as native plants can take 2-3 years to get established or to even bloom!
  • Once your milkweed becomes established, it could begin spreading underground via its rhizomes. If you’d like to control spread, consider planting in a raised bed.

 
**Note: Milkweed contains toxins that can be harmful to pets, livestock, and people, if ingested.**


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