Monday, June 16, 2014

Milkweed's "Shady" Cousin

Shade tolerant milkweed aka Asclepias exaltata
Asclepias exaltata
In honor of Pollinator Week (June 16-22)  I would like to introduce you to Asclepias exaltata-Poke Milkweed.  Poke Milkweed is a shade tolerant (yes-I said shade tolerant!) cousin to those sun loving plants in the milkweed family. The Poke milkweed I have been growing in my yard receives less than 3 hours of direct sun in a day and the blooms and foliage have not suffered because of this lack of sun.    Another positive about this milkweed-it does not seem to be as aggressive as some of the other members in the Asclepias family.  In fact my clump has been slowly expanding.  The picture below shows the size of my clump which I grew from seed in 2009/2010:

Asclepias exaltata
Asclepias exaltata

Here are some facts about Asclepias exaltata (Poke Milkweed):

1.  It is native to the Eastern half of the United States
2.  It is shade and drought tolerant frequently found growing on the edges of woodlands and forests or in clearings in the woodlands.
3.  It is surprisingly aromatic when blooming.
4.  Has striking flowers.
Asclepias exaltata flowers
Asclepias exaltata flowers
 5.  Attractive to a wide range of pollinators as both a nectar source and a larval host.
Bee on Asclepias exaltata
6.  Grows from 2ft to 6 ft tall.
7.  I have found that it blooms earlier than other Milkweeds-mine is in full bloom now (mid June).
8.  Low maintenance.
9.  Hardy between -40 and -30F.
10. Deer and rabbit resistant.
11. Easy to start from seed.
Asclepias exaltata
Asclepias exaltata
If you are looking to add some pollinator friendly plants to your landscape try Asclepias exaltata-you won't be disappointed!

You can find seed for this awesome native plant at

Until next time-Happy Planting!!!



  1. These look like a good plant to have in our butterfly garden in town. I usually volunteer to tend that. I will have to make that suggestion. Looks nice. I like that "nodding" blossom. Petrikis Community Park in Bellbrook Ohio.

    1. This is an easy Milkweed to grow-even easy from seed. Another bonus is-it is not as aggressive as Common Milkweed so it won't take over.