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Scarlet Milkweed Asclepias curassavica

Phonetic Spelling
as-KLEE-pee-as kur-a-SA-vih-ka
This plant has medium severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Tropical Milkweed is a tender erect perennial often grown as an annual. It can be weedy in disturbed areas and is frequently found naturalized in waste places, roadsides, or fields. 

Its bright orange-red flowers form in clusters on top of the leaves and stems that have a milky juice when damaged.  Blooming from spring to fall in temperate climates.  Plant it in the full sun in moist, fertile, well-drained soil.  It will reach a height of 3 feet and a spread of 2 feet.

This plant isn't recommended for attracting Monarch Butterflies because they can bloom out of sync with Monarch migration patterns and hold them too long in one area, affecting their populations.  Plant one of the native milkweeds instead.

It will remain as an evergreen to Zone 9b.  The long tap root makes it difficult to transplant when mature.  

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Aphids are a common insect.  They tend to colonize on the plant, which can lead to sooty mold.  Spraying the leaves with a forceful stream of water, such as from a hose, will help wash the aphids off.  

Ophryocystis elektroscirrha a monarch parasite can occur on this plant in locations where this plant does not die back in the winter months.  This protozoan parasite can be left on the leaves of a plant by visiting monarchs.  As the caterpillars eat the leaves, they also ingest the parasite.  This can lead to a shortened lifespan, lower body mass and their flight ability.  Cutting the plant down will help to remediate this issue but the best course of action is to plant one of the native milkweed (found in the left hand column) instead.

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Davidson County Demo Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Apollo Orange'
    Orange flowers
  • 'Apollo Yellow'
    Yellow Flowers
  • 'Red Butterfly'
    Dark red flowers
  • 'Silky Deep Red'
    Dark red flowers
  • 'Silky Gold'
    Yellow flowers
'Apollo Orange', 'Apollo Yellow', 'Red Butterfly', 'Silky Deep Red', 'Silky Gold'
Tags:
#hummingbirds#showy flowers#poisonous#moths#weedy#frost tender#rabbit resistant#messy#deer resistant#long bloom time#self-seeding#cutting garden#messy fruits#wet soils tolerant#dry soils tolerant#butterfly friendly#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses#tropical#showy#butterflies#bees#butterfly#cut flower
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Apollo Orange'
    Orange flowers
  • 'Apollo Yellow'
    Yellow Flowers
  • 'Red Butterfly'
    Dark red flowers
  • 'Silky Deep Red'
    Dark red flowers
  • 'Silky Gold'
    Yellow flowers
'Apollo Orange', 'Apollo Yellow', 'Red Butterfly', 'Silky Deep Red', 'Silky Gold'
Tags:
#hummingbirds#showy flowers#poisonous#moths#weedy#frost tender#rabbit resistant#messy#deer resistant#long bloom time#self-seeding#cutting garden#messy fruits#wet soils tolerant#dry soils tolerant#butterfly friendly#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses#tropical#showy#butterflies#bees#butterfly#cut flower
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Asclepias
    Species:
    curassavica
    Family:
    Apocynaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Mexico to Tropical America
    Wildlife Value:
    Attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, and moths.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Colorful
    Easy to Grow
    Wildlife Food Source
    Dimensions:
    Height: 2 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Poisonous
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10b, 10a, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Follicle
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruits are dry and inflated with an erect follicle and many hair-tufted seeds. They are often used in dried arrangements.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Long Bloom Season
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Brilliant orange-red with yellow flowers in clusters spanning 2-4" across. Each cluster can contain 6 to 15 flowers.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Opposite
    Whorled
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The narrow leaves are simple, alternate, opposite, or whorled. The medium green leaves may have a white midrib.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Description:
    The stems can be simple or branched.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Patio
    Slope/Bank
    Vertical Spaces
    Walkways
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Cutting Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rock Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Hummingbirds
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Rabbits
    Problems:
    Messy
    Poisonous to Humans
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Medium
    Poison Symptoms:
    TOXIC ONLY IF LARGE QUANTITIES EATEN. Vomiting, stupor, weakness, spasms.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Cardiac glycosides and resinoids
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    Yes
    Poison Part:
    Bark
    Flowers
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Roots
    Seeds
    Stems