in Tucson, Phoenix,
Arizona and California

Gardening in Tucson, Phoenix, Arizona and California

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Growing Asclepias subulata: Desert Milkweed

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Form: A subshrub with a woody base and herbaceous stems.
Leaf retention: Deciduous.
Growth rate: Moderate.
Mature Size: 4' high and wide.
Flowers: Small flowers in clusters, dull yellow to white, not showy.
Bloom: Spring through fall.
Fruit: Horn-shaped seed pods, 3" long, initially blue to green, containing plumed seeds.
Leaves: Small, narrow leaves appear during rain and drop in drought.
Stems: Blue to green, photosynthesizing, long, narrow, upright, no thorns.
Roots: This plant has a taproot.
Wildlife: It attracts butterflies, bees, and insects that feed on aphids. It is a caterpillar food plant for Queen and Monarch butterflies.
Toxic / Danger: All parts of this plant are toxic if ingested, and the sap is skin irritant.
Origin: California, Nevada, Arizona and Mexico.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 9-11.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Sun: Full sun to part shade.
Water once established: Monthly. Overwatering attracts aphids.
Soil: Well drained, pH 6.6-8.5 (neutral to alkaline).
Prune: In winter, cut overgrown clumps to their base to induce new growth.
Litter: Low.
Propagation: Seed.
Uses: Butterfly garden, xeric garden, butterfly caterpillar nursery.

This plant is a member of the Dogbane family (Apocynaceae). Another common name is Rush Milkweed. The blue to green stems provide a bit of color all year. This is a long blooming plant.

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Latest update: February, 2019.

Asclepias subulata: Desert Milkweed - flowers

Asclepias subulata: Desert Milkweed - with butterfly

Asclepias subulata: Desert Milkweed - seed pods

Asclepias subulata: Desert Milkweed