Langridge

Asclepias curassavica "Silky Red"

Asclepias curassavica "Silky Red"

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Asclepias curassavica "Silky Red", commonly known as Tropical Milkweed or Bloodflower, is a striking perennial plant valued for its vibrant red and orange flowers. These flowers attract a variety of pollinators, particularly butterflies, including the Monarch butterfly, which relies on milkweed species for its lifecycle. The plant has slender, lance-shaped leaves and produces clusters of small, star-shaped flowers throughout the growing season.

Hardiness Zones: Suitable for USDA hardiness zones 8-11. In colder regions, it can be grown as an annual or in containers that are brought indoors during winter.

Height and Width

Height: Asclepias curassavica typically grows to a height of 2-3 feet (60-90 cm).

Width: Asclepias curassavica spreads to a width of about 1-2 feet (30-60 cm).

Uses

Pollinator Gardens: Asclepias curassavica attracts butterflies, bees, and other pollinators, making it an excellent addition to pollinator-friendly gardens.

Monarch Habitat: Asclepias curassavica serves as a host plant for Monarch butterfly larvae, providing a critical resource for their lifecycle.

Ornamental: Asclepias curassavica adds vibrant color to garden beds, borders, and containers with its striking flowers.

Native Range

Tropical Milkweed is native to the tropical regions of South America. It has naturalized in many other warm regions around the world.

Planting and Care

1. Site Selection: Choose a location with full sun to light shade. Full sun is preferred for optimal flowering and growth.

2. Soil: Prefers well-draining soil. It can tolerate a range of soil types but thrives in moderately fertile, sandy, or loamy soils.

3. Watering: Water regularly to keep the soil evenly moist, especially during dry periods. Once established, it can tolerate short periods of drought.

4. Fertilization: Fertilize lightly in the spring with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer. Over-fertilization can lead to excessive foliage growth at the expense of flowers.

5. Mulching: Apply a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around the base of the plant to retain soil moisture and suppress weeds.

6. Pruning: Deadhead spent flowers to encourage continuous blooming. Cut back the plant in late fall to remove any diseased or dead material and to tidy the garden.

Pests and Diseases

Pests: Watch for aphids, which can be controlled with insecticidal soap or by encouraging natural predators like ladybugs. Monarch larvae may also feed on the plant, which is a natural and beneficial occurrence.

Diseases: Generally disease-resistant, but ensure good air circulation to prevent fungal issues like powdery mildew.

Additional Tips

Winter Care: In regions where it is grown as a perennial, cut back the plant to the ground in late fall or early winter to prepare for new growth in spring.

Invasiveness: In some regions, Tropical Milkweed can be invasive. Regular monitoring and removal of unwanted seedlings can help manage its spread.

To avoid the spread of Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE) disease in Louisiana, cut back Asclepias curassavica (Tropical Milkweed) in June and October (in Louisiana).

 

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