Whorled Milkweed Description:
Asclepias verticillata, commonly known as Whorled Milkweed, is a perennial herbaceous plant that is native to North America. It typically grows to a height of 1-3 feet (0.3-0.9 meters) and spreads to about 1-2 feet (0.3-0.6 meters) wide. The plant has a shallow, fibrous root system and can tolerate a variety of soil types.
The leaves of the Asclepias verticillata plant are long and narrow, measuring about 1-3 inches (2.5-7.6 cm) in length and 0.1-0.2 inches (2-5 mm) in width. The leaves are arranged in whorls of 3-6 around the stem and have a slightly fuzzy texture.
Asclepias verticillata produces small, white to greenish-white flowers in clusters at the top of the stem from early summer to late summer. The flowers have a unique structure consisting of five petals and five sepals that are fused to form a distinctive hood-shaped structure called the corona. The corona contains a nectar-rich reservoir that attracts a variety of pollinators, particularly butterflies and bees.
After the flowers are pollinated, Asclepias verticillata produces elongated, spindle-shaped seed pods that can reach up to 5 inches (13 cm) long. These seed pods are filled with numerous small seeds that are attached to silky, white floss, which helps them to disperse in the wind.
Overall, Asclepias verticillata is an important plant for pollinators, particularly butterflies, which rely on it as a host plant for their eggs and as a food source for their larvae. The plant is also used in traditional medicine for various ailments, and its young shoots were historically used as a vegetable by Native American tribes.
Whorled milkweed can be found natively in the western portion of Minnesota. It can also be found in most of the central and Eastern United States. Additionally, some western states such as Wyoming, Montana, and Arizona are also home to the Whorled milkweed plant.
Standard Plant Information:
Plant Height: 1' - 3'
Bloom Time: June - September
Preferred Habitat: Does well in part shade to full sun. Often found in prairies, open woodland, and roadsides.
For most homeowners, the best option is to scatter seed on the ground by hand broadcasting at a minimum of 16-64 pls ounces per acre. For even coverage, we recommend that you broadcast seed in perpendicular rows across the site to ensure even coverage.
You’ll want to broadcast any grass seed first, which will get raked into the soil lightly. Next, it is ideal to mulch the area lightly with either a clean (no seed) straw or preferably with our native Little Bluestem straw, sold at our retail garden centers. After a light mulching is complete, now it’s time to broadcast your native wildflower seeds, which should not be raked into the soil. A good rain or watering is sufficient to cover the seed.
Simply dig a hole in the soil slightly larger than the plant’s roots. Ensure that the soil line of the plant is maintained during the transfer (i.e. the plant should be at the same level with the ground as it was in the pot). Pack any loose dirt back around the plant and make sure you water it well the same day to ensure it has the best chance of survival.
maps used with permission from MN Wildflowers