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15 Irresistible Allen County, OH Milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) to Grow for Butterflies

Table of Contents for Allen County, OH Native or Nearly Native Milkweeds

General Information about Native Plant and Pollinator Gardens

When planting a native plant and pollinator garden in Allen County, OH, you need to ensure that you have a selection of plants that provide blooms at different times of the year. In addition to the plants, you need to provide a source of water such as a birdbath or water feature, shelter for animals, and nesting locations for birds. Be sure to also include plants of different heights for perching. Resources you can use for more information on butterfly gardening in Allen County include the Allen County Master Gardeners.

Location of Allen County, Ohio

State of Ohio map with Allen County highlighted in red.
Allen County marked in red on an Ohio State Map. — David Benbennick, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Allen County is located in northwestern Ohio. Lima is the largest city in the county.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zones in Allen County, Ohio

2023 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map for Ohio.
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map for the State of Ohio — USDA Public Domain

Allen County is located in two plant hardiness zones. Most of the county is in zone 6a, while a small portion around Lima is in zone 6b. When selecting plants you will want to get those that can handle temperatures as cold as -100F in most of the county except for the area around where it would be -50F.

Butterflies in Allen County, Ohio that are Hosted by Milkweeds (Asclepias spp.)

Monarch butterfly on green flower.
Green Flower with Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) — U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

The monarch butterfly is an iconic butterfly in North America and is a bell-weather of the environment. Having a distinctive orange color with black stripes, this butterfly has a wingspan of 3 in (7.6 cm) to 5 in (12.7 cm). The monarch butterfly uses milkweed to get cardenolides, a toxin that is distasteful to predators. This butterfly can have several flights a year and is known for its migrations to Mexico each year. However, some populations in California, Arizona, and Florida do not migrate and breed year-round (Urguhart, et al 1968).

List of Milkweeds that are Native or Nearly Native in the Allen County, OH Area

1. Clasping Milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis), a Milkweed for Sandy Soils

Clasping milkweed grows in average garden soil but be sure that the soil has good drainage and does not dry out. This species likes sunny locations and success is often found by planting from seeds. Smaller plants of this species could be candidates for container plants.

Plant of clasping milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis) with pink flowers in a wooded area.
Clasping Milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis) — Mason Brock (Masebrock), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Facts about Clasping Milkweed

  • Native to Ohio: Yes, rare in the southern and northern counties (Kartesz 2015)
  • Native to Allen County: No
  • Natural Habitat: dry woodlands, prairies, meadows and roadsides
  • Height: up to 3 ft (0.9 m)
  • Flower Color: greenish-pink, red, brown, to purple
  • Flowering Period: March to September
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9

Gardening with Clasping Milkweed

2. Poke Milkweed (Asclepias exaltata), a Milkweed for Shade and Moist Soils

In you have shade in your garden this plant is for you. Poke milkweed, a medium to tall milkweed for Ohio, likes moist soil and has beautiful white flowers.

Plant of poke milkweed with white flowers in a wooded habitat.
Plant of Poke Milkweed — “Asclepias exaltata” by kevinliam is marked with CC0 1.0.

Facts about Poke Milkweed

  • Native to Ohio: Yes, common in the eastern counties, scattered in the west (Kartesz 2015)
  • Native to Allen County: No
  • Natural Habitat: moist woods, roadsides, and edges of woods
  • Height: up to 2 ft (0.6 m) to 6 ft (1.8 m)
  • Flower Color: white to green with tinges of rose, purple or blue
  • Flowering Period: May to August
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9

Gardening with Poke Milkweed

3. Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), a Milkweed for Moist Soils

Swamp milkweed is one of the more common milkweeds planted in the eastern half of the United States and is a medium to tall milkweed. Seeds can be started indoors in the winter and then transplanted outdoors. This species likes moist soils, but can exist in medium soils in a garden situation, if the soil is not allowed to dry out. If you have other wetland species in your garden this plant would a be perfect compliment to provide for the monarch butterfly.

Pink flowers of swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata).
Flowers of Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) — Cbaile19, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Facts about Swamp Milkweed

Asclepias incaranta subsp. incarnata in Ohio

  • Native to Ohio: Yes, throughout (Kartesz 2015)
  • Native to Allen County: Yes
  • Natural Habitat: shores of streams, lakes, ponds, and other wetlands
  • Height: 3 ft (0.9 m) to 5 ft (1.5 m)
  • Flower Color: white, rose, red, pink to purple
  • Flowering Period: July to September
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9

Gardening with Swamp Milkweed

4. Long-leaf Milkweed (Asclepias longifolia), a Milkweed for Moist Soils

If you need a shorter milkweed to compliment swamp milkweed in a moist garden, this species would be a good choice. While not native on Allen County, it can handle the plant hardiness zone and can exist long-term in light of climate induced warming.

Purplish flowers of long-leaf milkweed (Asclepias longifolia).
Flowers of Long-leaf Milkweed — Asclepias longifolia Michx. observed in United States of America by Justin (licensed under CC0 1.0)

Facts about Long-leaf Milkweed

  • Native to Ohio: Yes, southern and northern counties (Kartesz 2015)
  • Native to Allen County: No
  • Natural Habitat: moist areas and wetlands such as bogs, swamps, wet flatwoods, and moist prairies
  • Height: 1 ft (0.3 m) to 2.5 ft (0.8 m)
  • Flower Color: greenish-white with a purple tinge
  • Flowering Period: April to July
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-10

Gardening with Long-leaf Milkweed

5. Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens), a Milkweed for Moist Well-drained Soils

Purple milkweed is native to Allen County and is another plant for moist soils, but are well-drained. Like some of the others, you can start the seeds indoors during the winter and then transplant the seedlings in the spring. Besides the moist soil, this likes part-shade, but can tolerate full sun.

Plant of purple milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens) with purple flowers.
Plant of Purple Milkweed — Asclepias purpurascens L. observed in United States of America by Jim Bowhay (licensed under CC0 1.0)

Facts about Purple Milkweed

  • Native to Ohio: Yes, generally throughout but scattered (Kartesz 2015)
  • Native to Allen County: Yes
  • Natural Habitat: swamps, woodlands, meadows, and roadsides
  • Height: up to 6 ft (1.8 m)
  • Flower Color: purple, rose to pink (they can mature to purple)
  • Flowering Period: May to July
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-8

Gardening with Purple Milkweed

6. Four-leaf Milkweed (Asclepias quadrifolia), a Milkweed for Dry Rocky Soils

If have a loam, sand, or clay that is on the dry side of average, this may be the milkweed for you. Along with the soils four-leaf milkweed enjoys basking in full sun and also like the others it can be started by seed in the winter and then transplanted in the spring.

Pinkish flowers of four-leaf milkweed (Asclepias quadrifolia).
Flowers of Four-leaf Milkweed (Asclepias quadrifolia) — User:Halpaugh, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Facts about Four-leaf Milkweed

  • Native to Ohio: Yes, throughout except the northwest (Kartesz 2015)
  • Native to Allen County: No
  • Natural Habitat: roadsides, pastures, and prairies with disturbance
  • Height: 1 ft (0.3 m) to 2 ft (0.6 m)
  • Flower Color: white to pink
  • Flowering Period: April to July
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-8

Gardening with Four-leaf Milkweed

7. Aquatic Milkweed (Asclepias perennis), a Milkweed for Moist Soils

In you have an area in your garden that is very wet in Allen County, aquatic milkweed could be your milkweed choice. A species from more southern areas, it can now handle the plant hardiness zone in the Lima, OH area. This plant can help those butterflies from the south find a host and nectar plant they are familiar with as they move north with climate change.

Aquatic milkweed (Asclepias perennis) with white flowers in floodplain forest.
Flowers of Aquatic Milkweed — Asclepias perennis Walter observed in United States of America by Étienne Lacroix-Carignan (licensed under CC0 1.0)

Facts about Aquatic Milkweed

  • Native to Ohio: No, not present (Kartesz 2015)
  • Native to Allen County: No
  • Natural Habitat: margins of wetlands such as swamps, alluvial woods, ditches, and marshes
  • Height: 1 ft (0.3 m) to 3.5 ft (1.1 m)
  • Flower Color: white, pink, purplish-rose, or purple
  • Flowering Period: April to October
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-10

Gardening with Aquatic Milkweed

8. Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa), a Milkweed for Medium to Well-drained Soils

Showy milkweed is a common plant in butterfly gardens around the United States. It is a short to medium tall milkweed, making it suitable for containers, but whether planted or in a container, it needs good drainage.

Pinkish-white flowers of showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa).
Flowers of Showy Milkweed — Asclepias speciosa Torr. observed in Canada by markeambard (licensed under CC0 1.0)

Facts about Showy Milkweed

  • Native to Ohio: No, adventive in one county in north (Kartesz 2015)
  • Native to Allen County: No
  • Natural Habitat: roadsides, fields and woodlands
  • Height: 1 ft (0.3 m) to 3 ft (0.9 m)
  • Flower Color: purple to pink
  • Flowering Period: April to June
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9

Gardening with Showy Milkweed

9. Sullivant’s Milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii), a Milkweed for Medium to Dry Soils

Sullivant’s milkweed has deep roots that are adapted for living on the prairie, giving its alternative name of Prairie Milkweed. Soils for this plant should be medium to somewhat dry and well-drained, but it can handle some wetness. The soils should also be relatively undisturbed. Like a number of other milkweeds, seeds can be started in the winter.

Plant of sullivant's milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii) with pink flowers.
Plant of Sullivant’s Milkweed — Asclepias sullivantii Engelm. ex A.Gray observed in United States of America by Nancy Navarre (licensed under CC0 1.0)

Facts about Sullivant’s Milkweed

  • Native to Ohio: Yes, central and northwestern counties (Kartesz 2015)
  • Native to Allen County: No
  • Natural Habitat: prairies, meadows, roadsides, and railroads
  • Height: 2 ft (0.6 m) to 5 ft (1.5 m)
  • Flower Color: purple to pink
  • Flowering Period: June to July
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-7

Gardening with Sullivant’s Milkweed

10. Common Weed (Asclepias syriaca), a Milkweed for all Conditions

Common milkweed is a medium large milkweed that can pretty much grow in any condition with sun. In a garden, it needs space to spread out since it has rhizomes. Oftentimes it will appear in other places where it was originally not planted.

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) with a Tiger Swallowtail.
Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) with E. Tiger Swallowtail — Robert Coxe, Image

Facts about Common Milkweed

  • Native to Ohio: Yes, throughout (Kartesz 2015)
  • Native to Allen County: Yes
  • Natural Habitat: fields, pastures, and roadsides
  • Height: up to 6 ft (1.8 m)
  • Flower Color: pink, greenish-purple, greenish-white to white
  • Flowering Period: June to August
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9

Gardening with Common Milkweed

11. Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa), a Milkweed for all Conditions

Butterfly weed is one of three milkweeds in the United States that has an orange colored flower and is often used in butterfly gardens. It is also one of two milkweeds that does have milky sap. When planting this species it is important to not over water it.

Orange flowers of butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) in a garden.
Flowers of Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) — Robert Coxe, Image

Facts about Butterfly Weed

  • Native to Ohio: Yes, throughout (Kartesz 2015)
  • Native to Allen County: Yes
  • Natural Habitat: fields, roadsides, and open woods
  • Height: 1 ft (0.3 m) to 3 ft (0.9 m)
  • Flower Color: orange
  • Flowering Period: June to October
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9

Gardening with Butterfly Weed

12. Red-ring Milkweed (Asclepias variegata), a Milkweed for Medium to Dry Sandy Soils

This milkweed thrives in average garden soils, but can handle dry or moist soil, if needed. Just do not let the soil dry out. This plant is best started in the winter as seed and then planted in the spring in part-sun to light-shade.

Close-up of white flowers of red ring milkweed (Asclepias variegata).
Flowers of Red-ring Milkweed (Asclepias variegata) — Masebrock, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Facts about Red-ring Milkweed

  • Native to Ohio: Yes, rare in southern counties and one county in northeast (Kartesz 2015)
  • Native to Allen County: No
  • Natural Habitat: open disturbed areas such as thickets and roadsides
  • Height: 1 ft (0.3 m) to 3 ft (0.9 m)
  • Flower Color: white with a ring of red or purple at base
  • Flowering Period: May to July
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9

Gardening with Red-ring Milkweed

13. Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata), a Milkweed for Medium to Dry Soils

Whorled milkweed has a small stature and is best planted on edges where it can get the most sun. With its thin leaves it can add an interesting texture to the garden. Smaller individuals may possibly be planted in containers.

Close-up of white flowers of whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata).
Flowers of Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata) — Joshua Mayer (wackybadger), CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Facts about Whorled Milkweed

  • Native to Ohio: Yes, central and northwestern counties (Kartesz 2015)
  • Native to Allen County: No
  • Natural Habitat: meadows and fields
  • Height: 1 ft (0.3 m) to 3 ft (0.9 m)
  • Flower Color: green to white
  • Flowering Period: May to September
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9

Gardening with Whorled Milkweed

14. Green Comet Milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora), a Milkweed for Medium to Dry Soils

Green comet milkweed is a small to medium sized milkweed with a large taproot that can handle drier soils. Having an earlier flowering time than most milkweeds it is one of the first milkweeds to die back in the fall in Ohio.

Plant of green comet milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora).
Green Comet Milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora) — Matt Lavin from Bozeman, Montana, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Facts about Green Comet Milkweed

  • Native to Ohio: Yes, central and eastern counties (Kartesz 2015)
  • Native to Allen County: No
  • Natural Habitat: meadows and fields
  • Height: 1 ft (0.3 m)to 3 ft (0.9 m)
  • Flower Color: green when young, becoming yellow-green to purple-green with age
  • Flowering Period: July to August
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9

Gardening with Green Comet Milkweed

15. Green Milkweed (Asclepias viridis), a Milkweed for Medium to Dry Soils that have a high pH

Green milkweed is a small milkweed with a large taproot allowing it to handle dry soils. It needs to planted in full sun and whichever soil it is in should be well-drained..

Plant of green milkweed (Asclepias viridis).
Green Milkweed — Asclepias viridis Walter observed in United States of America by Diana Foreman (licensed under CC0 1.0)

Facts about Green Milkweed

  • Native to Ohio: Yes, south-central counties (Kartesz 2015)
  • Native to Allen County: No
  • Natural Habitat: prairies, dry hillsides, roadsides (Allison 1995, Lathrop 1958, Whisenant 1981), pasture (Nelson and Harsley 2010), pine barrens (Dee and Palmer 2017), calcareous areas (Weakley 2022).
  • Height: 0.5 ft (0.2 m)to 2 ft (0.6 m)
  • Flower Color: green (Woodson 1954), yellowish-green (Weakley 2022), or white
  • Flowering Period: April to October
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-9

Gardening with Green Milkweed

When selecting your Allen County, OH milkweed, be sure to make sure that it grows in your zone and habitat.

Books where you can find out more about Monarchs and Butterfly Gardening in Allen County, OH

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References for Allen County, OH Milkweeds

  • Allison, James R. 1995. Prairies…in Georgia! They’re for real, as the flora shows. Tipularia 10: 2-8.
  • Dee, Justin R. and Michael W. Palmer. 2017. Annual rings of perennial forbs and mature oaks shows similar effects of climate but inconsistent responses to fore in the Noth American prairie-forest ecotone. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 47: 716-726.
  • Kartesz, J.T. The Biota of North America Program (BONAP). 2015. Taxonomic Data Center. Link to website. Chapel Hill, N.C. [maps generated from Kartesz, J.T. 2015. Floristic Synthesis of North America, Version 1.0. Biota of North America Program (BONAP). (in press)]
  • Lathrop, Earl W. 1958. The Flora and Ecology of the Chatauqua Hills in Kansas. The University of Kansas Science Bulletin 39(4): 97-210.
  • Nelson, A.D. and S. Harsley. 2010. County Records and Major Range Extensions for West Cross Timbers’ Angiosperms from Tarleton State University’s Hunewell Ranch in Erath County, Texas. Texas Journal of Science 62(2): 111-126.
  • Urguhart, Fredrick Albert, Norah Roden Urguhart, and Francis Munger. 1968. Population of Danaus plexippus in Southern California. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 7(4): 169-181.
  • Weakley, A.S. and the Southeastern Flora Team. 2022. Flora of the Southeastern United States. University of North Carolina Herbarium , North Carolina Botanical Garden.
  • Whisenant, S.G. 1981. The Vascular Flora of McCullough County, Texas. Texas Journal of Science 33(2,3,4): 197-220.
  • Woodson, Robert E. 1954. The North American Species of Asclepias L. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 41: 1-211.
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Robert Coxe

Robert Coxe

Robert Coxe is a professional ecologist and botanist who has worked as the State Ecologist of Delaware and as an ecologist for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. He is also a former Past-President of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science. He currently is an innkeeper at McMullen House Bed & Breakfast LLC and a web designer and owner for Silphium Design LLC.

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