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37 Texas Milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) to Grow for Monarch Butterflies

List of Texas Milkweeds

Texas Milkweed Species to Include in your Butterfly Garden

There are thirty-seven species of native Texas milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) that can be grown for Monarch Butterflies and other insects. Milkweeds are an important host species for Monarch, Queen, and Soldier Butterflies. The Monarch butterfly in particular uses the cardenolides found in the milky sap of milkweeds to give an unpleasant taste to predators. These plants are also an important nectar source to all insects visiting your pollinator garden.

List of Texas Milkweeds

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

Clasping Milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis): Clasping milkweed is native in the central and eastern counties of Texas (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, this milkweed grows in dry woodlands, prairies, meadows, and roadsides having sandy or gravelly soil. Growing up to 3 feet tall, this plant has greenish-pink, red, brown, to purple flowers that bloom from March to September.

In a Texas butterfly garden, clasping milkweed is hardy in zones 3-9 and can be grown in places with full sun to part-shade having dry sandy soil. Seeds of clasping milkweed can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Plant of clasping milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis) with pink flowers in a wooded area.
Clasping Milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis) with Pinkish Flowers — Mason Brock (Masebrock), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Pinkish flowers of clasping milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis) in a field.
Flowers of Clasping Milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis) — cassi saari, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Reddish-pink flowers of clasping milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis) in a field.
Flowers of Clasping Milkweed — “Asclepias amplexicaulis – Clasping Milkweed” by FritzFlohrReynolds is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

2. Western Sand Milkweed (Asclepias arenaria), a Milkweed for Sandy Soil

Western Sand Milkweed (Ascelpias arenaria): Western sand milkweed is native with a scattered distribution in the central and northern counties of Texas (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, western sand milkweed grows in open places such as fields, pastures, dunes, sandhills, and roadsides. Growing up to 3 feet tall, and has pale-green to greenish-white flowers having a purplish hue that bloom from May to October.

In a Texas butterfly garden, western sand milkweed requires sandy well-drained soil in full sun and is hardy in zones 4-9. Seeds of western sand milkweed can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

White flowers of western sand milkweed (Asclepias arenaria).
Flowers of Western Sand Milkweed — Asclepias arenaria Torr. observed in United States of America by calinsdad (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Plant of western sand milkweed (Asclepias arenaria).
Plant of Western Sand Milkweed with white flowers — by Coastlander is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
White flowers of western sand milkweed (Asclepias arenaria).
Flower Cluster of Western Sand Milkweed — Asclepias arenaria Torr. observed in United States of America by Michelle (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

3. Spider Milkweed (Asclepias asperula), a Milkweed for Dry Soils

Spider Milkweed (Ascelpias asperula): Spider milkweed is native throughout Texas, except for the eastern counties (Kartesz 2015). Spider milkweed has two subspecies, one of which, subspecies capricornu is in Oklahoma. In the wild, spider milkweed is found in dry open habitats such as desert swales and scrub and pastures. Growing from 1 to 3 feet high, the cream-green flowers bloom from April to June and it is hardy in zones 5-9.

In a Texas butterfly garden, spider milkweed requires a full sun exposure with dry and/or rocky soils. Seeds of spider milkweed can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Plant of spider milkweed (Asclepias asperula) with white flowers.
Spider Milkweed (Asclepias asperula) in an open area — Patrick Alexander from Las Cruces, NM, CC0 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Plant of spider milkweed (Asclepias asperula) in a field.
Spider Milkweed (Asclepias asperula) with greenish-white flowers — Mason Brock (Masebrock), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Spider milkweed (Asclepias asperula) with honeybee.
Honeybee on Spider Milkweed (Asclepias asperula) — LevyRat, CC0 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons

4. Bract Milkweed (Asclepias brachystephana), a Milkweed for Dry, Well-drained Soils

Bract Milkweed (Ascelpias brachystephana): Bract milkweed is native in the western counties of Texas (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, bract milkweed is found on dry mesas and disturbed areas with sandy soil. Growing from 0.5 to 2 feet high, it has red, pink, purple to greenish-purple flowers that bloom from April to September.

In a Texas butterfly garden, bract milkweed requires full sun with dry sandy soils and is hardy in zones 6-10.

Plant of bract milkweed (Asclepias brachystephana) with red flowers.
Bract Milkweed with Red Flowers — Patrick Alexander from Las Cruces, NM, CC0 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Red and white flowers of bract milkweed (Asclepias brachystephana) in a desert.
Close-up of Red Flowers of Bract Milkweed (Asclepias brachystephana) — Patrick Alexander from Las Cruces, NM, CC0 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Herbarium specimen of bract milkweed (Asclepias brachystephana).
Herbarium Specimen — Asclepias brachystephana Engelm. ex Torr. collected in United States of America by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

5. Emory’s Milkweed (Asclepias emoryi), a Milkweed for Dry Sandy and Limestone Soils

Emory’s Milkweed (Ascelpias emoryi): Emory’s milkweed is native to the central and southern counties of Texas (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, Emory’s milkweed grows in sandy prairies and disturbed places such as roadsides and railways. Growing from 0.3 to 0.6 feet high, it has greenish-white to greenish-yellow flowers that bloom from April to August.

In a Texas butterfly garden, Emory’s milkweed requires full sun with dry sandy and limestone soils and is hardy in zones 7-10.

Vegetative plant of Emory's milkweed (Asclepias emoryi).
Leaves and Stem of Emory’s Milkweed — Asclepias emoryi (Greene) Tidestr. observed in United States of America by Jo Roberts (licensed under CC BY 4.0)
Close-up of white flower of Emory's milkweed (Asclepias emoryi).
WHite Flower of Emory’s Milkweed — Asclepias emoryi (Greene) Tidestr. observed in United States of America by Jo Roberts (licensed under CC BY 4.0)
Vegetative pllant of emory's milkweed (Asclepis emoryi).
Leaves and Stem of Emory’s Milkweed — Asclepias emoryi (Greene) Tidestr. observed in United States of America by Jo Roberts (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

6. Engelmann’s Milkweed (Asclepias engelmanniana), a Milkweed for Dry Soils

Engelmann’s Milkweed (Ascelpias engelmanniana): This Engelmann’s milkweed is native to throughout Texas except for the southeastern and eastern counties (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, Engelmann’s milkweed is found in dry prairies, canyons and in open woodlands having limestone or sandy soils. Growing from 2 to 5 feet tall, this plant has cream-green flowers that bloom from May to September.

In a Texas butterfly garden, Engelmann’s milkweed requires full sun, dry sandy or limestone soils and is hardy in zones 5-9. Seeds of Engelmann’s milkweed can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Greenish-white flower cluster of engelmann's milkweed (Asclepias engelmanniana).
Flower Cluster of Engelmann’s Milkweed — Asclepias engelmanniana Woodson observed in United States of America by calinsdad (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Plant of Engelmann's milkweed (Asclepias engelmanniana) in an open area.
Engelmann’s Milkweed in an Open Area — Asclepias engelmanniana Woodson observed in United States of America by calinsdad (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Plant of engelmann's milkweed (Asclepias engelmanniana) with flowers.
Englemann’s Milkweed in a Field — Asclepias engelmanniana Woodson observed in United States of America by calinsdad (licensed under CC0 1.0)

7. Nodding Milkweed (Asclepias glaucescens), a Milkweed for Dry Soils

Nodding Milkweed (Ascelpias glaucesens): Nodding milkweed is native to the southwestern counties of Texas (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, nodding milkweed is found in dry woodlands, rocky slopes, creek beds, and old fields. Growing from 0.5 to 4 feet tall, this plant has white to greenish-cream flowers suffused with red or purple. The flowers bloom from June to September.

In a Texas butterfly garden, nodding milkweed requires full sun and dry soil. It is hardy in zones 7-11.

Plant of nodding milkweed (Asclepias glaucescens) with white flowers.
Nodding Milkweed (Asclepias glaucescens) in a lawn — Bodofzt, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Cluster of pinkish flowers of nodding milkweed (Asclepias glaucescens).
Flower Cluster of Nodding Milkweed — Edgar p miller, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Herbarium specimen of nodding milkweed (Asclepias glaucescens).
Herbarium Specimen — Asclepias glaucescens Kunth collected in Mexico by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

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

Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata): Swamp milkweed has two subspecies, ssp. incarnata and ssp. pulchra. The former is native in the center of Texas (hardy in zones 3-9), while the latter is adventive in three counties in Texas (Kartesz 2015). Like the name suggests, in the wild, it is found in wet places including the shores of streams, lakes, ponds, and other wetlands. This is one of the taller milkweeds growing from 3 to 5 feet tall. The flowers, which bloom from July to September are generally a pink to red color, but there is also a white cultivar (pictured below).

In a Texas buttefly garden, swamp milkweed requires full sun to part shade and prefers moist to medium moisture soil, but it can exist in drier soil. Seeds of swamp milkweed can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Pink flowers of swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) from Pennsylvania.
Flowers of Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) — Cbaile19, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) 'Ice Ballet' cultivar.
‘Ice Ballet’ Cultivar of Swamp Milkweed — Photo by and (c)2009 Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man), GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons
Follicles (fruits) of swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) in a garden.
Follicles (fruit) — “Swamp milkweed, rose milkweed, asclepias incarnata, new England native garden” by sapienssolutions is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

9. Dwarf Milkweed (Asclepias involucrata), a Milkweed for Sandy Well-drained Soils

Dwarf Milkweed (Asclepias involucrata): Dwarf milkweed native and rare in the northern counties of Texas. (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, this species grows on prairies with sandy soil. This is one of the shorter milkweeds growing from 0.5 to 1 foot tall. The flowers, which bloom from May to June, are white to green (Singhurst and Hutchins 2015).

In a Texas butterfly garden, dwarf milkweed requires full sun and well-drained sandy soil. This species is rare in a lot of its range and is likely not in the horticultural trade.

Plant of dwarf milkweed (Asclepias involucrata) in a dry area.
Dwarf Milkweed in a Dry Area — “Asclepias involucrata” by aspidoscelis is marked with CC0 1.0.
Cream flowers of dwarf milkweed (Asclepias involucrata).
Flowers of Dwarf Milkweed — “Asclepias involucrata” by aspidoscelis is marked with CC0 1.0.
Herbarium specimen of dwarf milkweed (Asclepias involucrata).
Herbarium Specimen — Asclepias involucrata Engelm. ex Torr. collected in United States of America by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

10. Few-flower Milkweed (Asclepias lanceolata), a Milkweed for Moist to Wet Soils

Few-flower Milkweed (Asclepias lanceolata): Few-flower milkweed is native to the southeastern counties of Texas (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, this species grows on prairies, pine barrens, and the edges or marshes. Growing from 2 to 5 feet tall, this few-flower milkweed has yellow, orange, to red flowers that bloom from May to August.

In a Texas butterfly garden, few-flower milkweed requires full sun to part-shade and loamy soils that are moist to wet. It is hardy in zones 5-11.

Orangish flowers of few-flower milkweed (Asclepias lanceolata).
Orange Flowers of Few-flower Milkweed — Asclepias lanceolata Walter observed in United States of America by Robert Webster (licensed under CC BY SA 4.0)
Plant of few-flower milkweed (Asclepias lanceolata) with orange flowers.
Few-flower Milkweed in a Wetland — Asclepias lanceolata Walter observed in United States of America by John Kees (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Plant of few-flower milkweed (Asclepias lanceolata) in an open area.
Vegetative Plant of Few-flower Milkweed — Asclepias lanceolata Walter observed in United States of America by Jana Miller (licensed under CC0 1.0)

11. Broad-leaf Milkweed (Asclepias latifolia), a Milkweed for Dry Sandy Soils

Broad-leaf Milkweed (Asclepias latifolia): Broad-leaf milkweed is native mostly in the western and northern counties of Texas with a more scattered distribution in the eastern counties (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, broad-leaf milkweed grows in open areas having full sun such as prairies, roadsides, and other right-of-ways. Growing from 1 to 3 feet tall, the greenish to yelllow flowers bloom from May to August.

In a Texas butterfly garden, broad-leaf milkweed is hardy in zones 5-8, and grows best in places having full sun to part-shade with dry sandy soils. Seeds of broad-leaf milkweed can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Plant of broad-leaf milkweed (Asclepias latifolia) in a dry area.
Broad-leaf Milkweed in a Dry Area — Asclepias latifolia (Torr.) Raf. observed in United States of America by Martin Havran (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Close-up of greenish-white flowers of broad-leaf milkweed (Asclepias latifolia).
Greenish-white Flowers — “Broadleaf milkweed (Asclepias latifolia)” by nmsuipm is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Plant of broad-leaf milkweed (Asclepias latifolia) in a field.
Broad-leaf Milkweed in a field — Asclepias latifolia (Torr.) Raf. observed in United States of America by Michael D. Warriner (licensed under CC0 1.0)

12. Slim Milkweed (Asclepias linearis), a Milkweed for Dry Soils

Slim Milkweed (Asclepias linearis): Slim milkweed is native mostly to the southeastern region of Texas (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, slim milkweed grows in open areas having full sun such as dry prairies and wetlands. It is a short milkweed, growing from 0.5 to 2 feet tall, and has greenish-white flowers that bloom from April to October.

In a Texas butterfly garden, slim milkweed is hardy in zones 8-10 and grows best in places having full sun and dry soils. However it can handle wet conditions in gardens.

Plant of slim milkweed (Asclepias linearis) in an open area.
Slim Milkweed in an Open Area — Asclepias linearis Scheele observed in United States of America by alymharmon (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Whitish flower cluster of slim milkweed (Asclepias linearis).
White Flowers of Slim Milkweed — Asclepias linearis Scheele observed in United States of America by Michelle (licensed under CC BY 4.0)
Herbarium specimen of slim milkweed (Asclepias linearis).
Herbarium Specimen — Asclepias linearis Scheele collected in United States of America by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

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

Long-leaf Milkweed (Asclepias longifolia): Long-leaf milkweed is native mainly in the southeastern counties of Texas (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, long-leaf milkweed grows in moist areas and wetlands such as bogs, swamps, wet flatwoods, and moist prairies. Growing from 1 to 2.5 feet tall, the greenish-white flowers bloom from April to July.

In a Texas butterfly garden, long-leaf milkweed requires full sun, moist to wet soils, and is hardy in zones 4-9.

Purple 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)
Yellowish-pink flowers of long-leaf milkweed (Asclepias longifolia).
Yellow Flowers of Long-leaf Milkweed — Public Domain Image
Herbarium specimen of long-leaf milkweed (Asclepias longifolia).
Herbarium Specimen — Asclepias longifolia Michx. collected in United States of America by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

14. Long-hood Milkweed (Asclepias macrotis), a Milkweed for Dry Soils

Long-hood Milkweed (Asclepias macrotis): Long-hood milkweed is native to the western and southwestern counties of Texas (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, long-hood milkweed grows on dry hills and mesas (Woodson 1954) and limestone (Singhurst and Hutchins 2015) having full sun. Growing from 0.3 to 1 foot tall it is among the shortest milkweeds in Texas. The greenish-yellow to yellowish-white flowers bloom from May to October.

In a Texas butterfly garden, long-hood milkweed is hardy in zones 8-10 and requires full sun with dry soils.

Plant of long-hood milkweed (Asclepias macrotis) in rocks.
Long-hood Milkweed in a Dry Area — Asclepias macrotis Torr. observed in United States of America by Craig Martin (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Close-up of flowers of long-hood milkweed (Asclepias macrotis).
White Flowers of Long-hood Milkweed — Asclepias macrotis Torr. observed in United States of America by Craig Martin (licensed under http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/)
Whitish flowers of long-hood milkweed (Asclepias macrotis).
Long-hood Milkweed with White Flowers — Asclepias macrotis Torr. observed in United States of America by Patrick Alexander (licensed under CC0 1.0)

15. Tufted Milkweed (Asclepias nummularia), a Milkweed for Dry Soils

Tufted Milkweed (Asclepias nummularia): Tufted milkweed is native to three southwestern counties of Texas (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, tufted milkweed grows on dry grasslands, rocky places, and woodlands having full sun. Growing from 0.15 to 0.3 foot tall it is the shortest milkweed in Texas and has greenish-white, white, purple to rose flowers that bloom from March to August.

In a Texas butterfly garden setting, tufted milkweed is hardy in zones 8-10 and requires full sun with dry soils.

Plant of tufted milkweed (Asclepias nummularia) with pink flowers.
Tufted Milkweed in a Rocky Area — Asclepias nummularia Torr. observed in United States of America by henrya (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Close-up of Pink flowers of tufted milkweed (Asclepias nummularia).
Pink Flowers of Tufted Milkweed — Asclepias nummularia Torr. observed in United States of America by Patrick Alexander (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Herbarium specimen of tufted milkweed (Asclepias nummularia).
Herbarium Specimen — Asclepias nummularia Torr. collected in United States of America by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

16. Pineland Milkweed (Asclepias obovata), a Milkweed for Well-drained Soils in Sun

Pineland Milkweed (Asclepias obovata): Pineland milkweed is native to the eastern counties and one southern county in Texas (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, pineland milkweed grows, as the name would suggest, on pinelands, but it also can be found on coastal prairies (Singhurst and Hutchins 2015) and on roadsides and fields. Growing from 0.5 to 3 feet tall, this species has greenish-yellow flowers with purplish hoods that bloom from June to October.

In a Texas butterfly garden, pineland milkweed is hardy in zones 7-10 and requires full sun with well-drained soils.

Plant of pineland milkweed (Asclepias obovata) with greenish-yellow flowers.
Pineland Milkweed in a Wooded Area — Asclepias obovata Elliott observed in United States of America by kcthetc1 (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Greenish-yellow flowers of pineland milkweed (Asclepias obovata).
Flowers of Pineland Milkweed — Asclepias obovata Elliott observed in United States of America by kcthetc1 (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Herbarium specimen of pineland milkweed (Asclepias obovata).
Herbarium Specimen — Asclepias obovata Elliott collected in United States of America by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

17. Zizotes Milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides), a Milkweed for Well-drained high pH Soils

Zizotes Milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides): Zizotes milkweed is native throughout Texas, except for the far eastern counties (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, zizotes milkweed grows on rocky areas with limestone having a high pH. On the coast it can grow in the dunes (Singhurst and Hutchins 2015) and it can also be found in open areas such as fields, thickets, and roadsides (Woodson 1954). Growing from 1 to 2 feet tall, this species has white, greenish-white to yellow flowers that bloom from April to November.

In a Texas butterfly garden, zizotes milkweed is hardy in zones 7-9 and requires full sun to partial-shade with mesic to dry well-drained high pH soils.

Close-up of greenish-white flowers of zizotes milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides).
Greenish-white Flowers of Zizotes Milkweed — Patrick Alexander from Las Cruces, NM, CC0 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Plant of zizotes milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides) in a rocky area.
Zizotes Milkweed in a Rocky Area — Patrick Alexander from Las Cruces, NM, CC0 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Close-up of greenish-white flowers of zizotes milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides).
Flowers of Zizotes Milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides) — Patrick Alexander from Las Cruces, NM, CC0 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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

Aquatic Milkweed (Asclepias perennis): Aquatic milkweed is native in the southeastern counties and one county in the east-central area of Texas (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, aquatic milkweed grows on the margins of wetlands such as swamps, alluvial woods, ditches, and marshes. Growing from 1 to 3.5 feet tall, this species has white to pink, purplish-rose or purple flowers that bloom from April to October.

In a Texas butterfly garden, aquatic milkweed is hardy in zones 6-10 and requires full sun to partial-shade with moist soils.

Aquatic milkweed (Asclepias perennis) with white flowers in floodplain forest.
Whitish-pink flowers of Aquatic Milkweed — Asclepias perennis Walter observed in United States of America by Étienne Lacroix-Carignan (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Plant of aquatic milkweed (Asclepias perennis) with white flowers in a wetland.
Aquatic Milkweed in a Wetland — Asclepias perennis Walter observed in United States of America by Jody Shugart (licensed under CC BY 4.0)
Aquatic milkweed (Asclepias perennis) with white flowers in a wetland.
Aquatic Milkweed in a Wetland — Asclepias perennis Walter observed in United States of America by Étienne Lacroix-Carignan (licensed under CC0 1.0)

19. Prostrate Milkweed (Asclepias prostrata), a Milkweed for Medium Soils

Prostrate Milkweed (Asclepias prostrata): Prostrate milkweed is native and rare in three southern counties in Texas (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, prostrate milkweed grows in sandy shrublands. Growing from 1 to 1.5 feet tall, this species has greenish-white to rose colored flowers that bloom from April to October. In 2022, this species was proposed to be listed as federally endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

This plant is rare and proposed for listing as endangered. Gardening is not recommended, but this is a native plant to Texas and is included.

Plant of prostrate milkweed (Asclepias prostrata) in a desert.
Prostrate Milkweed in a Dry Area — Asclepias prostrata W.H.Blackw. observed in United States of America by David Peden (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Yellowish-white flowers of prostrate milkweed (Asclepias prostrata).
Flowers of Prostrate Milkweed (Asclepias prostrata) — Sam Kieschnick, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Herbarium specimen of prostrate milkweed (Asclepias prostrata).
Herbarium Specimen of Prostrate Milkweed (Asclepias prostrata) — Harvard University, Public Domain

20. Low Milkweed (Asclepias pumila), a Milkweed for Dry Soils

Low Milkweed (Asclepias pumila): Low milkweed is native to the northern counties of Texas (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, low milkweed grows in dry open areas having full sun such as prairies. One of the shorter milkweeds, this plant grows from 0.5 to 1.5 feet tall. The flowers are white, greenish-white or yellowish-white with hints of red and bloom from July to September.

In a Texas butterfly garden, low milkweed requires full sun, dry sandy and/or gravelly soils, and is hardy in zones 5-9.

Close-up of white flowers of low milkweed (Asclepias pumila).
White Flowers of Low Milkweed — English: NPS Photo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Plant of low milkweed (Asclepias pumila) with fruits.
Low Milkweed (Asclepias pumila) with follicles — Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Plant of low milkweed (Asclepias pumila) with white flowers.
Low Milkweed (Asclepias pumila) with Flower buds — Jim Pisarowicz, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

21. Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens), a Milkweed for Moist Soils

Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens): Purple milkweed is native to one county in northeastern Texas (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, purple milkweed grows in moist to dry places having full sun to part shade such as swamps, woodlands, meadows, roadsides, and dry fields. Growing up to 6 feet tall, this plant has purple to pink flowers that bloom from May to July.

In a Texas butterfly garden, purple milkweed is hardy in zones 3-8 and requires part shade but can handle full sun. Soils should be moist and well-drained, but dry soil can be tolerated. Seeds of purple milkweed can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Close-up of pinkish-purple flowers of purple milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens).
Pinkish-purple Flowers of Purple Milkweed — Steepcone, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Plants of purple milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens).
Group of Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens) — peganum from Henfield, England, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Green follicle of purple milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens).
Purple Milkweed with Green Follicle — Chris Light, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

22. Red Milkweed (Asclepias rubra), a Milkweed for Wet Soils

Red Milkweed (Asclepias rubra): Red milkweed is native to the eastern and central counties of Texas (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, red milkweed grows in wet open areas such as bogs, wet meadows, and pine barrens (Woodson 1954). Growing from 1 to 3 feet tall, this plant has pink, purple, red to lavender flowers that bloom from May to August.

In a Texas buttefly garden, red milkweed is hardy in zones 6-9 and grows best in places of full sun to part-shade with wet organic soil.

Close-up of pink flowers of red milkweed (Asclepias rubra).
Red Milkweed (Asclepias rubra) with Pink Flowers — peganum from Small Dole, England, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Plant of red milkweed (Asclepias rubra).
Red Milkweed in Flower — “Asclepias rubra” by lauramorganclark is licensed under CC BY 4.0.
Plant of red milkweed (Asclepias rubra) with red flowers.
Red Milkweed (Asclepias rubra) with Flower Buds — peganum from Henfield, England, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

23. Bear Mountain Milkweed (Asclepias scaposa), a Milkweed for High Moisture Soils

Bear Mountain Milkweed (Asclepias scaposa): Bear Mountain milkweed is native to three southwestern counties of Texas (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, bear mountain milkweed grows in shrubland openings that are gravelly, talus slopes (Singhurst and Hutchins 2015), and mountainsides (Woodson 1954). Growing up to 1 foot tall, this plant has rose to purple (Singhurst and Hutchins 2015 and Woodson 1954), to white flowers (Vail 1899) that bloom in April.

In a Texas butterfly garden, bear mountain milkweed is hardy in zones 8-10 and grows best in places of full sun to part-shade with a lot of moisture.

Plant of bear mountain milkweed (Asclepias scaposa) in rocky habitat.
Bear Mountain Milkweed (Asclepias scaposa) in Rocky Area — © Michelle some rights reserved
Herbarium specimen of bear mountain milkweed (Asclepias scaposa).
Bear Mountain Milkweed (Asclepias scaposa) — University of Texas Herbarium – CC0 1.0
Herbarium specimen of bear mountain milkweed (Asclepias scaposa).
Herbarium Specimen — Asclepias scaposa Vail collected in United States of America by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

24. Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa), a Milkweed for Medium to Dry Soils

Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa): Showy milkweed is native to the northern counties of Texas (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, showy milkweed grows in mesic to dry open areas such as roadsides, fields, and woodlands. Growing from 1 to 3 feet tall, this plant has purple to pink flowers that bloom from April to June.

In a Texas butterfly garden, showy milkweed is hardy in zones 3-9 and requires places of full sun having medium to dry well-drained soil. Seeds of showy milkweed can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Pinkish flowers of showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa).
Pink Flower Cluster of Showy Milkweed — Matt Lavin from Bozeman, Montana, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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)
Follicle of showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa).
Follicle (fruit) of Showy Milkweed — John Rusk from Berkeley, CA, United States of America, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

25. Sperry’s Milkweed (Asclepias sperryi), a Milkweed for High pH Soils

Sperry’s Milkweed (Asclepias sperryi): Sperry’s milkweed is native to two southwestern counties Texas (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, Sperry’s milkweed grows in grasslands having limestone (Singhurst and Hutchins 2015) and limestone slopes (Woodson 1954). This milkweed is one of the shortest and grows from 4 inches to 1 foot tall. The greenish-yellow to white flowers bloom from April to August.

In a Texas butterfly garden, Sperry’s milkweed is hardy in zones 7-8 and requires places of full sun to part-shade having high pH soil.

Herbarium specimen of Sperry's milkweed (Asclepias sperryi).
Herbarium Specimen — “03257157.tif” – Asclepias sperryi Woodson collected in Mexico (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Herbarium specimen of Sperry's milkweed (Asclepias sperryi).
Herbarium Specimen of Sperry’s Milkweed (Asclepias sperryi) — Harvard University, Public Domain
Herbarium specimen of Sperry's milkweed (Asclepias sperryi).
Herbarium Specimen — Asclepias sperryi Woodson collected in United States of America by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

26. Slim-leaf Milkweed (Asclepias stenophylla), a Milkweed for Dry Soils

Slim-leaf Milkweed (Asclepias stenophylla): Slim-leaf milkweed is native in scattered counties, except for the south and southwest of Texas (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, slim-leaf milkweed grows in open areas with full sun such as prairies and sandy areas. Growing from 0.5 to 3 feet tall, this milkweed has greenish-white flowers that bloom from June to August.

In a Texas butterfly garden, slim-leaf milkweed is hardy in zones 3-9 and requires full sun and dry sandy or gravelly soils. Seeds of slim-leaf milkweed can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Plant of slim-leaf milkweed (Asclepias stenophylla) in an open area.
Slim-leaf Milkweed in an Open Area — Asclepias stenophylla A.Gray observed in United States of America by Craig Martin (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Close-up of Yellowish flowers of slim-leaf milkweed (Asclepias stenophylla).
Yellow Flowers of Slim-leaf Milkweed — Samuel A. Schmid, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Plant of slim-leaf milkweed (Asclepias stenophylla).
Close-up of Flowers of Slim-leaf Milkweed — Asclepias stenophylla A.Gray observed in United States of America by Craig Martin (licensed under CC0 1.0)

27. Horsetail Milkweed (Asclepias subverticillata),Milkweed for All Soils

Horsetail Milkweed (Asclepias subverticillata): Horsetail milkweed is native mainly in the southwestern counties of Texas with a scattered distribution elsewhere (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, horsetail milkweed grows in open areas with full sun such as rocky plains and flats, roadsides, waste places, and marshes and wet areas. Growing up to 4 feet tall, this milkweed has white to greenish-white flowers that bloom from May to September.

In a Texas butterfly garden, horsetail milkweed is hardy in zones 5-8, requires full sun, and can handle a variety of moisture conditions. Seeds of horsetail milkweed can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Greenish-white flowers of horsetail milkweed (Asclepias subverticillata).
Flowers of Horsetail Milkweed (Asclepias subverticillata) — Patrick Alexander from Las Cruces, NM, CC0 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Plants of horsetail milkweed (Asclepias subverticillata).
Plants of Horsetail Milkweed in a Field — Patrick Alexander from Las Cruces, NM, CC0 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Herbarium specimen of hosrsetail milkweed (Asclepias subverticillata).
Herbarium Specimen — Asclepias subverticillata (Gray) Vail collected in United States of America by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

28. Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), a Milkweed for All Soils

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca): Common milkweed is native throughout Texas, but is scattered in the west (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, common milkweed grows in open areas such as fields, pastures, and roadsides, where there is full sun. One of the taller milkweeds, it can grow up to 6 feet tall and has flowers ranging from pink, greenish-purple, greenish-white, to white that bloom from June to August.

In a Texas butterfly garden, common milkweed is hardy in zones 3-9. Seeds of common milkweed can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Gardenshop.

Flowers of Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), a North Carolina milkweed.
Pink Flowers of Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) — Robert Coxe, Image
Plant of common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) with pink flowers.
Plant of Common Milkweed with Flowers — Cbaile19, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) with eastern tiger swallowtail.
Tiger Swallowtail on Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) — Author Image

29. Texas Milkweed (Asclepias texana), a Milkweed for Well-drained Soils

Texas Milkweed (Asclepias texana): Texas milkweed is native to the southwestern and central counties of the Texas (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, Texas milkweed grows in canyons, arroyos, and hillsides. It can also be in shaded areas (Quillen 1922). Growing from 0.5 to 3 feet tall, it has white flowers bloom from June to August.

In a Texas butterfly garden, Texas milkweed is hardy in zone 6 and requires full sun to part-shade to well-drained soil.

Plant of Texas milkweed (Asclepias texana) in a wooded area.
Texas Milkweed in a wooded area — Asclepias texana A.Heller observed in United States of America by lanechaffin (licensed under CC0 1.0)
White flowers of Texas milkweed (Asclepias texana) in a wooded area.
Flowers of Texas Milkweed (Asclepias texana) — Mason Brock (Masebrock), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Herbarium specimen of Texas milkweed (Asclepias texana).
Herbarium Specimen — Asclepias texana A.Heller collected in Mexico by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

30. Velvetleaf Milkweed (Asclepias tomentosa), a Milkweed for Medium to Dry Sandy Soils

Velvetleaf Milkweed (Asclepias tomentosa): Velvet-leaf milkweed is native to the several counties in the eastern part of Texas (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, velvetleaf milkweed grows in pine woodlands and sandhills. Growing from 2 to 3 feet tall, it has yellow-cream, green flowers that may or may not have a pink to maroon tint. The flowers bloom from April to August.

In a Texas butterfly garden, velvetleaf milkweed is hardy in zones 7-10 and requires full sun in sandy soil that is medium to dry.

Plant of velvetleaf milkweed (Asclepias tomentosa) in a wooded area.
Velvetleaf Milkweed with Green Flowers — Asclepias tomentosa Elliott collected in United States of America (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Greenish-white flowers of velvetleaf milkweed (Asclepias tomentosa).
Flowers of Velvetleaf Milkweed — Asclepias tomentosa Elliott collected in United States of America (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Greenish-white flowers of velvetleaf milkweed (Asclepias tomentosa).
Flower Cluster of Velvetleaf Milkweed — Asclepias tomentosa Elliott observed in United States of America by Justin (licensed under CC0 1.0)

31. Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa), a Milkweed for All Soils

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa): Buttefly Weed is one of the most common for butterfly gardeners on the east coast of the United States. In Texas, subspecies interior of this species grows throughout Texas except for the southern counties (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, butterfly weed grows in open areas with full sun such as fields, roadsides, and open woods. Growing from 1 to 3 feet tall, it has characteristically orange flowers that bloom throughout the summer and sometimes into the autumn.

In a garden setting, butterfly weed is hardy from zones 3-9. Seeds of butterfly weed can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Orange flowers of butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa).
Butterfly Weed with Orange Flowers in McMullen House Garden — Robert Coxe, Image
Monarch butterfly on butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa).
Butterfly Weed with Monarch Butterfly — Laura Perlick, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Follicles of butterfly weed showing seeds.
Follicles of Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) — User:SB_Johnny, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

32. Wheel Milkweed (Asclepias uncialis), a Milkweed for Well-drained Soil

Wheel Milkweed (Asclepias uncialis): Wheel milkweed is native to one county, in the south-central part of Texas (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, wheel milkweed grows in open areas with full sun such as shortgrass prairie, sandstone rocks, and pinyon-pine woodlands. Growing from 1 to 2.5 inches tall, it is the shortest milkweed in Texas. In the spring (March to June), the rose-purple to pink flowers bloom. The flowers are noted for their fragrance (Decker 2006).

In a Texas butterfly garden, wheel milkweed is hardy in zones 6-8. This species is rare in all of the states where it is found and is not in cultivation.

Plant of wheel milkweed (Asclepias uncialis) in a rocky dry area.
Plant of Wheel Milkweed in a dry area — Asclepias uncialis Greene observed in United States of America by Patrick Alexander (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Close-up of pink flowers of wheel milkweed (Asclepias uncialis).
Pink Flowers of Wheel Milkweed — Asclepias uncialis Greene observed in United States of America by Patrick Alexander (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Herbarium specimen of wheel milkweed (Asclepias uncialis).
Herbarium Specimen — Asclepias uncialis Greene collected in United States of America by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

33. Red-Ring Milkweed (Asclepias variegata), a Milkweed for Dry Soils

Red-Ring Milkweed (Asclepias variegata): Red-ring milkweed is native mostly to the eastern part of the state and two counties in the central (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, red-ring milkweed grows in thickets, open woods and roadsides that are dry and rocky/sandy. Growing from 1 to 4 feet tall, it has white flowers with a purple or red ring at the base that bloom from May to July.

In a Texas butterfly garden, red-ring milkweed is hardy in zones 3-9. Seeds of red-ring milkweed can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Close-up of white flowers of red ring milkweed (Asclepias variegata).
White Flowers of Red-ring Milkweed (Asclepias variegata) — Masebrock, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Plant of red ring milkweed (Asclepias variegata) in a wooded area.
Red-ring Milkweed in a wooded area — “Asclepias variegata” by coatlicue is marked with CC0 1.0.
Herbarium specimen of red ring milkweed (Asclepias variegata).
Herbarium Specimen — Asclepias variegata L. collected in United States of America by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

34. Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata), a Milkweed for Medium to Dry Soil

Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata): Whorled milkweed is native mainly in the eastern counties of the state with scattered locations elsewhere (Kartesz 2015). Whorled milkweed has green to white flowers that bloom from May to September. In the wild, like a lot of other milkweeds, it grows in open areas such as meadows and fields, taking advantage of full sun.

In a Texas butterfly garden, whorled milkweed is hardy in zones 3-9, requires full sun to part shade, and medium to dry soil. Seeds of whorled milkweed can be purchased at the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Close-up of white flowers of whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata).
White Flowers of Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata) — Joshua Mayer (wackybadger), CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Leaves of whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata).
Leaves and Stem of Whorled Milkweed — Frank Mayfield (gmayfield10), CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
White flowers of whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata) in an open area.
Whorled Milkweed with white flowers — Mason Brock (Masebrock), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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

Green Comet Milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora): Green comet milkweed is native throughout the state (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, it grows in open areas such as meadows and fields having full sun. Growing up to 3 feet tall, it has flowers that start out green and age to become yellow and purple tinged that bloom from June to August.

In a Texas butterfly garden, green comet milkweed is hardy in zones 3-9, requires full sun to part shade, and medium to dry sandy soil. Seeds of green comet milkweed can be purchased at the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Green flower cluster of green comet milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora).
Flower Cluster of Green Comet Milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora) — Patrick Alexander from Las Cruces, NM, CC0 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Plant of green comet milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora).
Green Comet Milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora) in a field — Matt Lavin from Bozeman, Montana, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Leaves of green comet milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora).
Green Comet Milkweed leaves — Patrick Alexander from Las Cruces, NM, CC0 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons

36. Green Milkweed (Asclepias viridis), A Milkweed for Medium to Dry High pH Soils

Green Milkweed (Asclepias viridis): Green milkweed is native to the eastern half of the state (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, green milkweed grows in open areas such as glades, prairies, roadsides, and pastures where there is full sun. Growing from 0.5 to 2 feet tall, it has green, yellowish-green, or white flowers that bloom from April to October.

In a Texas butterfly garden, green milkweed is hardy in zones 5-9 and requires medium to dry soils having a high pH. Seeds of green milkweed can be purchased at the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Close-up of greenish flowers of green milkweed (Asclepias viridis).
Green Flowers of Green Milkweed (Asclepias viridis) — Barnes Dr Thomas G, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Plant of green milkweed (Asclepias viridis).
Green Milkweed in a field — Asclepias viridis Walter observed in United States of America by John Kees (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Green flower cluster of green milkweed (Asclepias viridis).
Flower Cluster of Green Milkweed — Asclepias viridis Walter observed in United States of America by Alan Prather (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

Additional Texas Milkweed that is Adventive to the State

Adventive Species 1. Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias currasavica), a Milkweed for Places of Disturbance

Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias viridis): Tropical milkweed is adventive to the southeastern and southern counties of Texas (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, tropical milkweed grows in places of disturbance such as roadsides, railroads, and fields, where there is full sun. Growing from 2 to 3 feet tall, it has orange, yellow or red flowers that bloom from June to October, but can bloom for longer periods in warmer locations.

In a Texas butterfly garden, this milkweed is hardy in zones 8-11, requires full sun and well-suited to garden situations. This plant has been introduced to Texas mainly because of the brilliant flowers and it popularity with butterflies.

Close-up of orange and red flowers of tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassivica).
Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) with Orange and Yellow Flowers — Manuspanicker, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Plant of tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) with orange and red flowers.
Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) — karuquebec, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Herbarium specimen of tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica).
Herbarium Specimen — Asclepias curassavica L. collected in United States of America by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

When selecting your Texas milkweed, be sure to make sure it grows in your zone and habitat.

References for Texas Milkweeds

  • Decker, K. 2006. Asclepias uncialis Greene (wheel milkweed): a technical conservation assessment. US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region.
  • 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)]
  • Singhurst, Jason and Ben Hutchins. 2015. Identification of the Milkweeds in Texas. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Texas Parks and Wildlife.
  • Quillen, Ellen Schultz. 1922. 500 Wild Flowers of San Antonio and Vicinity. (San Antonio: self-published).
  • Vail, Anna Murray. 1899. Studies in the Asclepiadaceae – IV. Notes on some old types, with descriptions of new or little known species. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 26: 423-431.
  • 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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