Balloon Milkweed (Asclepias physocarpa)

Host Plant: Monarch Butterflies

Nectar Plant: other butterflies

Flower Color: pink to white

Growth Habit: Herbaceous perennial that grows to 6 feet tall in Zones 8-10.  It is an annual elsewhere.

Range in North America: Exotic plant from Southern Africa that has been planted in South Carolina and California

Exposure: Full Sun

Hardiness: Zones 8-10, but can be grown elsewhere as an annual

Soil Requirements: moist, but well-drained sandy soil

Bishop’s Balls, Swan Plant, Cotton-bush, Nailhead, Balloon Plant

Balloon milkweed (Asclepias physocarpa), a member of the Apocynaceae (Dogbane Family), is a herbaceous to subshrub perennial (zones 8-10) and annual elsewhere that grows to 6 feet and has pink and white flowers that bloom in the summer.

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Monarch Butterfly on Goldenrod – ALAN SCHMIERER from southeast AZ, USA, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Many other butterflies use this plant as a nectar source.

Balloon milkweed is found in sandy tropical habitats.  It has been planted in South Carolina and California and can be invasive in tropical regions.

The species is the Latin name for bladders (Missouri Botanical Garden), referring to the fruits of the plant.

Balloon Milkweed (Asclepias physocarpa) Links


North Carolina Extension Gardener

Missouri Botanical Garden


The Washington Gardener

I love the bush


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