California Gardens - The Year Round Gardening Site

Asclepias curassavica Red Butterflies * Red Butterflies Butterfly Weed, Tropical Milkweed

Asclepias Red Butterflies is a solid Monarch attractor but it is also one of the tropical milkweeds that have been in the news for the wrong reasons. Asclepias curassavica cultivars have been implicated in being a vector for a protazoan parasite OE that infects Monarch Butterflies. These Milkweed plants that I photographed were munched to nearly bare stalks when I saw them a week later. And there was a plump Monarch caterpillar merrily working on the last of the leaves. Asclepias Red Butterflies will almost always recover from such mistreatment by the Monarchs. The tropical milkweeds dont go dormant as readily as the native species. This allows protazoan populations to build up and continue to infect Monarchs all year. A sharp pair of pruners can break this cycle. Call it artificial dormancy, cut your plants back to about 2" tall removing all foliage once or twice a winter. This way you can enjoy Asclepias Red Butterflies without the guilt of doing harm to the Monarch Butterflies. Several other species in the milkweed family have also been found to be vectors for this OE protazoan as well and should be given the same forced dormancy treatment. Asclepias Red Butterflies has sprays of orange-red flowers with yellow nectaries late Spring to frost. Asclepias Silky Gold is a nector source for the Gray Hairstreak, Hedgerow Hairstreak, Common Buckeye, Northern White Skipper, Mormon Metalmark, Great Purple Hairstreak, Acmon Blue, California Common Ringlet, Giant Swallowtail, and Monarch Butterflies. Plant Asclepias Silky Gold in partial shade to full sun. This butterfly weed can take some drought but will look much better and recover far more readily with a reasonable water diet particularly if it is planted in a sunny location. Asclepias Silky Gold can grow to 3-4 feet tall and wide. The tops will die back with any significant frost but these milkweed plants are potentially root hardy into the teens

Asclepias curassavica Red Butterflies

Orange-Red Flowers and foliage of Asclepias curassavica Red Butterflies the Red ButterfliesButterfly Weed or Tropical Milkweed. High resolution photos are part of our garden image collection.

Tarantula Hawks, Carpenter Bees and Yellow Faced Bumblebees feeding on nectar from Asclepias eriocarpa, Woollypod Milkweed. Milkweeds are important to so much more wildlife beyond butterflies. High resolution videos are part of our garden image collection.

Plants from the old Asclepidacea Family featured on this site. This is now considered a subfamily in the Apocynaceae Family or Dogbane Family. This is relevant because these plants are nectar and caterpillar food for the Monarch Butterflies:
Asclepias angustifolia * Arizona Milkweed
Asclepias californica * California Milkweed
Asclepias cordifolia * Purple Milkweed
Asclepias curassavica * Tropical Milkweed
Asclepias curassavica Red Butterflies * Red Butterflies Tropical Milkweed
Asclepias curassavica Silky Gold * Silky Gold Tropical Milkweed
Asclepias eriocarpa * Woollypod Milkweed, Indian Milkweed, Kotolo Milkweed
Aslepias erosa * Desert Milkweed
Asclepias fascicularis * Narrow Leaf Milkweed
Asclepias linaria * Pine Needle Milkweed
Asclepias speciosa * Showy Milkweed
Asclepias subulata * Rush Milkweed, Skeleton Milkweed
Asclepias tuberosa * Butterfly Weed
Other milkweed relatives:
Araujia sericifera * Bladder Vine, Cruel Vine, Moth Vine
Gomphocarpus fruticosus * Swan Milkweed, Narrow Leaf Cotton Plant
Gomphocarpus physocarpus * Family Jewels, Hairy Balls
Hoya carnosa * Wax Vine