Asclepias incarnata, Rose (Swamp) Milkweed
|Rose Milkweed, Asclepias incarnata, and many pollinators|
There are milkweeds and there are garden-friendly milkweeds. Swamp Milkweed, unnecessarily renamed Rose Milkweed, is definitively one of the garden-friendly milkweeds. It doesn't require a swamp, is slender, upright, with nice color, stays within bounds, and is attractive to pollinators and monarch caterpillars.
I've found that Monarch caterpillars prefer Swamp over Common Milkweed, most days of the week, as do the hairy black and yellow Tussock Moth caterpillars. Either can devour the tender leaves of Swamp Milkweed, but do not worry. As the caterpillars move on to the mature phase, Swamp Milkweed will send new shoots up from the leaf axils to provide flowers for a migrating hoard of Monarchs.
Swamp Milkweed does prefer moisture. I had planted some in a woodland edge garden that was doing great, until the rain stopped two years ago. It hasn't come back (the rain or the milkweed). As our climate swings wildly from wet to dry, you'll want to take stock of the truly moist locations and those that are moist only because we got a lot of rain one summer. Uplands and sunny, south-facing slopes, tend to be drier where lowlands, depressions, and always shady places, trend towards moist. If all you have is a plain old yard, a gutter-fed rain garden is a swell reason to practice your shovel skills in the art of landscape cut and fill. Pro-tip: steer that gutter rain away from your house and the neighbors.
Blooms: rose-pink, late June into August
Height: 4 feet
Conditions: sun to pt sun, wet to moist-medium