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Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed)

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Technical sheet - Asclepias incarnata
Species Distribution Map: Click to enlarge
Map Color Key © 2013 BONAP

Asclepias incarnata

swamp milkweed

One of the most beautiful of native perennials with clusters of upturned pink flowers in June and July. Much underused in average garden conditions! Attracts butterflies of all kinds. Willow-like leaves are 4-5" long. Occurs in floodplains and wet meadows.

Asclepias incarnata LP50 - 50 per flat Availability
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3-5 Feet


2 Feet


12-18 Inches

Bloom Color


USDA Hardiness Zone 3-9

swamp milkweed Interesting Notes

Asclepias incarnata can be recognized by its clusters of upturned deep pink flowers that bloom in mid-summer. These sit atop an elegant upright, branching stem with smooth willow-like foliage. Its height varies widely depending on soil moisture, soil nutrients and light conditions.

This wetland perennial is broadly distributed across the United States and Canada. Look for it occuring naturally in marshes, swamps, wet meadows and riparian areas.

We've observed that swamp milkweed stays true to its name as an excellent performer in the consistently moist soils of the bioswales and rain garden located in the lowest spots on our property. In our stormwater systems it happily accomodates temporary inundation after major rain events. Like many wetland perennials it will eventually spread rhizamtously to form a colony.

Like other Asclepias species, swamp milkweed is very popular with pollinating insects, attracting a diverse and ample array of butterfly, skipper, fly, wasp and bee species. Even hummingbirds are occasional visitors to its flowers! Its foliage is an important food source not only for the Monarch butterfly but also for the Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle and Large Milkweed Bug.

Asclepias incarnata Growing and Maintenance Tips

Swamp milkweed, true to its name, prefers consistently moist soil, but performs admirably in average, well-drained gardens as well. Full sun is best and some shade is tolerated, though blooming time and color may suffer.

Gather bouquets of Asclepias all summer long; the long stems are wonderful for cutting and are long-lasting. Sear the ends of the cut stems over a flame to stop the milky sap from leaking out.

Good Substitutions

swamp milkweed Asclepias incarnata 'Cinderella'
swamp milkweed Asclepias incarnata 'Ice Ballet'

Key Characteristics & Attributes

Full Sun
Full Sun
Part Sun
Part Sun
Deer Resistant
Deer Resistant
Cut Flower
Cut Flower

Additional Information

Soil Moisture Needs
Green Infrastructure
Bioretention/Rain Garden
Wetland Indicator Status
Obligate Wetland (OBL)
Plug Type
Landscape Plug™
For Animals
Caution: Toxic
Native to North America
Clay Tolerance
Season of Interest (Flowering)
Late Summer
Propagation Type
Open pollinated