Note: This is the first in a series. Every Tuesday we are going to be examining a plant that attracts butterflies and other beneficial insects.

Swamp milkweed, or Asclepias incarnata, is a beautiful plant with slender, elegant foliage and pink flowers. It is a food source for the monarch butterfly.

What’s good about it

  • The swamp milkweed is a plant that is native to the US and in the right conditions it is very low-maintenance.
  • It is one of the best food sources for monarch butterflies. It attracts other types of butterflies that feed on the nectar as well.
  • It gets tall, generally 4-5 feet tall. This makes it a stunning addition to the back of a border.
  • It thrives in heavy, damp soil due to roots that can handle low-oxygen environments.
  • Flowers are fragrant and attractive. While the flowers are generally pink, white cultivars are also available.
  • The plant makes excellent cut flowers for a vase. Some people also like to use the sculptural pods in flower arrangements as well.
  • Flowers from June- September
  • It’s a perennial, meaning it comes back year after year.
  • It does best in sunny, bright spots.

    What’s bad about it

  • It doesn’t like very dry soil conditions
  • It gets quite large, so it might not be ideal for someone in a small space
  • Susceptible to aphids
  • May not be ideal for small spaces
  • Does not do well in full shade (Partial shade is ok)So there’s the rundown on the hardy and beautiful swamp milkweed. If you have a damp spot in your yard where nothing else grows, swamp milkweed may be the plant for you. If your yard is a little on the dryer side, a layer of mulch around the roots will keep it happy. Swamp milkweed is a great choice for butterfly gardens.