How to Grow Asclepias curassavica Plants in your Garden

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Bloodflower (Mexican Butterfly Weed)

Asclepias curassavica, a type of milkweed commonly known as Tropical Milkweed, Bloodflower, Scarlet Milkweed and Silkweed. It belongs to the Apocynaceae (dogbane) family of plants.

Asclepias curassavica is a lush, hardy, perennial sub-shrub that’s resistant to pests, diseases and hungry deer.

Asclepias curassavica photograph by Malcolm Manners.

It is a bright, charming flower sporting perfumed clusters of orange and yellow blossoms.

Native to South America, it attracts many dazzling pollinators, particularly the endangered Monarch butterfly.

Asclepias curassavica grows easily from seeds, reaches two to three feet (60 to 90 cm) tall and spreads to about one-and-a-half to two feet (45 to 60 cm).

In addition to adorning gardens, the plant looks quite attractive in a mixed border or background setting.

Its blooms from late spring to early autumn. When the blossoms disappear, they are replaced with pods that burst and release seeds with white, feathery tails.

Budding Bloodflower, photograph by Nick Fullerton; CC.

By removing these pods soon after they split, you can extract the seeds for planting before they drift away.

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Bloodflower, Tropical Milkweed

Ideally, Asclepias curassavica seeds should be planted anytime between mid-October and the first freeze.

To ensure that seeds of Tropical milkweed will germinate in springtime, they should be planted under one-quarter inch of soil (7 mm) and watered. Bloodflower plants have a long taproot, so they should be planted in a carefully selected spot.

Asclepias curassavica is a low-maintenance plant. It enjoys full sunlight, light, rich, well-drained soil and moderate watering.

It doesn’t need fertilizer, and is satisfied with once-a-week watering, which should saturate the soil to two to three inches (5 to 8 cm) in depth.

You will need to nip off the top of the plants to create bushier foliage with more blossoms.

Milkweed endures cold conditions through going dormant. By adding three to four inches (8 to 10 cm) of mulch, the soil will then be insulated to shield the plant’s roots from a freezing and thawing cycle.

Asclepias curassavica plant picture
Asclepias curassavica plant botanical picture, image from the Queensland State Archives; CC.

Asclepias curassavica Growing and Care Guide

  • Scientific Name: Asclepias curassavica
  • Common Name: Bloodflower, Mexican Butterfly Weed.
  • Growing Zone: USA: 9 to 11
  • Life Cycle / Plant Type: Indoor Plant, Perennial

Plant Details

  • Plant Height (Inches): 24 to 36
  • Plant Spread (Inches): 12 to 24
  • Time of Bloom: Middle of summer to early autumn
  • Flower Details: Orange, Red, White, Yellow
  • Leaf Foliage: Green
  • Fruit:
  • Growth Form: Upright / erect

Ideal Growing Conditions

  • Best Light Conditions: Full sunlight
  • Rate of Growth: Average pace
  • Suitable Soil Types: Acidic, Clay, Loamy, Neutral, Sandy, Slightly alkaline, Well drained
  • Soil Moisture: Moist

Caring Conditions

  • Care:
  • Level of Maintenance: Low
  • Propagation: Seed, division or basal cuttings
  • How to Prune: Not usually required
  • Pests: Can getglasshouse whiteflyunder glass
  • Diseases: Usually pest free

Further Information

  • Can Attract: Hummingbirds, Butterflies
  • Tolerant of: Deer
  • Best Garden Use: Border, Container, En masse
  • Family: Apocynaceae.
  • Closely Related Species: Adenium, Allamanda, Amsonia, Asclepias, Nerium, Pachypodium, Wrightia, Vinca

  • Miscellaneous: Non-native to North America, Invasive, Naturalizing, Some parts are poisonous, Attracts butterflies, Suitable for cut flowers, Extended bloom season in Zones 9A and above, Attractive flowers / blooms
  • Genus Detail: Asclepias
  • Further Reading and References: Here and Here

Mexican Butterfly Weed
Mexican Butterfly Weed photograph by Forest and Kim Starr; CC.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Asclepias curassavica. You may also enjoy the following growing guides: How to grow Asclepias tuberosa and Vinca minor.