Monarch Butterfly Plant with Golden Yellow Flowers

Blooming Silky Gold Milkweed

Bright Yellow Flowers
Bright Yellow Flowers | Source

A Monarch Butterfly Plant


Have you ever found brightly colored caterpillars happily chomping away at one of your flower plants? I have and it was quite a surprise. Turns out this plant with beautiful golden yellow flowers was a favorite Monarch butterfly plant. Now, when I first took a cutting from my neighbor’s plant I had no idea that the plant with the pretty bright yellow flowers was a butterfly magnet. I just liked the look of the plant and the flowers.

This particular member of the milkweed family is known as the Silky Gold milkweed. In my

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar on Yellow Milkweed I discuss how the Monarch butterfly larvae eat only milkweed for their sustenance. Across the country the Monarch will find a milkweed plant (there are many varieties out there), sip the nectar out of the flowers, lay a few eggs on the underside of the leaves and then flutter off to find its next meal and larvae host.


Asclepias Milkweed


Asclepias is the genus name given to milkweed. There are over 140 types of milkweed species known. The plant sap or juice is what gives asclepias its common name of milkweed. The sap, which oozes out when the plant is cut or torn, looks like a slightly, thick milk. Of course, it isn’t milk and you should never drink it since it contains things like alkaloids, latex and cardenolides (basically noxious or poisonous compounds that I would not want to ingest).

The Silky Gold milkweed also has a botanical name. It is called the asclepias curassavica. It shares this name with Scarlet Milkweed or Bloodflower, since it a version of the more common Bloodflower. The difference is that Scarlet or Mexican milkweed has yellow flowers coming out of red buds while the Silky Gold milkweed is completely yellow.


The Yellow Flower Milkweed

Original Clump of Flowers
Original Clump of Flowers | Source

Silky Gold Asclepias Propagation


As the yellow buds of the Silky Gold asclepias open, the golden yellow flowers pop out. Once fully open they provide a source of nectar for visiting insects. These include bees and wasps along with a variety of butterflies beside the Monarchs. Like many flowering plants the milkweeds depend on insects for pollination and the sweet offering within the flowers is used to attract these inadvertent pollinators.

While the insect is taking a drink a pollen sack will attach itself to the body or legs. When the insect moves on it well take the pollen sack along and, with a bit of luck, will deposit it on another milkweed plant. In time the flowers will drop off, seeds will develop in a pod, and eventually be released into the air. The seeds have a bit of plant silk attached to them which help them float off the pod in the lightest of breezes, literally scattering on the wind. This is the natural way for the milkweed to reproduce.

You can also take cuttings and re-root them, or dig up some stems with root and transplant them. That is what I did and how I ended up with my own Golden Yellow flowers. I dug up a couple of the smaller plants with a root ball from my neighbor’s much larger bunch of yellow milkweed and moved them over to my flower garden.


Silky Gold Milkweed Haiku


Yellow on tall stem

Green leaf the sunshine collects

Poison runs in veins

Yellow Buds for Silky Gold Flowers

Buds ready to burst into glorious yellow
Buds ready to burst into glorious yellow | Source

Keeping Your Own Yellow Milkweed


If you live in a warm zone you can have these plants year round. In fact, the problem is not in having a live and growing plant but in keeping it from spreading too far. In warmer climes it can become an invasive plant although I haven’t seen that around here in my bit of South Florida. Except for the plants I dug up and transplanted into my garden the only other plant around here is my neighbors – the parent plant.

It is said in the circles of those whose business it is to know that these plants are great for the back of your flower garden and for growing out of planters. The plants will grow tall, about 3 to 4 feet tall according to the pundits. However, my neighbor’s plant is a good foot taller than I am and I stand 5 feet 5 inches, so like all natural things there are exceptions to the rule. Each plant can spread to about 3 foot in width which is why they are recommended to be at the back of the flower garden.

They will branch out and form clusters of stems with flowers at the end. Deadheading will encourage the plant to put out new blooms faster. You can also cut a few stems and use them for cut flower arrangements. If you don’t want the plant to reseed or spread via its seeds then cut the seed pods off when they emerge after the flower dies back. To keep seed for the next year or for controlled planting wait for the pod to mature and then cut it off just before it opens up and spills out the seeds. Then remove the seeds and store them in a safe place or re-plant in your chosen location.

These plants can easily be grown in planters. Use standard soil that retains moisture yet drains well as this Monarch butterfly plant isn’t a swamp loving milkweed. Water the plant as needed. It will tolerate some dryness but keep the cold away. A hard frost will kill this heat loving tropical plant although the root ball may survive and regrow after the frost is gone.


The Asclepias in Photos is Located in South Florida

A markerpompano beach florida -
Pompano Beach, FL, USA
[get directions]

Pods A Plenty

Pods burst out.
Pods burst out. | Source

A week or so after I saw a Monarch butterfly fluttering around the silky gold milkweed, these pods started to sprout. At first there were only one or two visible, perhaps because they were small.

Over the next couple of days they grew longer and more of them became easily recognizable. The pods were almost 2 inches long when I took this picture. They blend in well with the plants long green leaves. At the moment, three of the four plants in my side garden are sprouting pods.


The Pod

Source

A Seed Pod Close Up

As you can see from the photo, the pods of the Silky Gold milkweed plant are rather long and somewhat narrow. This one is just under 3 inches long and was one of the larger pods on the plant the day I took the photo.

It had a nice firm feel to it. Although you could push the pod flesh in a bit, it would spring right back into its original shape.

Not all the pods on the plant were hiding behind the leaves. Fact is most of them stuck upwards away from everything. This makes sense if you think about it. The plant would want the pods up and away so when they opened up the seeds could disperse. The seeds are attached thin strands of material which help them float off into the breeze, almost like tiny parachutes.


Orderly Seeds in a Pod

Source

Seeds are Packed in Rows

I have never seen a parachute being packed but I would imagine that it would take some careful planning to make sure the folds of the chute open up in the correct manner without tangling up.

Looks like the milkweed does the same same thing, on a much more miniature scale. Look how the seeds are lined up inside the pod, in a pair of rows. Actually appear very neat and precise. In-between you can see some of the plant silk peeking through.

This photo was taken in the morning just before I had to get myself moving to get to work. I found it on the plant just as shown, separated from the other half of the pod. I cut if off so I could take the photo, then left it lying on the table and headed out into the morning rush.

An Explosion of Seeds

Source

The Seeds Release

While I was gone off to work, the seeds in the pod released. Perhaps the warmth in the room, the amount of light or just a matter of time was the trigger. No matter the cause when I returned home from work and went to show my girlfriend the neat looking rows of seeds in the pod, I found the exact opposite. Seeds were everywhere!

The good news was that now you can get a good idea of what the seeds look like when they are ready to fly. Check out how each of the seeds is attached to silky strands of white plant material. These strands of lightweight material, parachutes if you will, help the breeze scatter the seeds when they explode out of the pods.

Of course, these couldn't take off in the breeze since they were inside a house. So I collected them as best I could and took them outside. There I tossed them into the wind and watched them float off.

Most of them will not make it. That is the way it is with nature. Produce a bunch and hope some get the chance to sprout. Even those that do sprout will be very lucky to actually grow to maturity. Lawn mowers, chemical herbicides and just folks "pulling up the weeds" lessen the chances even more than what happens naturally.


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What do YOU think? Comments are Welcome! 24 comments

KrisL profile image

KrisL 4 years ago from S. Florida

Thanks. great hub. We live pretty near you in SE Florida and had another southern mildweek, the pretty orange one, eaten right down to the ground by monarch caterpillars.

I kept some seeds, though and I hope to grow some more.


writer20 profile image

writer20 4 years ago from Southern Nevada

Great hub, I have to find out if this plant can take Las Vegas heat and direct sun.

Voted up, beautiful and interesting, Joyce.


Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 4 years ago from Central Florida Author

Thanks KrisL. I hope your plants regenerate. Mine are doing that right now with new leaves and stems coming out everywhere. I expect to have some nice clusters of the Silky Gold milkweed within a month or so, unless of course something else messes them up - this being Florida.


Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 4 years ago from Central Florida Author

Thanks Joyce. I have my yellow milkweed planted where they get sun basically all day. The only time they don't is at night and when it's raining.


shiningirisheyes profile image

shiningirisheyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

These beauties would make a great addition to any garden.

Very creative way to continue your monarch series.


Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 4 years ago from Central Florida Author

Thanks shiningirisheyes. I started out with one re-plant/cutting and now have four along the sunny side of my villa. If they grow like my neighbors they will provide a bit of shade to the wall on that side and lots of food for the next batch of Monarch larvae that come along.


Sinea Pies profile image

Sinea Pies 4 years ago from Northeastern United States

When growing up we had many monarch butterflies in our yard, especially in the fall as they migrated from Canada to South America. Our city seemed to be a stop-off for them. Mom and dad planted milkweeds by our garage and they were covered with these beautiful creatures! Voted up and beautiful, for sure.


Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 4 years ago from Central Florida Author

The caterpillars are voracious eaters of the plant but the beautiful adult Monarch butterflies are worth the raggedy plants they leave behind. The last generation for the year does fly a long way. Thanks for stopping by and taking a look at the article.


unknown spy profile image

unknown spy 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

Wow, they're really beautiful arent they..


Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 4 years ago from Central Florida Author

Thanks unknown spy. They have added a whole new color to my garden. Now I just have to see what other naturally occurring flowers I can find to add to the garden.


grandmapearl profile image

grandmapearl 4 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

Such a beautiful flower! I am glad to learn about this and anything to do with insects, butterflies, bees and birds. I have milkweed plants that spring up in shady areas where other weeds are growing. It is always fun to come across a chyrsalis, and even more fun to see a Monarch! Voted Up, Pinned and Shared.


Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 4 years ago from Central Florida Author

Thanks grandmapearl. Yep, the Silky Gold milkweed is a nice addition to any flower garden, especially Butterfly gardens, with its tall stems and clusters of yellow flowers. Monarch caterpillars like to munch on it but many other insects will sip the nectar from the flowers.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

Interesting article! Such a beautiful flower for such a beautiful butterfly!


mylindaelliott profile image

mylindaelliott 3 years ago from Louisiana

What wonderful information. It combines two of my favorite things butterflies and flowers.


ignugent17 profile image

ignugent17 3 years ago

Very beautiful flower. Thanks for sharing the information about it.


Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 3 years ago from Central Florida Author

Thanks ignugent17 and yes the silky gold milkweed has some lovely flower clusters.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

Very interesting article. Milkweed grew everywhere on the farm where I grew up and I think the flowers were white. I had no idea that the only thing monarchs would eat was milkweed. I knew it was their favorite thing, but didn't realize it was their only food. Great photos and explanations too!


Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 3 years ago from Central Florida Author

There are many different types of milkweed, not all of which are as pretty as the silky gold. We used to play with them when I was a kid in the city by pulling the pods off and blowing the seeds into the wind. Thanks for the comment, Au fait, it is appreciated.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

We have a field of milkweed but ours has purple flowers. I will have to find out if the yellow milkweed will grow here. Enjoyed your hub and voted up and shared.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina

A very informative hub, Angelo, and I love the bright photos. We used to hunt for milkweed pods when we were younger. Thanks for sharing.

UP/U/I and shared on Pinterest.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA

Here in Michigan we only have the milk weeds that put on pink tops. I've always pulled them as weeds, but I suppose I should save a few for the butterflies. Before this, I need know the butterflies liked them. Thanks for the great hub. Voted up.


Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 3 years ago from Central Florida Author

Barbara and everyone. Thanks for the comments. I just had most of my Silky Gold plants fulfill their purpose - dinner for Monarch caterpillars. Had about a dozen munching away and found 2 chrysalis.


Sue High jhighjr@aol.com 13 months ago

thanks for the information. I have been lucky enough to find seeds of the yellow milkweed plant and was able to bring some home with me to Iowa, but need advice on growing them . I need advice on starting them from seed, how, when, and so on . Will they bloom each year so I can save seeds and replant each year ? Do I need to start them indoors each year considering our shorter growing season ? I will be a part off a project next spring to assist in repopulating the Monarch for future generations, and would love to have as many types of milkweed as possible . Any advice will be welcome, thanks, Sue High Marion, Iowa


Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 13 months ago from Central Florida Author

I really don't know since I live in Florida where it is growing season year round. I looked on-line (keyword: mid-western milkweed) and the silky appears to thrive in mid-western prairies. There are a variety of milkweeds that grow naturally in the mid-west and will re-seed and/or regrow in the spring. Do a Google or Yahoo search and see what is available in the area.

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