About Blood Flower: In 1753, eminent botanist Carl Linnaeus gave Blood Flower its Latin genus name, Asclepias. Asclepias, the name of the legendary Greek representation of medicine and healing, is especially appropriate since this plant formerly had numerous medicinal uses. At one time, the silk from the seed pods was spun for fabric or used for stuffing pillows; in World War II, school children gathered the silk to provide a cheap filling for soldiers’ life jackets. Commercial attempts to make use of this abundant plant included the manufacture of paper, fabric, lubricant, fuel, and rubber; eventually these became impractical and were abandoned. In the wild, Blood Flower attracts flocks of butterflies and their larvae; butterflies are immune to the plant’s poison, and actually become rather poisonous themselves as protection from predators.
Blood Flower Germination: Direct sow seeds just below the surface of the soil in late fall or early spring. To start seed indoors, sow just below the surface of the soil in a flat 6-8 weeks before the last frost of spring. After the last frost and when the seedlings have grown tall enough to handle safely, plant them 15-18” apart in full sun and rich, well drained soil. This plant tolerates light shade, as well as adapting well to either dry or moist soil. In cooler regions it can be grown as a container plant and brought indoors for the winter, or as an annual.
Growing Blood Flower Seeds: These plants are fairly slow to mature. They tolerate some soil dryness, but grow best with occasional watering. Self seeding may occur, but volunteer plants can easily be transplanted or removed while they are still small. Blood Flower attracts numerous butterflies and hummingbirds, and resists deer. Harmless aphids may infest the foliage, but can be removed by a spray of water from the hose. This plant can be cut back at any time of its growth to produce new foliage or tidy its growth. Mature plants can be divided.
Harvesting Blood Flower: Blood Flower makes a striking cut flower. Cut the stems long, choosing flowers that have just opened. Keep in mind that all parts of this plant are poisonous, and the milky sap can irritate the skin.
Saving Blood Flower Seeds: After the plant finishes flowering, 3-4” narrow pods will form. Be sure to harvest the pods before they split and the silky fluff carries the seeds away on the wind. As soon as the seeds inside the pod ripen to their mature brown color, remove the pods and spread them out to dry. Split open the pods and take out the silky seed material. Remove the fluff from the seeds. Store the seeds in a cool, dry place.
Detailed Blood Flower Info: Origin: Central and South America Other Common Names: Mexican Butterfly Weed, Tropical Milkweed, Bloodflower, Silkweed, Indian Root, Cotton Bush, Sunset Flower, Wild Ipecacuanha Duration: Annual Bloom Time: Summer-Fall Height: 24-36 inches Spacing: 15-18 inches Light: Full Sun Soil Moisture: Medium USDA Zone: 8-12 Seeds Per Oz: 11,000 Produces a bush with glossy green 6” blade-like foliage and clusters of fragrant scarlet and yellow flowers.