About Spider Milkweed: Since it grows most commonly in Texas, this variety of milkweed provides monarch butterflies with a valuable source of nectar on their journey north from Mexico. This native wildflower produces curved green seed pods that gave it the common name of Green Antelopehorn, while the abundant white crab spiders that inhabit its blooms resulted in the name Spider Milkweed. In 1753, eminent botanist Carl Linnaeus gave this plant 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 various medicinal uses. In spite of its highly toxic nature, Spider Milkweed attracts flocks of butterflies; butterflies are immune to the plant’s poison, and actually become rather poisonous themselves as protection from predators.
Spider Milkweed Germination: In late fall, direct sow just below the surface in full sun and well drained soil. This plant also does well in moist soil that drains well. Plant three seeds together every 18-24 inches. Germination will take place in the spring, after the last frost. When the seedlings appear, thin to the strongest plant; seedlings usually do not survive transplanting, since they resent any disturbance of their roots. For spring planting, mix the seeds with moist sand and refrigerate for 30 days before direct sowing.
Growing Spider Milkweed Seeds: Young plants should be watered until they become established; mature plants can tolerate drought but grow best with occasional watering. Though not considered invasive, this plant spreads rapidly and will self seed. The flowers attract many bees and butterflies. Deer and rabbits avoid this plant.
Harvesting Spider Milkweed: This makes a striking cut flower. Cut the stems long, choosing flowers that have just opened. Keep in mind that the milky sap is mildly toxic and can irritate the skin.
Saving Spider Milkweed 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 Spider Milkweed Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Green Antelopehorn, Green Milkweed Duration: Perennial Bloom Time: Early Summer Height: 12-18 inches Spacing: 18-24 inches Light: Full Sun to Part Shade Soil Moisture: Dry to Medium USDA Zone: 5-9 Seeds Per Oz: 4,300 Produces a plant with thick, 6” elongated oval leaves and round clusters of pale green or white flowers with purple centers.