Asked September 7, 2015, 8:02 AM EDT

I live in Uniontown, PA, and have a trailer with not-so-good soil, but I am wondering about milkweed and if I can grow some. I don't know much about gardening, but wondering (1) where I can get milkweed, (2) what kind would I get for this area, and (3) how hard or easy is it to grow? Thank you. Cindi Waters

Fayette County Pennsylvania master gardener program butterfly gardening milkweed

2 Responses

Common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca L., grows in roadside ditches and on disturbed land. Here is an excerpt from the USDA Plant Guide Milkweed.

"Common milkweed is easily propagated by both seed and rhizome cuttings. Both seedlings and cuttings will usually bloom in their second year, although cuttings will occasionally bloom during their first year. Seeds and plants are available from many nurseries. Common milkweed increases by underground shoots and can be invasive. It is ideal in semi dry places where it can spread without presenting problems for other ornamental species."

There are organizations online associated with saving the monarch butterfly that either give seeds for free, or for a donation. If you search, you will easily find them.

I grow a form of ornamental milkweed called butterfly weed Asclepias tuberosa (not to be confused with butterfly bush). This species is for sale at seed stores and is a nice addition to the perennial garden.I've grown it for the last three years, and it really attracts butterflies.

Keep in mind that monarch butterflies are scarce in Pennsylvania, and you may not have any in your garden. In our Master Gardener group in Carbon County, only one member had monarchs this year. We are dependent on the monarchs making it to Texas where another generation is born. It takes several generations to complete the migration that brings them to Pennsylvania..

Thank you very much for your response, I really appreciated it. Helpful, and informative. :-) Cindi