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To help in the monarch's survival, nurseries and seed companies offer many varieties of milkweed with the best of intentions. However, it is important to plant the varieties that are indigenous to your area.

"The tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) is evergreen in mild winter areas which interrupts the natural migratory cycle, leading to disease build-up and winter breeding which are both associated with poorer outcomes for monarchs."  Xerces Society

The general rule is: If you live along the coast, plant nectar plants to fuel monarchs migrating to and from overwintering sites. Plant milkweed 5-10 miles inland - milkweed is not native to the coast (north of Santa Barbara, CA). Monarchs are most successful breeding inland. Plant milkweed 5-10 miles from overwintering grounds to discourage winter breeding. 

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Narrowleaf Milkweed

(Asclepias fascicularis)

The most favored larval monarch host in California. Many branching stems to 3' tall and wide with long narrow leaves. Plentiful fragrant creamy-pink flower clusters at the ends of branches from June to September. Tolerant of drought and any soil type. This plant can spread aggressively so may not be the best choice for a small garden. Grows up to 4,500' elevation.

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Showy Milkweed

(Asclepias speciosa)

Perennial performs well in most gardens. Long lived, growing up to 2' to 4' tall in flower. Plants spread by underground runners. Combines well with native grasses. This particular variety of milkweed appreciates some supplemental water in summer-dry regions. Inflated pods mature in late fall. Plants go completely dormant in winter and do not break dormancy until late spring. Grows up to 3,600' elevation.

Native Milkweed
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