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Asclepias cancellata

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(Wild Cotton) From the winter rainfall area of southern Africa, this shrubby and unusual Milkweed is especially common in the Western Cape region.  An especially tough plant, we have noted that the Monarch larvae that migrate through our area seem to prefer this over all other species.

Price: $10.50
Out of stock
Common name
This is the non-scientific name used for a plant. A plant may have several common names, depending on the gardener's location. To further confuse the matter, a common name may be shared by several completely different plants. At Flowers by the Sea, we rely on the scientific name to identify our plants and avoid confusion.
Wild Cotton
USDA Zones
The U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones indicate the temperature zones where a plant is likely to thrive. It is determined by the average annual winter minimum temperature. Actual winter temperatures may be higher or lower than the average.
8 -11
Size (h/w/fh)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones indicate the temperature zones where a plant is likely to thrive. It is determined by the average annual winter minimum temperature. Actual winter temperatures may be higher or lower than the average.
48"/48"/48"
Exposure
This is the average amount of sunlight that a plant needs to thrive. Generally, full sun exposure is 6 or more hours of direct sun daily while partial shade is less than 4 hours of sun or dappled shade all day. Plants may tolerate more sunlight in cooler climates and need afternoon shade in extremely hot climates.
Full sun
Soil type
This is the kind of soil that a plant needs to thrive. Most plants require a well-drained soil that allows the water to soak into the soil without becoming soggy. Sandy and clay soils can be improved by digging in compost to improve drainage.
Well drained
Water needs
Plants have specific water requirements. Water loving means the plant needs regular watering to keep the soil moist. Average generally indicates applying 1 inch of water per week, or watering when the soil is dry to a depth of 3 to 4 inches. One inch of water is equal to 5 gallons per square yard of soil surface.
Water loving
Pot size
This is the size of the pot your plant will arrive in.
3 1/2 inch deep pot
Container plant?
"Yes" indicates that this plant can be successfully grown as a container plant.
Yes
Hummingbird plant? Yes
Synonym Gomphocarpus cancellatus
Details
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Good Companions

(Wild Cotton) From the winter rainfall area of southern Africa, this shrubby and unusual Milkweed is especially common in the Western Cape region.  An especially tough plant, we have noted that the Monarch larvae that migrate through our area seem to prefer this over all other species.

The endangered Monarch butterfly is particularly drawn to the milkweed family ( Asclepiadaceae), which includes this plant.

Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweeds, because those are the only plants their caterpillars will eat. The roughness of fuzzy milkweed foliage makes it easier for eggs and chrysalises to cling to the plants. Monarch caterpillars consume powerful chemicals in the leaves protecting them as babies and adults against predators for whom the chemicals are toxic. Perhaps it is these chemicals that make deer avoid the plant.

This particular milkweed is a shrubby perennial in USDA zones where winter temperatures are warmer. In zones with colder winters, it works well as a bedding plant. When grown as an annual, Wild Cotton can be cut back in late autumn and moved indoors to overwinter. But don't forget to reduce watering and place it in a cool, but sunny location.

Unlike Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), this species doesn't have a taproot. This means that it is easier to control the plant's spread.

In the past few years, much has been written about the problems as well as the benefits that Tropical Milkweed species present for Monarch butterflies. Butterflies adore these lush bloomers, which offer plentiful nectar and provide what is becoming scarce -- lodging for Monarch larvae.

However, where these plants persist outdoors during winter, Monarchs may not complete their migration to Mexico. This creates a number of difficulties, including illness for the butterflies. The best way to avoid this problem in warm regions is to cut all species of Tropical Milkweeds to the ground during autumn.