Many people are interested in luring butterflies to their gardens, they are beautiful and fun to watch. To be honest though getting them to come to your garden is as easy as planting zinnias and cosmos. Getting them to be at home in your garden is a different matter. You need to provide not just food, but a place to raise their young. This involves planting host plants, these are native plants that have developed over time with the insect that uses them. Monarch butterflies use asclepias, butterfly weed, common milkweed and swamp milkweed among others. Common milkweed runs rampant in good soil, you need to find a way to contain it if you put it in your garden. Butterfly weed needs dryer soils and lots of sun. Swamp milkweed however, is a lot more versatile, stays in a clump and provides a host plant for Monarch butterflies.
The name suggests it needs a very wet soil. It doesn't, in fact I have it growing in a sandy area that only gets 3 - 4 hours of sun a day. I have also used it on a bank in soil that had a good amount of organics matter but full sun. It is just a wonderful plant.
The leaves are long and thin, bright green and very attractive. The plant generally gets 3 to 4 feet in height. After the bright pink almost iridescent flowers wither, long seed pods form. The seed pods are long and thin and contain the classic milk weed seeds suspended on white parachutes.
The plant looks particularly nice around a pond, which is is natural habitat. I plant it with tall meadow rue, blue flag iris, violets, royal fern, and yellow wood poppy. The tallness of swamp milkweed makes it a stately plant in the the garden. The butterflies come to lay their eggs and use the flowers for nectar, and butterflies are always a nice addition to the garden.
Asclepias incarnata - Swamp milkweed
-An excellent butterfly plant
-The bright pink flowers are stunning
-Upright plant with interesting seed pods
-Height: 2 to 4 feet tall
-Zone: 3 to 8