Giant milkweed

grouperman941(southwest FL 10)July 20, 2007

I am wondering about anyone's experiences with Giant Milkweed (Calotropis gigantea).

I picked one up at Butterfly World. It is supposed to grow to 10 feet and support over 1000 monarch larvae.

It won't let me hot link, but there is a pic in the gallery of a monarch chowing down.

("Monarch cat")

I have been moving them to this plant around second instar. They eat 1-2 leaves. I have not managed to bring one in to pupate yet, so I do not know how they turn out.

Only one egg has been laid on this plant that I have found.

-Jim L

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I have one of these plants. Really have problems with spider mites on it so I have to make sure to spray it with soapy water routinely.

As far as eggs on it, I have only had a couple in the several years I have had it. I have found a few cats on it from time to time. It sits next to my regular milkweed, which they certainly prefer. I have two cats on it now cause there is absolutely no leaves left on my other milkweed. I never saw these two cats until Wed. and they are about an inch and a half long now, still in the yellow and white instar. I probably will have to bring them in and let them finish off what I have inside my pool screen once the two cats I have in there are finished.

You can take cuttings from this plant pretty easily. It certainly is a different milkweed and other than the spider mites serves as a good backup to the other milkweeds.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 11:34AM
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I raised Monarchs on Calotropis gigantea and had butts lay eggs on it in my backyard. I had it in pots near the A. curassavica. I have since transplanted the stuff to my school since hubby wasn't fond of it (he had problems getting the white powdery stuff in his eyes and this IS a problem!!). I think it is a GREAT food source for caterpillars, particularly if you use it for hand-raising larvae since it is a 'mess-free' plant and the larvae eat the entire thing down.

In Hawaii, this is the plant that the Monarchs utilize. A friend of mine, whom I was speaking with just the other day, remembers from her childhood, HUNDREDS of Monarchs frequenting her neighbor's yard...and now she knows why! She said that the neighbor had an entire hedge of Crownflower on Oahu...

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 11:50AM
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grouperman941(southwest FL 10)


If I don't get the mite problem, I think I'll propagate this one and spread them around the yard. The color and texture really help the garden imo (so far lol).

When we don't have time to 'manage' the milkweed, These seem to be a good way to keep the smaller plants around longer.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 1:36PM
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The blossoms are gorgeous...and make one of my fave leis.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 6:23PM
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grouperman941(southwest FL 10)

A little update -- There are several first instar cats on this plant, so the butterflies are using it.

Also, there were a couple of super-sized newly eclosed butterflies that I think were the cats that fed on these leaves. Can't prove it yet, though.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2007 at 2:30PM
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Have just received some seeds and wondering what is the best way to start this plant...see it every year in HI...and it is always full of cats! Thank you!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2007 at 2:13PM
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