Can swamp milkweed be pruned or pinched back?

minnesotastanJuly 14, 2010

We have enjoyed having Asclepias incarnata in our butterfly garden; it's been a magnet for Monarchs and a variety of bees.

The plants however seem to be designed to grow in the midst of other tall plants/grasses. Ours are about 6 feet tall, and in the absence of any lateral support from other plants they have a tendency to fall over, either from wind or just from the weight of water from the garden sprinkler.

Next year we probably could plan ahead and set up some mechanical support with wire frames or tomato stakes, but we were wondering if these plants can be pinched back early in the spring to keep them at a more reasonable height. If we pruned them when they get to be perhaps 2' tall and before they have buds, would they later bloom at a more manageable height of 3-4' - might they even branch out before blooming?

Has anyone tried this? (If not, we'll test it on a few of the sprouts and report back next summer...)

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runmede(7a Virginia)

If I had Monarch caterpillars, I'd be cutting the milkweed back to feed them. Cut it above a node and it will put out new growth. If you do it early enough, it will flower later in the summer.

I've already pruned my common milkweed, that is after it flowered, I love the scent and the butterflies and other pollinators love the nectar.

Hint: You can also do searches for information. For example, pruning, milkweed.

Here is a link that might be useful: Search on

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 7:57AM
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I can't speak for the Asclepias incarnata but after my husband brush hogs the pastures the Asclepias viridis comes back within a few weeks.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 9:32AM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

My milkweed looked sad this summer, so I cut it back to just above nodes and it is coming back and is looking healthier. I've done this before, and it works. Lots of times people take the cuttings and root them.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 3:06PM
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