The summer is the primary growing season for Milkweed. Butterflies favor this flowering beauty, which requires very little care. Native Milkweed is herbaceous, and all growth dies after the first frost. Tropical Milkweed can continue to grow in areas with mild fall and winter seasons. Learn how to overwinter Milkweed plants, so they eagerly return each spring.
Protecting Milkweed in Winter
Winter protection is unnecessary for Milkweed plants. Native plants are herbaceous and will go dormant in the winter. Tropical plants will die back in cold regions but may continue to grow in warm areas.
Cutting Back Milkweed For Winter
Milkweed plants should be cut back for winter. Trimming back old growth in cold areas will maintain a tidy appearance. Milkweed plants can support a parasite that can be detrimental to butterfly health, and trimming back tropical Milkweed plants will kill the parasite and protect butterflies. Cutting back tropical Milkweed plants in warm areas will not harm the plant, and new growth will sprout in the spring.
Milkweed Winter Care in Pots
Potted Milkweed plants should be trimmed back in the fall. At the low end of its growing range, potted wildweed can be stored in a protected area, like a garage, shed, or basement. The area does not need to be heated, but keeping the container in a covered area will protect the roots from getting too cold, which could be potentially damaging. The container can be moved outside when the temperatures are consistently warm.
Watering Milkweed in Winter
Milkweed plants only need water when they are actively growing. Plants cut back for the winter do not need water. Tropical Milkweed that continues to grow in warm regions may need water during a dry spell.
Growing Milkweed Indoors
Since Milkweed plants are herbaceous, they do not make good houseplants. While Milkweed is low maintenance when grown outdoors, they are demanding inside. This plant has high light needs and may fail to thrive when grown inside. Many gardeners start seeds indoors before moving established plants outdoors.
Steps To Care For Milkweed in Winter
There are two types of Milkweed plants, and the variety will determine the appropriate winter care. Native Milkweed plants die back after the first frost and do not require much care. Tropical Milkweed plants can survive in warm regions, but the foliage should be cut back in the fall.
Step 1 - Cut back native Milkweed plants to 6 inches tall during the fall
Step 2 - Tropical Milkweed can continue to grow in warm areas, but plants should be cut back in the fall when migratory butterflies pass through the area
Step 3 - Potted plants should be moved to a protected area during the winter
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Author Alison Cotsonas - Published 07-08-2022