Watering Milkweed

Milkweed has a reputation for being low maintenance, and while water is necessary for the plant’s survival, it does not require a high level of attention when it comes to water. Established Milkweed plants have medium water needs. New plants need routine watering to settle in, but Milkweed can dry out a bit once established.


How To Tell If Milkweed Needs Watered

Milkweed prefers to dry out some between watering, but there are signs to look for to determine if the plant needs water. Usually, when the plant starts to show signs of being too dry, it is stressed and needs water. Knowing what signs to look for is helpful, but it is best to water before the plant is stressed. The leaves will droop or appear wilted when the plant needs water. The soil may also appear cracked, and it will be dry to the touch.

How Often To Water Milkweed

Milkweed plants need water as soon as they are planted—consistently water during the first growing season when the top couple of inches of soil dry out. The weather and conditions will dictate how quickly the soil dries out but expect to water the plant every few days. Feeling the soil is the best way to gauge the dampness and determine when to water.

Milkweed is native to North America, and once established, the plant will not need water as often as new plants. That is not to say the plant will not need any supplemental water. Established Milkweed plants will need water when the top several inches of soil dry out. While Milkweed can handle dry conditions, water the plant during an extended dry period to ensure it is healthy and continues to bloom.

Milkweed can be overwatered. Too much water may cause root rot, fungus, or mildew. The tips of the leaves may turn yellow, with the discoloration moving up the leaf towards the stem.

Potted Milkweed will need water as often as daily or every couple of days, depending on the weather. Container-grown plants dry out more quickly than those in the ground, so while Milkweed tolerates dry conditions, it will need more frequent water when grown in a pot.

Best Time To Water Milkweed

Since Milkweed plants prefer full sunlight, it is best to water in the morning, so the plant is hydrated when the bright afternoon sun beams down. However, any time a plant is showing signs of dehydration is also a good time to water. Potted plants benefit from an early morning drink, but giving the plant water in the late afternoon or evening can be helpful during a particularly warm day.


How to Water Milkweed

Step 1 - Feel the soil to determine the level of dampness.

Water Milkweed when the top several inches of soil feel dry. Do not water if the soil is wet or damp. 

Step 2 - Deeply water the plant.

Drench the soil to get the roots completely wet.

Step 3 - Water the ground and keep the foliage dry.

Apply water to the base of the plant. Mold or fungus can develop on wet foliage, so keep the leaves dry when possible.

Milkweed Watering Tips

  • Water when the soil is dry.
  • Milkweed does not like to be soggy.
  • Deeply water the plant to establish a robust root system.
  • Potted Milkweed plants need water more often.


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 Author Alison Cotsonas - Published 08-07-2022