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Asclepias subulata

Desert Milkweed /

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Desert milkweed makes a strong architectural statement. Groups of slim, gray-green branches rise 3’ tall and flower with cream-colored blooms. Important larval food plant for both Queens and Monarchs. Plant among rocks along a simulated arroyo, or along any pathway with a desert plant palette.


  • A vital larval food source for Queens and Monarchs
  • Strong nectar source for many native insects
  • Unique form makes it a landscape standout
  • Very drought tolerant
  • Tolerates full sun and reflective heat
  • Tarantula hawks love the nectar

Homeowner Growing and Maintenance Tips

There is normally no pruning to be done, but every few years the plant may be cut to the ground in late winter to renew itself. Fertilizing is not necessary. Use as an accent plant, in the swimming pool area, butterfly garden, cactus or native plant garden. 

3-4 Feet


3-4 Feet

USDA Hardiness Zone 9-11

Native Trivia

Butterflies use their tarsi or "feet" as taste receptors. When they contact sweet liquids such as nectar butterflies extend their proboscis to eat the nectar sensed by the taste receptors.

Characteristics & Attributes

Plan Sub Group
  • Medium to Tall Perennials
  • Filtered Shade
  • Sun
Soil Moisture Preference
  • Average
  • Dry
Attracts Wildlife
  • Butterflies
  • Hummingbirds
Bloom Time
  • Fall
  • Late Spring / Early Summer
  • Late Summer
  • Summer
Critter Resistance
  • Deer Resistant
Habitat Collection
  • Butterfly
Native Habitat
  • Desert
Foliage Color
  • Gray-green
  • Accent
  • Border
  • Container
  • Drought tolerant
  • Naturalizes
  • Rock garden
  • Specimen
Native to
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Nevada