How To Grow From Cuttings- Tropical Milkweed Propagation

Milkweed Cuttings Make Plant Propagation A Snip

Though seed starting has its place, I never realized all the unnecessary time I was wasting until I started growing tropical milkweed from cuttings.
How To Grow Milkweed from Cuttings- Asclepias Curassavica All Summer Long
Have Blooms Like This All Summer

While starting seeds indoors always gave me satisfaction of seeing my baby plants magically transform each summer, there were definitely lots of growing pains along the way:

  • Bad seeds can put your garden way behind schedule (or force you to buy plant$)


  • Seedlings can get leggy unless you use anto promote stronger stems


  • Fragile seedlings can die inside


  • Fragile seedlings can die during outdoor transplanting


  • Seedlings can drown, bake, or get blown away


  • Did I mention our  rambunctious four-legged friends?…Oh Deer!
The dramatic difference when you grow from cuttings VS starting tropical milkweed seeds. Learn how to take your own cuttings and never run out of milkweed for your monarch caterpillars again!
Starting Seeds VS Cuttings

While milkweed seeds can do the job, they just don’t measure up to cuttings…especially in the case of annual varieties (for most) like swan milkweed (Gomphocarpus fruticosus), and tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica).

After your first season starting milkweed seeds, you’ve basically won the ‘milkweed lotto’ for life if you take advantage of your mature plants…you won’t even have to pay taxes!

Tropical milkweed varieties are prime species for winter cuttings since they can be overwintered indoors. When trying to propagate native milkweed, it’s easier to take summer cuttings for outdoor fall planting.

Milkweed Cuttings Benefits

  • No pots, no soil, no mess if you keep the cuttings in water
  • Doesn’t require grow lights, window placement will suffice
  • Require minimal care compared to seeds
  • Cuttings will grow, flower, and seed much quicker than seedlings
  • Cuttings are strong, sturdy, and dependable for transplanting
  • Plant cuttings are the gift that keeps giving…100% free!

Check out this quick how to grow from cuttings video to see how much simpler your milkweed prep can be:

Tips to Grow from Cuttings (UPDATED AFTER VIDEO)

A Step by Step Tutorial for Growing Tropical Milkweed from Stem Cuttings. Growing milkweed has never been so easy...and so fast!


  • Root overwintering plants anytime between January and March. Start to grow from cuttings at least one month before planting outside


  • Fill cuttings containers (I use 20oz clear plastic cups) with distilled water (not tap water) because it has a neutral PH level and no additives or elements that could potentially harm developing plants


  • Place plastic wrap over each cup and secure it with a rubber band


  • Use gloves or wash hands thoroughly after handling milkweed to avoid getting milkweed sap in your eyes later. This can cause burning and a few unfortunate souls have even had to go to the emergency room for treatment.


  • Make sure you only take milkweed cuttings from your healthiest plants


  • Take cuttings under water or rinse cut area afterwards to insure water uptake


  • Use a hand pruner or scissors


  • Cut at an angle just below a leaf node (while this is not as important for tropical milkweed, it’s a good habit to get into for taking cuttings in general)


  • Your stem cutting should be roughly 4″ long or 3-5 leaf nodes. You can take multiple cuttings from the same stem.


  • Pinch off all foliage (except the top two leaves). Leaves submerged in water can cause bacteria and give off an unpleasant odor


  • Rinse off each cutting thoroughly with water to remove potential OE spores


  • Pierce the plastic with a small phillips-head screwdriver and then put each cutting through the plastic, except for the top stem and leaves. Give cuttings adequate space from each other for root growth and to avoid rotting




  • Speed Tip 3– Using a cloning machine? We replaced our foam inserts with rockwool cubes because the foam was causing the cuttings to rot at the insertion point. We still use foam to cover the holes where there aren’t any cuttings.


  • Place cuttings in an area away from direct sunlight, but receiving some light. Ours are on a table where they get a couple hours of dappled sunlight every afternoon. This has worked well for root growth.


  • Change cutting water and rinse out container every week to avoid fungus and disease



  • Fall cuttings give you a huge head start and more cuttings to choose from (however, you’ll have to pot the plants indoors after a couple months to prevent rotting)


  • If stems start rotting you can try recutting if rotting has only occurred at the base. Otherwise, discard the rotten apples and start over…

How To Grow Tropical Milkweed Cuttings in Water

A Cloning Bucket can also be used to start milkweed stem cuttings and other butterfly plants. Clone bucket systems will grow roots faster than just submerging cuttings in a glass of water.

So, a few months after starting tropical milkweed from cuttings, what can you expect??

Just a few months after taking tropical milkweed cuttings to start a new patch, the plants have flowered and even started producing milkweed seeds- Grow from Cuttings


  1. Long says

    Hi. Thank you for being so dedicated in keeping us informed of your successes and failures. We are all becoming more knowledgeable thanks to you :-)

    My question: It is Day 25 of planting a few dozen seedlings using the pods/seeds I removed from my Tropical Milkweed plant. In general, they appear healthy.

    I noticed the first true leaves just beginning to emerge from between the cotyledons, but I also noticed a few of the tips of the cotyledons were black. Is this an issue? If so, how do I correct it?

    • says

      Hi Long,

      black leaves could indicate fungus, which can be caused from overwatering. Next time you water, try watering with some 3% hydrogen peroxide mixed in. h202 kills mold, bacteria in soil or on plants (so spray the plants too) and it gives the roots extra oxygen. Use the sick/fungusy chart when mixing the solution:

      Hydrogen peroxide on plants

      • Long says

        Hi Tony – Apologies for my late response. Thank you – I will try that.

        One other question: About 3 weeks ago I wanted to cut down the 2 Tropical Milkweed plants I have based on the article that we should help them migrate by removing food, etc. But as i was going to cut them back I noticed 8-10 Monarch caterpillars, teeny weeny to chunky. So, I didn’t cut it down, and they have been happily munching :-)

        What’s your recommendation on when to cut? Do I just cut and not look to see who’s around? Lol! I looked yesterday and the cycle was starting again with about 2 very small Monarch butterflies. Should I start to learn how to take the few in that I see and raise them inside so I can cut the plants down?

        I’m in Houston and this week it is pleasantly warm. But the temperatures can swing wildly week to week in the fall.

        BTW – I am using your cuttings method on another plant!


  2. says

    Hi Z, you have a year round population in Houston…the migration is pretty much finished for the season.

    It’s still a good idea to cut back milkweed to stop the build up of OE spores. You can stagger the cuttings so there will always be some milkweed available throughout the winter.

  3. Shirish R. Chitnis says

    This plant is considered sacred in Hindu religion.Offered to lord Hanumana. Can you help me by sending cuttings to my address?

  4. Melissa Bruder says

    Hi Tony,

    Thank you for the video on how to do cuttings, I had no idea it was simple (or at least it looks so simple)! Can’t wait to go out and try this this afternoon!

  5. Judy Hubbes says

    I was reading your information on tropical milkweed cuttings and the information on using hydrogen peroxide on plants. Can this be used on tropical milkweed that the leaves have been eaten to where there are leggy stems and only a few leaves at the top. Will the Hydrogen peroxide eliminate what is eating the leaves. I am in Central Florida and still have Monarch caterpillars (limited). I have a lot of Zebra Longwing caterpillars (on passion vine) and Polydamus Swallowtail caterpillars (on Dutchman pipe vine) should the Hydrogen peroxide mixture be used on those vines also. I am desperate to know what could be used on the milkweed to eliminate what is ruining the plants.
    I have taken a lot of cuttings and have some in ground and a lot in water.
    Thank you.

  6. says

    Hi Judy, hydrogen peroxide kills fungus gnat egg/larvae in the soil, but it probably won’t stop whatever is eating your milkweed. Before you look for a solution, I would definitely figure out who the culprit is first…good luck!

    PS…keep in mind insects aren’t the only pests that eat milkweed. Rabbits, mice, and deer can also be potential suspects for milkweed munching.

  7. Maria says

    Hi Tony,
    Thank you for all of the information you are giving us. I have a question about my milkweed plants also. A lot of my leaves on my milkweed plants have black spots. Even some of the stems have the same black spots. There are flowers on these plants as well. Do I need to uproot the plants & purchase new ones or can I save these plants? I’ve searched everywhere to find an answer to this question. It looks like you may be able to actually tell me what to do. I would like to raise more Monarch’s this year but don’t know if these plants are healthy enough to do this. Please help me with my problem. Thank you.

    • says

      Hi Maria, sometimes cutting back affected stems and leaves helps. In continuous growing regions there are more issues with fungus..especially during times of the season when there is excess precipitation. Make sure the plants aren’t being overwatered…good luck!

      • Maria says

        Hi Tony,
        Thank you so much for your help. I am so happy that you responded to me so quickly. I have cut them back to within 6″ from the ground. Hopefully this will work by the time the Monarchs are on their way to south Fla. Yes, it has been raining on a very regular basis. Maybe I should put them under my overhang in the patio until the weather gets back to a more stable condition. If this still doesn’t help my plants I’ll just get new ones in May. lol

        • says

          Hi Maria, I hear a lot of people that have issues with their tropical milkweed in Florida during periods of heavy rain. My understanding is that the plants typically recover, which is why so many people in Florida choose tropical mw over some of the natives. good luck with your plants!

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