Calotropis Procera

A Milkweed Tree To Feed Them All

Calotropis procera: Rooster tree, Sodom apple, Rubber bush, Swallow-wort, Milkweed tree

 

Male Monarch Sips nectar from Calotropis procera flowers

Beautiful Boquet of Milkweed

Plant Specs:

  • Perennial: USDA hardiness zones 8a-11 (lows -12.2 °C or 10 °F)
  • Annual in colder zones
  • Full sun to part shade
  • Height: up to 15 feet
  • Spacing: at least 6 feet, 15′ for perennials
  • Flowers: maroon, purple, white
  • Velvety silvery-gray leaves
  • Blooms all season
Monarch Caterpillar dines by beautiful Calotropis procera flowers

Dining Room Centerpiece

Pros:

  • Constant blooms provide monarchs an all season nectar source
  • Large, thick leaves can sustain more caterpillars
  • Caterpillars don’t need to crawl away to pupate
  • Great option for adventurous gardeners looking to try something new
  • Fragrant flowers (unlike its wider known relative Calotropis gigantea)
Monarch caterpillar pupates on Calotropis procera tree branch

Milkweed Tree Convenience

Cons:

  • Not enough data from North America – needs to be monitored for potential problems
  • Prone to aphids like most species…again, keep an eye on your plants.
  • Has been reported to be invasive in India and Africa
  • It’s not native so you’ll need to plant other varieties too (Monarchs will use both native and non-native varieties)
Calotropis rocera milkweed seedlings

Little Trees of Life

Plant Propagation:

    • Start seeds indoors 2 months before final frost
    • Sow seeds directly after final frost in perennial zones
    • Soak seeds in hot water 24 hours before planting
    • Use a for faster germination
  • Propagate from woody cuttings. In annual zones, this also allows you to start the season with larger plants. My plants did not flower in year 1 starting from seeds.
  • Cuttings from soft stems

Calotropis Procera Growing Tips:

Second Year Procera Plant

Overwintered Indoors

  • If you don’t want additional seedlings next spring, simply cut off the seed pods before they pop open or bind them shut with twist ties or rubber bands if you want to collect  milkweed tree seeds. Seeding is less likely to be an issue for those below USDA hardiness zone 8.
Open Milkweed Pod Calotropis Procera

Seeds Of Hope

Pollinator Plus:

Nature photographer Maria Firpi says to keep an eye out for hummingbirds and bees!

This section is a work in progress because there are so few North American “gardening” reports about this milkweed species. If you have experience growing procera, please comment below to shed some light on this mysterious milkweed. (note: this is not Calotropis gigantea (giant milkweed) so please don’t post about that on this page.)

Resources:

1.

Click here for More Milkweed Ideas to Enhance your Monarch Butterfly Garden

You can see more of Maria Firpi’s amazing monarch photography on her blog The Tropical Flowering Zone where there are also full-length photos of the milkweed tree for monarchs. Maria is nature photographer from Puerto Rico and also photographs exotic birds, flora, fauna, and reptiles.
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Comments

  1. Sharon says

    I just received some of these seeds from Hawaii and will let you know how they do! I am in Florida !

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