Asclepias Viridis

Spider Milkweed for Spring Monarchs

Asclepias viridis Common Names: Green antelope horn, Green antelopehorn, Green milkweed, Spider milkweed

The Nectar Rich Blooms of Asclepias viridis attract many butterflies and beneficial pollinators each spring through early summer. The plant leaves are important caterpillar food to help monarch butterflies get the season off to a flying start...
Spider Milkweed Flowers | © Marion Doss

Asclepias Viridis Plant Specs

  • Perennial Zone: USDA hardiness zones 4b-9 (lows to -31.7 °C or -25 °F)
  • Native Plants for: South Central US (Al, Ar, Fl, Ga, Il, In, Ks, Ky, La, Mo, MS, NE, OH, OK, SC, TN, Tx, WV)
  • Full sun to partial shade for this herbaceous perennial
  • Height: 2 to 3 feet
  • Spacing: 1 to 2 ft
  • Flowers: white, yellowish green with purple hoods accents
  • Leaves: wavy growth habit
  • Blooms spring to early summer: April, May, June, July
  • commonly found in prairies, pastures, by roadsides, ditches, and fields
  • often confused with Asclepias Asperula

Asclepias Viridis Pros

  • Good choice to support early generations of monarch caterpillars
  • Monarch butterflies and other pollinators use as an early nectar source
  • Easy to start from milkweed seeds with proper cold stratification
  • Low growing milkweed can add variety to the butterfly garden
Asclepias viridis is commonly known as spider milkweed. It's native to the south central US and is a popular host and nectar plant for spring monarchs returning from Mexico.
Named after its White Crab Spider Tenant | © Marion Doss

Asclepias Viridis Cons

  • Seeding can be a problem unless you take actions below
  • Prone to aphid pests like most milkweed
  • Rabbits will sometimes mow down plants
  • Does not transplant well because of long taproot
  • Can spread through underground rhizomes

Asclepias Viridis Plant Propagation

  • Sow seeds directly outside in fall- November is a good option for most regions
  • Start seeds indoors 2 months before final frost- seeds must be cold stratified
  • Start Milkweed Seeds Indoors or try water stratification
  • Sow seeds directly after final frost
  • Start from Milkweed Stem Cuttings
  • Winter sowing is a good option if you want to control plant placement
Asclepias viridis (spider milkweed) seeds need a cold moist stratification, which makes them a great option for winter sowing milkweed seeds.
Minnesota Sown

Green Antelopehorn Growing Tips

An Asclepias viridis seedling starts out small its first spring. Find out more about spider milkweed to see if it's a good fit for early monarchs in your region...
First Season Seedling
  • Easy to sow outside directly in fall (winter sowing worked well in our northern climate)
  • Segregate from plants that could be overtaken by an underground rhizome attack. This is not invasive like common milkweed, but still something to consider when planning your garden
  • Cut- At mid season after the blooms have faded, cut some common stems back by about a third. This promotes fresh plant growth and could get you an extra generation of monarchs on the fresh new leaves. Leave some plants uncut if you want to harvest milkweed seeds in fall.
  • Cut II- 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, rubber bands, or organza bags if you want to collect viridis milkweed seeds
Hairstreak Butterflies also seek spring nectar from the blooms of Asclepias viridis

Pollinators Plus

Spider milkweed also attracts bumble bees, eastern tiger swallowtails, hairstreaks, honeybees, milkweed tussock moths, soldiers, queens, and other insects… (If you know of others, please comment below to help others in the community make important milkweed decisions.)

Asclepias Viridis Plants for Sale and Milkweed Seeds

Always purchase seeds and plants by botanical (scientific) name. Asclepias viridis’s common names, including spider milkweed, are also used to refer to other milkweed species:

1. Find Asclepias Viridis Seeds and Plants at Joyful Butterfly

2. More Asclepias Viridis Here

3. Buy Asclepias Viridis Here

4. Find Spider Milkweed on Amazon

30 Milkweed Varieties to consider for your Butterfly Garden

Please post below if you have any questions or comments about growing Asclepias viridis in your garden:
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  1. Hi Tony,
    When I was in Texas in March, I bought a tropical milkweed that was mislabeled as butterflyweed, and left if there for my brother to plant. My mom says the monarchs have stripped it bare, and it has 14 chrysalis on it now. (can you imagine 14 caterpillars on one plant?)

    Anyway, would A. Viridis be the native variety in to look for East Texas? I don’t recall seeing any milkweed when I lived there, but I wasn’t really looking for it. They live far enough north of Houston that the soil is still sandy and acid. (it turns to black clay near Houston)

      1. Thanks. I was actually looking for swamp milkweeds when I saw the tropicals and recognized them. 🙂

        After doing a little research, spider, Texas, fewflower, and swamp milkweed will probably all do okay there and be perennial. I was concerned most of the varieties that will grow in that climate would need caliche (limestone) or clay soil.

  2. I successfully transplanted some of these plants because of county spraying and farmers cutting. My question is, can I root more plants from cuttings? They are getting pretty tall, and would like to cut back and plant some more. Is this possible? I know the tropical variety does well from cuttings. Thank you!

    1. Hi Deborah, I’ve never tried rooting this species before and can’t recall ever talking to anyone about this. Hopefully someone else will chime in…

  3. Excellent work, as always Tony!

    “Segregate from plants that could be overtaken by an underground rhizome attack.”

    I have several first-year Spiders started and was intending to put Purple Milkweed starts in the same bed next year. Does any of your experience or knowledge lead to a conclusion that this is a faulty plan? I have a separate spot in mind for a colony of Common’s, but was hoping that the Spiders and Purples could get along well enough to have them in my most conspicuous, and easiest to access, viewing spot.

    I’d also like to get ahold of some Swamp seeds to start sometime down the road; would these guys get along with the Spiders and Purples?

    As always, thanks for the good work that you do! Best…Mitch

    1. Hi Mitch, incarnata doesn’t spread by underground rhizomes like the others do. In my northern experience, purple and spider don’t grow too vigorously, but you would have to test in your region…good luck!

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