Attract Butterflies, Bees, And Birds with this Pollinator!
The Calotropis Gigantea is native to mostly tropical regions throughout Africa and Asia. Best grown in zones 11 and 12, it prefers to have full sun and is actually highly drought tolerant, so you don’t need to worry about watering your Giant Milkweed everyday.
This shrub tends to grow up to 15 feet total if left on its own, though it can be trimmed to some smaller sizes. What makes it a great hedge for your property or the edge of your garden is more than the green leaves and stems but actually the interesting flowers that grow seasonally.
The flowers on this plant, also called a Giant Milkweed, are actually waxy and come in light purple and white colors that are very unique. In fact, they’re even used in floral arrangements in some parts of the world because of the look and the fact that they last a long time.
Some use an extract from the flowers and the leaves for their hypoglycemic effects and some use them for funeral decorations. They’ve even been used for shrines to the Lord Shiva and the fibers have been used for things like rope, nets, sewing, stuffing and more. In all, there are numerous different purposes for his plant, however it’s important to be careful around it as well.
There have been some uses that were not as mundane or healthy, such as using it as an arrow poison because it can be toxic. For others, it’s an ideal medicine, having been used in Indian folk medicine for treating asthma and even liver diseases. Some have also treated arthritis, cancer, snake bites, nausea and vomiting, among others, but there is little research on these at this point.
The Calotropis Gigantea’s leaves make a the perfect place for caterpillars to pupate on. The giant milkweed makes a great attractant for butterflies to flock to in your garden as it is considered a butterfly magnet. Butterflies such as Monarch, Queen, and Soldier Butterflies tend to use the giant milkweed as a host plant. This lovely plant is also attractive to bees and birds as well and can be a great addition to your garden to attract those much need pollinators!
Caring for your Giant Milkweed
To grow and maintain a healthy Giant Milkweed plant, there are several key factors to consider, such as proper planting location, soil conditions, watering, pruning, and pest control.
Giant Milkweed plants thrive in full sun to partial shade, but they do best when receiving at least six hours of sunlight per day. Make sure to choose a planting location that provides ample sun exposure to ensure optimal growth and flowering.
Giant Milkweed is quite adaptable when it comes to soil types. It can grow in sandy, loamy, and clay soils, as long as they are well-draining. However, it prefers a slightly sandy or loamy soil that allows for better drainage and aeration. Calotropis gigantea has a broad tolerance for soil pH levels, ranging from slightly acidic (6.0) to slightly alkaline (8.0). Ideally, aim for a neutral pH of around 6.5 to 7.5 for the best growth.
Giant Milkweed is moderately drought-tolerant once established, but it prefers consistent moisture during its active growing season. Water young plants regularly, keeping the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. As the plant matures, you can reduce the frequency of watering, allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings. In general, it is better to underwater than overwater Calotropis gigantea, as the plant is more susceptible to root rot in waterlogged soil.
Giant Milkweed can be propagated from seeds or stem cuttings. If using seeds, they should be soaked in warm water for 24 hours before sowing. Sow the seeds in a well-draining seed mix, covering them with a thin layer of soil. Keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate, which usually takes 2 to 3 weeks. Once the seedlings have developed a few leaves, they can be transplanted into the garden.
For stem cuttings, take a 6 to 8-inch long cutting from a healthy, mature plant, ensuring it has at least one leaf node. Remove the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting and allow it to air dry for a day to form a callus. Then, place the cutting in well-draining soil, keeping it moist until roots develop, typically in 3 to 4 weeks.