I moved from Pennsylvania to Georgia in March 2021. Before moving, there were three common milkweed plants in my yard, and I collected–very literally–thousands of seeds. I didn’t really plan on moving across the entire country, and I planned to plant and give the seeds away for free.
But now I’m in Savannah, Georgia, and I can’t figure out if I should be growing it down here too, I keep getting conflicting answers every time I try to find out. So I figured I’d ask on here, and hopefully someone who knows more about it can explain.
It would be really nice if it were okay to grow it down here, since, again I have literally thousands of seeds, and so far all we’ve been able to do is try to find people up north who want to grow it so we can mail some to them.
I have butterfly (asclepias tuberosa) and swamp milkweed (asclepias incarnata) plants I brought with me in containers, but I have yet to collect any seeds from the butterfly milkweed, and only got a few (very, very large, oddly enough) seeds from my swamp milkweed. And so far I haven’t had any luck finding any wild milkweed plants…
So the question is: should I grow common milkweed as far south as Savanna, Georgia?
I want more milkweed plants that I can give to people to help monarchs and other insects that rely on milkweed (I especially liked common milkweed in Pennsylvania because it always attracted large milkweed bugs, which I thought were adorable), but if it doesn’t naturally grow down here, I don’t want it to escape and cause problems with the ecosystem. I haven’t seen any in the area on iNaturalist, but that doesn’t mean it’s not here, it just means no one on iNaturalist has found them…(there were no small-flower pawpaw observations in Savannah until I learned how to identify them and found a bunch, so no observations definitely does not mean the species isn’t there)
I’m not worried about whether or not my seeds in particular would do well, I’m worried about what kind of impact the species itself would have on the ecosystem, since I can’t figure out if it naturally grows this far south.
[ID: A cropped image of a map of the United States, showing the state of Georgia outlined in yellow, with a red X and arrow marking the location of the city of Savannah, on the far east coast, more than halfway down the state. End ID.]