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5 Reasons to Grow Antelope Horns Milkweed

Antelope Horns (Asclepias asperula) is a beautiful species of Milkweed with clusters of star-shaped blooms and a unique green flower color. I personally think it is the prettiest Milkweed of all!

Native to the midwestern and southwestern United States, this low-growing plant is a must for butterfly gardens if you live within its native range.

flower clusters on antelopehorn milkweed
The unique star-shaped blooms of Antelope Horns Milkweed.

5 Reasons to Plant Antelope Horns Milkweed

1. It has gorgeous blooms

Milkweed got the short end of the stick when it was named a weed. It is such a misnomer! This green milkweed plant with super unique flowers and bright green leaves can be a standout in your garden.

The bloom period for Antelope Horns starts in early spring and typically lasts through May.

Pale green petals and purple centers of star shaped Green antelope horn milkweed
Green Antelope Horn Milkweed blooms with purple and white star-shaped centers. (Photo source: Canva.com)

2. It is an important host plant for Monarch Butterflies

Monarchs can’t survive without their host plant Milkweed. It is the primary food source for Monarch caterpillars. Monarch butterflies specifically seek out Milkweed plants to lay their eggs on.

An adult butterfly will lay their eggs on Milkweed since that is the plant their caterpillars can eat.
A Monarch caterpillar eating Milkweed leaves. (Photo source: Canva.com)

Milkweed is also an important host plant for Queen butterflies, a species of butterfly that looks very similar to a Monarch.

Antelope Horns is a great choice of Milkweed if you live in Texas like I do. Texas is a key stop on the Monarch’s spring migration, so the more Monarch host plants we can add to our garden the better.

Check out these other great butterfly host plants native to Texas.

3. It is a great butterfly nectar plant

In addition to being a host plant that provides food to butterfly larvae, Antelope Horn Milkweed is also a great nectar plant that provides food to adult butterflies and other pollinators including bumblebees.

Like other species of Milkweeds, its scent is heavenly – one of the ways it attracts pollinators.

4. It is deer resistant

Thanks to their poisonous milky sap and strong taste, Antelope Horns milkweed plants are deer resistant. Milkweed is a great choice if your garden is heavily visited by deer, which is often the case here in Texas.

Be aware that Milkweed can be toxic to wildlife and pets. It can also irritate your skin, so use gloves when handling it.

Looking for other deer-resistant plants? Check out my list of Top 35 Deer Resistant Texas Native Plants.

Antelope horns plant
The Antelope horns plant is low growing, not getting taller than 2 feet.

5. Antelope milkweed is drought tolerant

Asclepias asperula tends to be drought tolerant thanks to its deep tap root. It likes full sun and dry rocky or sandy soils of prairies.

Spider Milkweed – Another Common Name

The common name Antelope Horns comes from the shape of the seed pods that curve like a horn. However, another common name is Spider Milkweed. Apparently, that common name comes from the White Crab Spider that inhabits the flowers, patiently waiting for prey!

While a plant can have multiple common names, it only has one scientific (Latin) name. Its scientific name is Asclepias asperula. It is part of the genus Asclepias – the Milkweed family of plants!

Asclepias asperula vs. Asclepias viridis – two similar species

To add to the naming confusion, there is another species of Milkweed that looks very similar to Asclepias asperula and also goes by the same common names of Spider Milkweed, Antelope Horn Milkweed, as well as Green Milkweed. This species is Asclepias viridis.

The primary way to tell the difference between the two species is by their leaves. Asclepias asperula tends to have long slender leaves, while Asclepias viridis has larger and rounder leaves.

Asclepias viridis - Green Milkweed or Spider Milkweed
Asclepias viridis has larger, more oval leaves compared to Asclepias asperula.

The distribution of the two plants is different in Texas. Asclepias asperula tends to be found in the western half of the state while Asclepias viridis is found in East Texas.

Antelope Horns Milkweed Native Range

The native range of Asclepias asperula extends through parts of the Midwest and Southwestern United States including the state of Texas where I live! Its native range also extends down to Northern Mexico.

States where it is native include:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Kansas
  • Idaho
  • Nebraska
  • New Mexico
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas
  • Utah

Antelope Horn Milkweed Seeds for Sale

Now for the drawback. Antelope Horns Milkweed can be very tricky to find at the nursery. Start by asking your local nursery that specializes in native plants. If they don’t currently carry it, ask them to!

Your best bet is to grow Antelope Horns from seed. You can purchase Asclepias asperula seeds from Native American Seed.

How to Grow Asclepias asperula

Milkweed doesn’t require special potting soil or fertilizers. In fact, it prefers gravelly soil like the rocky soils of the Edwards Plateau where I live.

If you live in a climate with cold winters, you can sow the Asclepias asperula seeds directly into the soil in the fall. Or you can cold stratify the seeds in the refrigerator for a couple months over the winter and sow them after the last frost in the spring.

It is hard to transplant Asclepias asperula because of its large tap root. So if you have some already growing, you are best off letting it be! Instead, try to collect some seeds from the seed pods in the fall.

Antelope horn flowers with pale green petals
Milkweed seeds require cold moist stratification to germinate.

Other Types of Milkweed Native to Texas

Antelope Horns is just one member of the Milkweed family in Texas, and one of over 70 species of Milkweed in the United States!

When possible, avoid Tropical Milkweed in your garden (here is why). Instead, look for some of these great Texas natives:

  • Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
  • Texas Milkweed (Asclepias texana)
  • Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
  • Zizotes Milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides)

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Green antelope horn milkweed

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