Skip to main content
giant milkweed

Giant Milkweed – A Big Milkweed for Monarch Caterpillars

Milkweed leaves

Notice the fuzz on the giant milkweed leaves. Photo: Tia Silvasy UF/IFAS

Giant Milkweed aka Crown Flower

Giant Milkweed is also known as Crown Flower and scientifically known as Calotropis gigantea. It is native to Asia and tropical Africa. It is a perennial shrub that grows in tropical and subtropical areas to 15’ tall and 15′ wide. The plant is an irregular grower with large hairy leaves and requires regular pruning to look properly shaped.

Giant milkweed whole plant

The giant milkweed can grow up to 15′. Photo: Tia Silvasy UF/IFAS

Another Milkweed for Monarchs

Like all milkweeds, the giant milkweed has milky sap and is a larval host plant for butterflies. The flowers can be purple or white and are five-pointed in shape and look like little crowns. The large sturdy flowers are pollinated by bees and butterflies and are used in making Hawaiian lei. The monarch butterfly uses this milkweed species as a larval host plant along with many other milkweed species in Central Florida.

Giant milkweed flowers

Giant milkweed flowers are crown shaped and can be white or purple. Photo: Tia Silvasy UF/IFAS

A Hardy Milkweed Plant

Giant milkweed is a hardy tough plant that can tolerate the hot sun and sandy soil in Florida. It is also drought-tolerant and has few pest or disease problems. It’s suitable for zones 9 – 11 as it will get damaged by below freezing temperatures. Use giant milkweed as a specimen plant in your Florida-Friendly Landscape. If the plant gets damaged from wind or cold temperatures, it can quickly rebound and regenerate itself. It’s a very beautiful plant and also propagates easily from cuttings. Consider adding it to the back layer of your butterfly garden.

Giant milkweed with purple flowers

Giant milkweed with purple flowers. Photo: Tia Silvasy UF/IFAS

More on milkweed from UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions:
https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/ornamentals/milkweed.html

Want to learn more?  Check out horticulture classes offered by UF/IFAS Extension Orange County at www.ocextension.eventbrite.com.  Follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/GardenFlorida/, Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/oc_extension/ and visit our website at https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/orange/home-lawns-landscapes-and-gardens/florida-friendly-landscaping/.