Asclepias exaltata

Poke Milkweed



Bare Root Plants
Out of Stock

3 Pack
Out of Stock
Tray of 32
Out of Stock

Found in upland woods to rich woodland openings, Poke Milkweed thrives in dappled to full shade. It has oval leaves, growing opposite on stems that can reach five feet, considerably taller than other milkweed species. Large clusters of white to cream, tinted with purple and green, flowers droop elegantly on slender stalks.

The foliage and flowers provide a source of food for many insects including Monarch butterflies, the larvae of the moths the Unexpected Cycnia, and the Delicate Cycnia. Rabbits also enjoy making a snack of the foliage of Poke Milkweed. Though long lived, this species is not aggressive. Poke Milkweed can sometimes hybridize with Common Milkweed when plants are located in very close proximity.

Our experience is, from transplants, this Milkweed species can show stress the first year and may go into dormancy early; yellow, dropping leaves after transplant can mean there is too much light or the soil is too dry, but the plant can adapt and show progress the next year.

Live Plant Shipping Table

Spring Fall Age/Size
Dormant Bare Roots April/May October 1-2 Years
Potted 3-Packs May/June N/A 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep pots
Potted Tray of 32 May/June N/A 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep pots

Asclepias exaltata - Poke Milkweed

Map Key

Present in state
Present but introduced in county
Present and native in county; not rare
Not present in state
Present and native in county; rare
Species extirpated (historic)
State or county listed as noxious
Present in state; exotic

This map shows the native and introduced (adventive) range of this species. Given appropriate habitat and climate, native plants can be grown outside their range.

6 Questions asked on Asclepias exaltata

Hi, will the plugs flower this growing season?
HI Mike. We can never guarantee a root or pot received and planted in the spring from us will flower that summer since there are so many variables like weather and where they are planted (sun, soil, surrounding competition, etc.). Overall, Asclepias species are fairly fast growing so usually flower in their 2nd year of growth. The Poke Milkweed plugs that left our greenhouse this spring were started from seed over the winter so are only about 4 months old. Good chance for next year though!
How wide is the spread of this plant? Can I mix and match order?
Thanks for writing, Laura.  Asclepias exaltata may be the least aggressive of the Milkweed species. We have seen natural stands where single stalks have been the sole of their kind. Poke Milkweed’s shade preference groups it with other woodland species that tend to be conservative propagators.  Don’t expect transplants to spread to dominate an area, but a mature plant is tall and somewhat wide so we would suggest planting young plants every 2-3'.  
As of now, we offer Poke Milkweed plants only as dormant bare roots (shipping April-May or Oct.) or as 3.5" pots in 3-packs. The Mix & Match feature is available only for species in our trays of 38. Poke Milkweed is not one of those selections right now, unfortunately.
What is this plant's soil preference? Clay? Loam? Sand?
The natural habitats for Asclepias exaltata - Poke Milkweed consist of woodland openings, rich mesic woodlands, sandy woodlands, upland rocky woodlands, wooded slopes, areas along paths in woodlands, and woodland borders. It will probably thrive best in Loamy soils with rich organic matter, but should also do well in sandy sites with adequate shade and moisture.
What is a good substitute plant for Poke Milkweed? (For residential gardens)
Hi Julia. Good question. Other mid-summer, non-aggressive, taller, shade-tolerant, medium soil plants to grow with, or instead of, Poke Milkweed, would be Sweet Joe Pye Weed, Great Indian Plantain, Black Cohosh, or Flat-topped Aster.
Can I ask where the Asclepias exaltata potted plant stock available in 2023 originates from?
Hi Daniel. The Poke Milkweed grown in our greenhouse this year is from seed originating in one of the following locations: Burnett Co, WI, Clayton Co, IA, or Fayette Co, IA.
Does this plant need support? Thanks!
Hi Nancy. Poke Milkweed generally has a sturdy stem that can support itself. There are some factors that could cause it to lean or flop, though. Overly rich, nutritious soil can cause weak, lanky growth. If sited in an area where it gets buffeted by the wind - or if an aggressive storm blows through - this plant will likely be affected by those conditions.


Growing your own plants from seed is the most economical way to add natives to your home. Before you get started, one of the most important things to know about the seeds of wild plants is that many have built-in dormancy mechanisms that prevent the seed from germinating. In nature, this prevents a population of plants from germinating all at once, before killing frosts, or in times of drought. To propagate native plants, a gardener must break this dormancy before seed will grow.

Each species is different, so be sure to check the GERMINATION CODE listed on the website, in the catalog, or on your seed packet. Then, follow the GERMINATION INSTRUCTIONS prior to planting. Some species don't need any pre-treatment to germinate, but some species have dormancy mechanisms that must be broken before the seed will germinate. Some dormancy can be broken in a few minutes, but some species take months or even years.

Seed dormancy can be broken artificially by prolonged refrigeration of damp seed in the process of cold/moist STRATIFICATION. A less complicated approach is to let nature handle the stratifying through a dormant seeding, sowing seeds on the surface of a weed-free site in late fall or winter. Tucked safely beneath the snow, seeds will be conditioned by weathering to make germination possible in subsequent growing seasons.

To learn more, read our BLOG: How to Germinate Native Seeds

Dormant Bare Root Plants

We dig plants when they are dormant from our outdoor beds and ship them April-May and October. Some species go dormant in the summer and we can ship them July/August. We are among the few still employing this production method, which is labor intensive but plant-friendly. They arrive to you dormant, with little to no top-growth (bare-root), packed in peat moss. They should be planted as soon as possible. Unlike greenhouse-grown plants, bare-root plants can be planted during cold weather or anytime the soil is not frozen. A root photo is included with each species to illustrate the optimal depth and orientation. Planting instructions/care are also included with each order.

Download: Installing Your Bare-Root Plants

Potted Plants

3-packs and trays of 32, 38, or 50 plants leave our Midwest greenhouses based on species readiness (being well-rooted for transit) and order date; Spring shipping is typically early May through June, and Fall shipping is mid-August through September. Potted 3-packs and trays of 38 plugs are started from seed in the winter so are typically 3-4 months old when they ship. Trays of 32/50 plugs are usually overwintered so are 1 year old. Plant tray cells are approximately 2” wide x 5” deep in the trays of 38 and 50, and 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep in the 3-packs and trays of 32; ideal for deep-rooted natives. Full-color tags and planting & care instructions are included with each order.

Download: Planting and Care of Potted Plants

*PLEASE NOTE: we are a mail order nursery and have no retail facilities, but you may pick up your order if prior arrangements are made. Pick up orders are subject to **MN Sales Tax.

Shipping & Handling Charges

SEED $100.00 and under: $5.00
Retail SEED orders over $100.00 ship free!

Custom seed mixes or discounted seed sales over $100, add 5% of the total seed cost
(for orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required)

BARE ROOT and POTTED PLANTS $50.00 and under: $9.00
over $50.00: 18% of the total plant cost. (For orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required.)

TOOLS and BOOKS have the shipping fee included in the cost of the product (within the contiguous US).

**We are required to collect state sales tax in certain states. Your state's eligibility and % will be calculated at checkout. MN State Sales Tax of 7.375% is applied for orders picked up at our MN location. Shipping & handling charges are also subject to the sales tax.

Shipping Season

SEED, TOOLS and BOOKS are sent year-round. Most orders ship within 1-3 business days.

BARE ROOT PLANTS are shipped during optimal transplanting time: Spring (April-May) and Fall (Oct). Some ephemeral species are also available for summer shipping. Since our plants are field-grown, Nature sets the schedule each year as to when our season will begin and end. We fill all orders, on a first-come, first-serve basis, to the best of our ability depending on weather conditions beyond our control.

POTTED PLANTS (Trays of 32/38/50 plugs and 3-packs) typically begin shipping early May and go into June; shipping time is heavily dependent on all the species in your order being well-rooted. If winter-spring greenhouse growing conditions are favorable and all species are well-rooted at once, then we ship by order date (first come, first serve). We are a Midwest greenhouse, and due to the challenges of getting all the species in the Mix & Match and Pre-Designed Garden Kits transit-ready at the same time, we typically can't ship before early May. Earlier shipment requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

*We are unable to ship PLANTS (bare root or potted) outside the contiguous US or to CALIFORNIA due to regulations.


We ship using USPS, UPS and Spee Dee. UPS and Spee Dee are often used for expediting plant orders; they will not deliver to Post Office Box numbers, so please also include your street address if ordering plants. We send tracking numbers to your email address so please include it when you order.



Germination Code
Life Cycle
Sun Exposure
Partial, Shade
Soil Moisture
Medium-Wet, Medium, Medium-Dry
5 feet
Bloom Time
June, July
Bloom Color
Pollinator Favorite: butterflies, moths, bees, wasps, beetles
Deer Resistant
USDA Zones
Plant Spacing
Catalog Code