Plants that look like milkweed can be excellent companion plants for these gorgeous butterfly-attracting flowers. Aside from that, you can grow milkweed lookalikes to add some balance if you have plants that also grow small flowers.

Plants That Look Like Milkweed Plant AmericaPlants That Look Like Milkweed Plant America

This article will tell you about 13 blooming plants that can be mistaken for milkweed, so let’s learn more about them. 

List of Plants That Look Like Milkweed

1. Dogbane

Apocynum or dogbane is a plant that people usually mistake for common milkweed, but the first sign that gives it away is that it won’t attract monarch butterflies, although it might appeal to some bees and queen butterflies.

This plant, also known as Indian hemp, grows clusters of white or whitish-green flowers that look very close to antelope horns milkweed, or desert milkweed. 

Dogbane Special Features Plant America

– Growing Conditions

The dogbane plant blooms early in the summer and can grow in different soil conditions. It can tolerate growing in disturbed areas like along railroads and can survive in wet areas like river banks. However, it needs access to full sun to stay healthy. 

– Special Features

This plant gets its nickname from the fact that it’s poisonous to dogs, but it contains a chemical that is used to treat heart diseases. It has attractive oval-shaped leaves that surround the amazingly beautiful flowers. The dogbane plant takes about three years to bloom if grown from seeds and is prone to different pest infestations. If left uncontrolled, it can become invasive. 

2. Endless Summer Hydrangea

Endless Summer is a cold-hardy variety of hydrangea and an excellent choice for your garden if you can’t plant milkweed because it can be too aggressive. It’s a flowering shrub that works for foundation planting and can be used for borders and containers. This plant can survive temperatures as low as -30 degrees Fahrenheit.

– How To Grow It

The Endless Summer hydrangea thrives in organically rich soil, so amending the soil before growing this plant is crucial. You also need to add mulch to keep the soil moist and provide it with more nutrients.

Endless Summer Hydrangea Plant America

It can work for your garden if growing milkweed fails because this plant can tolerate partial sun. Make sure that the soil isn’t soggy to protect your hydrangeas from root rot. Unfortunately, because this variety is a registered trademark, you can’t propagate or grow this plant from seeds; unlike milkweed seeds that you can grow by yourself.

– Description

Endless summer hydrangea blooms come in white, greenish-white, purple, pink, blue, and red shades. The white varieties can be easily mistaken for desert milkweed, and the soil pH level can affect the color of the blooms. Just like common milkweed, this plant is toxic to pets. 

3. Mild Water Pepper

Mild water pepper plant belongs to the buckwheat family, and it grows in moist and wet habitats, sometimes semi-aquatic. It produces small clusters of white or pink flowers that contrast beautifully with the dark green lance-shaped hairless leaves. 

– What Sets It Apart

Mild water pepper or swamp smartweed closely resembles Asclepias incarnata or swamp milkweed, and you might see the two plants growing near each other as they have similar growing conditions. So while the plant is still young, it might look like a cross between the swamp and tropical milkweed plants, but once it blooms, you’ll realize that it’s a different variety. 

Mild Water Pepper Plant America

– Where and How to Plant It

Mild water pepper is highly tolerant of urban pollution, and it thrives in full sun. Although it might grow as an aquatic plant, it has moderate watering requirements.

You can grow this plant around a pond, and the flowers are usually sparsely distributed along the stem. The plant seeds take about ten days to germinate, unlike milkweed seeds, which typically take about a month. 

4 Mahonia

Asclepias syriaca, or common milkweed, has several lookalikes, and one of them is the mahonia flower, which is a perfect addition to your minimalist garden. This showy flowering shrub can be the ideal choice for a hedge and will work for you if you want to grow one spectacular plant that receives all the attention. 

– Why You Should Grow It

Mahonia flowers can be yellow or red and typically bloom in winter or spring. This plant isn’t picky about the kind of soil it grows in but needs regular deep watering while establishing itself.

Mahonia Plant Grow Plant America

You can plant these flowers in a shady spot in your garden, although they tolerate full sun and partial shade. Mahonia shrubs are suitable for beginner gardeners because they’re easy to maintain, but they are slow growers.

– Special Features

These shrubs provide year-round interest as the vibrant flowers attract pollinators like butterflies and bees. When they dry, the flowers turn into blue-black berries that appeal to birds. Yearly pruning will keep the plant healthy and encourage more growth. 

5. Garden Phlox

The garden phlox is almost maintenance-free, and the sturdy stems make this flower perfect for cut flower arrangements. It’s an amazing choice for a cottage garden and will survive for several years with minimal care. It’s almost pest-resistant, but it’s prone to powdery mildew that slightly affects the look of the leaves. 

– Description

It grows clusters of pink, salmon, purple, lilac, lavender, and white flowers, and they have a mild fragrance that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.

Garden Phlox Arrangements Plant America

This plant grows in full or partial sun and thrives in fertile, moist, but not soggy soil with good drainage. Adding compost every spring will keep this plant healthy and boost flowering. 

– How It’s Different

Garden phlox or tall phlox is easy to mistake for butterfly weed or Asclepias tuberosa, except for the color of the flowers and shape of the leaves. Unlike the elongated leaves of butterfly milkweed, the garden phlox has slightly shorter ones. Some cultivars can be variegated, and these are more attractive. 

6. Spotted Dead Nettle

The flowers of the spotted dead nettle look like a sparse version of flowers that various milkweed species grow. This resilient ground cover grows in bare soil that won’t support anything except weeds.

The flowers come in pink, purple, and white shades, just like common milkweed, but they won’t attract pollinators. It’s an amazing choice for a problematic area and works for cottage gardens. Most varieties are variegated, adding to the beauty of this plant.

Spotted Dead Nettle Plant America

– Growing Requirements

The spotted dead nettle thrives in full to partial shade, and with more shade, it doesn’t need much watering. However, it prefers acidic, well-draining soil, and adding compost will boost its growth. It’s a shade-loving plant that blooms in spring and summer, and most people grow it for its silvery foliage, although the flowers are also attractive. 

– Issues

The stems of the spotted dead nettle grow into roots when they touch the ground, and this is why this plant is considered invasive in many areas. Regular pruning is needed to keep it under control. 

7. Cockscomb

The cockscomb plant can be planted as a perennial in warmer climates or an annual in colder zones. In summer, it grows uniquely-shaped flowers with comb-like structures that give the plant its name. These aren’t clustered flowers like the ones of butterfly milkweed, but they look very much like them, especially from a distance. 

– How To Grow It

The cockscomb won’t disappoint if you’re looking for a low-maintenance warm-weather plant. It thrives in full sun, as too much shade will affect flowering and will lead to fungal diseases.

The Cockscomb Plant Plant America

It prefers to grow in rich, nutrient-rich, slightly acidic, well-draining soil and needs regular watering to stay healthy. The plant is resilient to most pests, but fungal diseases can be a problem in shady areas. Deadheading the spent flowers will encourage more blooming.

– Description

The attention-grabbing flowers of the cockscomb come in shades of red, orange, yellow, pink, or white, and they stay in bloom from summer to fall. These flowers retain their beauty and colors even when they’re cut, so they’re suitable for dry flower arrangements. 

8. Sweet Alyssum

The sweet alyssum looks like a mini milkweed flower and is among the most popular flowering plants in the US. This plant spreads quickly, growing a large number of attractive white blooms. However, several varieties grow pink, purple, rose, violet, and red flowers. The white varieties look very close to whorled milkweed, but the flowers are smaller. 

– Special Features

Thanks to the fragrant honey-like scent of the flowers, this plant will attract different pollinators like the monarch butterfly, hummingbirds, and bees. It takes about two months to germinate and bloom, which makes it an excellent choice for changing the look of your landscape pretty fast.

Sweet Alyssum Like Mini Milkweed Plant America

This plant spreads as an attractive ground cover, with tiny, gray-green, slightly hairy lance-shaped leaves. It’s a cool-season plant that you can grow after the last frost, and most of it fades with the intense summer heat to bloom again in the fall. 

– Care Tips

It thrives in full sun but doesn’t tolerate extended dry periods. The sweet alyssum is tolerant of various soil conditions, as long as it’s well-draining and needs more water during dry spells and if grown in a stony landscape. It’s generally considered problem-free but needs to be controlled because it can become invasive. 

9. Brazilian Verbena

Brazilian verbena will be a star in your butterfly garden, appealing to different pollinators, including butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees. But it’s especially appealing to monarch caterpillars and will provide their bodies with the essential nutrients. 

– Features

This plant is a fast-growing perennial, but it grows as an annual in colder climates. It’s a see-through plant with sparse stems, so it can be grown as a backdrop for shorter blooms.

Brazilian Verbena for Butterfly Garden Plant America

It’s quite easy to take care of and will grow small clusters of purple flowers that look like a smaller version of purple milkweed varieties. In order to reach its full height, this plant needs access to at least six hours of sun, and it becomes drought-resistant once established. 

– Why You Should Grow It

The Brazilian verbena grows its vibrant flowers in the middle of the summer and stays in bloom until mid-fall. The flowers maintain their colors and beauty even after cutting and drying, so this plant is a popular choice for flower arrangements with many other plants.

The stems can reach a height of four and even six feet in optimal growing conditions, but they don’t need stalking because they’re pretty sturdy. 

10. Purple Loosestrife

The purple loosestrife is an annoying weed that grows near bodies of water, and it’s not something you want to grow around your pond unless this is the only plant you want to grow. It survives in many soil conditions, even disturbed construction sites, and can tolerate fluctuating water levels, but it thrives in full sun. 

– What Sets It Apart

During its early period of growth, the purple loosestrife is often mistaken for swamp milkweed. This is because of its elongated leaves that taper towards the end, but it grows fuchsia-purple flowers on spikes that immediately give it away.

Purple Loosestrife Annoying Weed Plant America

Yet, the summer blooms of this plant are attractive to different pollinators, including bees, moths, butterflies, and even dragonflies. It can be grown submerged in a pond, but you should use a mesh basket planter for easy maintenance. 

– What To Look Out For

People don’t usually treat the purple loosestrife as an obnoxious weed even though it is one, because of its gorgeous flowers. This weed can become invasive and stress and even kill native and nearby plants because it’s highly resilient. 

11. Dittany

Dittany, also known as burning bush or gas plant, is an impressive plant that adds life and color to your landscape without being too showy. It’s a long-lived plant, resistant to most pests and diseases, and it’s not invasive, so it’s a good choice if you’re a beginner gardener. 

– Description

This plant grows clusters of small white or pinkish flowers that look very close to Asclepias speciosa or showy milkweed. The flowers bloom in summer and then fade to turn into seed pods. Both the flowers and seed pods look incredible in cut flower arrangements and can be what you need to enhance the look of a cottage garden. 

Dittany Known as Burning Bush Plant America

The plant’s nickname relates to the seed pods. They contain a lemon-scented oil, which is flammable and causes photodermatitis upon contact. On hotter days, the oil steams, and the strong smell will fill your garden. Unfortunately, this plant is toxic to pets and has sensitive roots that don’t handle transplanting.  

– Growing Conditions

You can grow your dittany flowers in a sunny location, but they prefer partial shade in hot summers. Well-draining, slightly alkaline, moist soil is preferred, but this plant can survive in poor soil conditions and becomes drought-resistant once established. 

12. Egyptian Star Cluster

The Egyptian star cluster is another showy flower that can be mistaken for several milkweed plants, especially purple milkweed. It has shallow blooms that grow in summer and allow pollinators to dig into many flowers over a short period of time. This is why monarch butterflies and bees are always attracted to this gorgeous plant. 

– Features

The flowers come in different bright shades of purple, pink, red, lavender, and sometimes white, and they can stay in bloom for long periods with continuous care.

Egyptian Star Cluster Plant America

Plants need to receive at least three hours of full sun, and they thrive in mildly acidic soil. The Egyptian star cluster prefers regular watering, but overhead watering can cause brown spots. 

– What You Need To Know

Gardeners usually choose to plant the Egyptian star cluster as a pet-safe substitute for showy milkweed, as it doesn’t contain the milky sap that can potentially kill your pet.

The plant has fuzzy foliage and needs regular fertilizing during the growing period to stay in shape. Some varieties become drought-resistant once established, but these are prone to spider mite infestations. 

13. Sedum

Sedum or stonecrop is a showy yet hardy plant that grows late bloomers. There are two varieties of sedum plants, one that grows as a ground cover and another one that can be used to create a border. Sedum flowers grow in red, pink, yellow, and white shades and stay in bloom until fall. The white varieties look very close to antelope horns milkweed. 

– Why You Should Grow It

These flowers are extremely versatile and can be suitable for mass planting, edging, or growing in containers. The sedum can be grown close to any milkweed plant because it attracts butterflies and other pollinators. The flowers are extremely attractive when cut and last for weeks in a vase. 

Sedum Know as Stonecrop Plant America

– Growing Requirements

The growth rate of stonecrop plants varies by variety, but most of them have moderate growth rates. The plant has attractive foliage that looks good even in winter and doesn’t require deadheading, so it’s an excellent choice for a beginner or busy gardener. However, cutting down the plant after blooming can keep it healthier.

It thrives in full sun and prefers to grow in loose, sandy, or gravelly soil with sharp drainage. Once established, you can only water this plant during dry spells. The same approach should be taken if you plan to transplant your sedum plant.

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