Swamp Milkweed Asclepias incarnata 'Ice Ballet'

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
swamp milkweed 'Ice Ballet'


The 'Ice Ballet' swamp milkweed is a stunning perennial known for its elegant and vibrant appearance. It showcases clusters of small, star-shaped flowers that bloom in a brilliant white color, providing a stark contrast against the lush green foliage. These flowers are densely packed in attractive rounded clusters that sit atop the stems and create a visually appealing display. The leaves of the 'Ice Ballet' swamp milkweed are narrow and elongated, with a deep green color that adds to the rich backdrop for the white flowers. The leaves are arranged in an opposite pattern along the stems, creating a balanced and symmetrical look. This plant has a sturdy and upright growth habit, with multiple stems rising vertically and giving structure to the overall form. As the name suggests, 'Ice Ballet' has a graceful and delicate appeal reminiscent of a dance performance. The pure white flowers appear light and airy, almost as if they're floating above the foliage. This plant adds a touch of sophistication to any garden setting, attracting butterflies with its enchanting blooms. Given that it is a variety of swamp milkweed, it is also particularly beneficial for pollinators, especially monarch butterflies, that rely on milkweed species for survival.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Synonyms

      Swamp Milkweed, Rose Milkweed, White Swamp Milkweed, Ice Ballet Milkweed, Incarnate Milkweed.

    • Common names

      Asclepias incarnata 'Ice Ballet'.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      The common name for Asclepias incarnata 'Ice Ballet' is swamp milkweed. It does contain toxic compounds such as cardenolides which can be harmful if ingested in large quantities. While it is not typically considered highly toxic to humans, it can cause mild to moderate symptoms if eaten. The most common symptoms of poisoning from swamp milkweed include nausea, vomiting, weakness, difficulty breathing, and rapid or irregular heart rate. Ingesting swamp milkweed can lead to severe poisoning in some cases, especially for children or individuals with a sensitivity to cardenolides. It is advisable to handle the plant with care and supervise children and pets to prevent accidental ingestion.

    • To pets

      Swamp milkweed, known scientifically as Asclepias incarnata 'Ice Ballet', contains compounds that are toxic to many animals, including pets such as cats and dogs. If a pet ingests parts of this plant, they may experience symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, weakness, labored breathing, dilated pupils, or loss of coordination. More serious effects can include seizures, heart rhythm abnormalities, and potentially, if consumed in significant quantities, death. Therefore, it is important to prevent pets from having access to swamp milkweed to avoid any accidental ingestion and potential toxicity.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      3-4 feet (0.91-1.22 meters)

    • Spread

      2-3 feet (0.61-0.91 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area

      North America


  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Attracts Pollinators: The Ice Ballet milkweed is known for attracting butterflies, including monarchs, which use it as a host plant for their larvae.
    • Supports Biodiversity: By providing vital food sources and habitat, it supports a variety of insects and birds, contributing to a diverse and healthy ecosystem.
    • Drought-Resistant: Once established, it is relatively drought-tolerant, making it suitable for xeriscaping and reducing the need for watering.
    • Native Planting: As a native species, Ice Ballet milkweed is well-adapted to local climates and conditions, promoting region-specific flora balance.
    • Low Maintenance: This perennial plant requires minimal care, making it a good choice for gardeners seeking low-effort landscaping options.
    • Erosion Control: The deep root system of the Ice Ballet milkweed helps stabilize soil and prevent erosion, particularly along banks or slopes.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Swamp Milkweed 'Ice Ballet' can be used in the production of natural dyes, as the flowers, stems, and leaves contain pigments that can color fabrics and materials.
    • The silky floss from the seed pods can be gathered and used as a natural stuffing for small pillows or as an insulating material.
    • It can serve as an educational tool in schools and conservatories to teach about the life cycle of the monarch butterfly for which it serves as a host plant.
    • Fibre from the stem of the plant can be twisted into string or rope in survival situations or for craft purposes.
    • The plant's complex root system can be utilized in soil-erosion control projects along stream banks or other areas prone to erosion.
    • Its dried seed pods can be incorporated into decorative floral arrangements and crafts for their distinctive shape and texture.
    • Swamp Milkweed 'Ice Ballet' can be planted as part of a rain garden to help absorb excess water and prevent runoff in urban landscapes.
    • It can be used in xeriscaping, the practice of designing landscapes to reduce or eliminate the need for irrigation, due to its drought-tolerant properties.
    • Gardeners may use the plant as a natural way to attract and sustain beneficial insects, like bees and beetles, that are crucial for pollination.
    • Photographers and nature enthusiasts might grow Swamp Milkweed 'Ice Ballet' in their gardens for the purpose of observing and photographing the diverse wildlife it attracts.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Swamp Milkweed is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Swamp Milkweed is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Transformation and Change: The Asclepias incarnata 'Ice Ballet', commonly known as Swamp Milkweed, undergoes a remarkable transformation from a caterpillar to a monarch butterfly, symbolizing growth, change, and the ability to evolve over time.
    • Survival and Resilience: Swamp Milkweed thrives in wet conditions, representing the ability to adapt and survive through challenging environments and circumstances.
    • Health and Healing: With a genus name honoring Asclepius, the Greek god of healing, Swamp Milkweed signifies health and the healing process, as many Asclepias species have been used in traditional medicine.
    • Attracting Good Fortune: This plant is known for attracting butterflies, particularly monarchs, which are often seen as symbols of good luck and positive change.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Spring-Early Summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    The Swamp Milkweed 'Ice Ballet' should be watered once a week with about one gallon of water, ensuring the soil is kept consistently moist but not waterlogged. During hotter and drier periods, it may require more frequent watering, perhaps twice a week, especially if planted in well-draining soil or in a container. It's important to water the plant at the base to avoid wetting the foliage, which can lead to fungal diseases. During the winter when the plant is dormant, reduce watering significantly to prevent root rot.

  • sunLight

    Swamp Milkweed 'Ice Ballet' thrives in full sun conditions, requiring at least six hours of direct sunlight daily to perform its best. An ideal spot would be in an area that receives unobstructed sunlight for most of the day, though it can tolerate some light shade, particularly in the afternoon when the sun is most intense.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Swamp Milkweed 'Ice Ballet' is hardy and can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, generally from 20°F to 100°F. The ideal temperature range for this perennial is between 60°F and 85°F to encourage healthy growth. It's important to protect the plant from extreme cold by applying mulch around the base in areas where temperatures may drop below the survival range.

  • scissorsPruning

    Pruning Swamp Milkweed 'Ice Ballet' is primarily done to maintain shape and remove spent flower stalks, which can encourage a second bloom. Cut back stems in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Pruning is not frequently required, but deadheading after the first bloom may encourage more flowers. The best time for major pruning is early spring or after the plant has finished flowering in fall.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    White Swamp Milkweed prefers moist, well-drained soil enriched with organic matter, with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5. A mix combining loamy garden soil, peat, and perlite in equal parts is ideal for both moisture retention and drainage, essential for its growth.

  • plantRepotting

    White Swamp Milkweed typically does not need to be repotted often as it is a perennial plant with a deep root system. It should generally be repotted or divided every 2-3 years to ensure healthy growth or when it outgrows its current container.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    White Swamp Milkweed thrives in average to high humidity levels similar to its natural wetland habitat. It is tolerant of outdoor humidity ranges but does not require any special indoor humidity adjustments.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place in bright light, keep soil moist.

    • Outdoor

      Full sun, moist soil, mulch to retain moisture.

    • Hardiness zone

      3-9 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    The common name for Asclepias incarnata 'Ice Ballet' is Swamp Milkweed. The life cycle begins with seed germination, typically in early spring, where seeds require a period of cold stratification to break dormancy. Following germination, the seedling emerges and establishes a small rosette of leaves. As the plant matures, it develops a sturdy stem and broader leaves, entering a vegetative growth stage that supports photosynthesis and resource accumulation. In late spring to summer, the plant enters the reproductive stage, producing clusters of vanilla-scented, white flowers that attract pollinators and are particularly beneficial for monarch butterflies. After pollination, the plant produces distinctive seed pods that split open when mature, releasing seeds equipped with silky hairs that are dispersed by the wind, continuing the propagation cycle.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-Early Summer

    • Swamp Milkweed 'Ice Ballet', a perennial known for its attractiveness to butterflies and resistance to deer, is best propagated by seed. The optimal time for sowing the seeds is in the fall, allowing nature's cycles to stratify the seeds naturally over winter. However, if planting in spring, seeds require cold moist stratification for 30 days before sowing to improve germination rates. To achieve this, one can mix the seeds with slightly moist sand and store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. After stratification, the seeds can be sown about 1/8 inch deep in soil and should germinate within a few weeks when kept at around 70°F (21°C). Once the seedlings have grown large enough to handle and the risk of frost has passed, they can be transplanted outdoors to enjoy their beautiful white blooms.