“Whereas I am grounded and mired in this place, she’s like milkweed fluff that will take off with the first strong breeze. Stronger than fluff, though. She’s like a bullet just waiting for someone to pull the trigger.”
-Wendy Wunder, The Museum of Intangible Things
Full Sun or Partial Sun
Towards the end of autumn, plant the seeds just below the surface of the earth. In the spring, germination will begin after the last frost. Since their roots do not take well to disturbance, seedlings do not usually survive transplanting. Regularly water as needed to keep the plants in wet soil as the seeds will not tolerate drought. This variety can be slow to develop and may take several years to produce flowers.
Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) is one of the rarer types of milkweed. The milkweed genus name Asclepias honors the Greek god of medicine Asklepios, since various milkweed species have historically been used for medical purposes. Incarnata simply means flesh-colored in Latin. Swamp milkweed can be found in bogs or marshy areas in states along the East coast. However, it can also be found further north in Canada and in southern states such as Texas and Louisiana. As beautiful as the swamp milkweed is, sometimes the plants can take several years to fully produce flowers when grown from seeds. Blooming and releasing its fragrant smell during the summertime, the swamp milkweed plant attracts various insects and pollinators, specifically monarch butterflies. The white sap is toxic to the majority of animals when consumed in large quantities. Laying their eggs on the underside of the plant’s thick leaves, the monarch butterflies use this toxin to their advantage, because birds leave them and the caterpillars alone.
By taking this seed packet you agree to participate in the project by planting and documenting the plants success or failure. We ask you to send photos to
Visit SolitaryGardens.org/SOR for more information on the project.
“There is no better teacher than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.”
The seed is the most cherished part of the plant. Seeds are travelers, progeny and potential. Seeds are built for survival over time and terrain. As a result, most of a plant’s energy is dedicated to making its seed.
This seed packet is part of a larger project, Solitary Garden’s Social Justice Seed Packets, an anti-oppression curriculum that allows us to engage with the history of mass incarceration and other social justice issues through the stories that plants inherently tell.
Through the act of gardening, we will demonstrate how ignoring the vitality of other beings impoverishes our own imaginations and collective well being. Unlearning systems of oppression, like growing a plant, requires daily attention and care. Love, hope, compassion, and social equity — like a garden — require nurturing in order to fully blossom. We hope this project begins to plant possibilities and water new ideas in order to collectively sow the world we wish to live in.
This edition of seed packets was compiled in collaboration with Professor Johanna Schuster-Craig’s Global Studies in the Arts and Humanities class (GSAH 201) and the assistance of Peter Carrington.
These contemplative questions are meant to inspire challenging conversations and growth. As you nurture your plant, we encourage you to nurture these ideas.
Often seen as a weed, Asclepias incarnata provides a home and vital nutrients needed for the life cycle of monarch butterflies. Monarch butterflies migrate thousands of miles every year without a passport.
- Why is citizenship often exclusively granted to those who offer “the most” to the nation- those with money and prestigious careers that translate into an American ideal?
- What happens to those in need of immediate asylum-those who yearn to call America their home and seek its protection?