Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Plant Profile: Monkey Balls (Gomphocarpus physocarpus)

Gomphocarpus physocarpus a member of the Milkweed family that has many common names including Hairy Balls, Giant Swan Plant, Goose Plant, Family Jewels, Oscar, Monkey Balls, and Balloon Plant. (Asclepias physocarpa is the former botanical name.)

It is native to South America and grown as an annual in our region.  It is hardy to zones 9-11.

It prefers full sun and moderate moisture.  It can grow 4-6 feet high. The flowers are not that showy, but the seed pods are a show-stopper. 

Like other Milkweeds, it supports Monarch caterpillars and butterflies – as well as other pollinators. It is also deer-resistant.

You can start seeds indoors a few weeks before the last expected frost date in spring and then transplant them outdoors.

This plant is a favorite for flower arrangements. The seedpods dry nicely and it makes a terrific conversation starter in the landscape or on a table.

Gomphocarpus physocarpus - You Can Grow That!


The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine.

Visuals by Nicole Noechel
Audio by Kathy Jentz


Filmed at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, DC.


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