Butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa, isn’t as popular as it could be. Maybe the combination of the “weed” appellation and the bright orange color, but this is really a fine garden plant that brings a pleasing “pop” to the garden, no less for its drawing power for butterflies than for its joyful color. It took me tow starts to finally get Butterfly weed going in my garden. I have somewhat dry conditions in the late summer, and took the “tolerates dry conditions” too literally the first time around. I find they like regular moisture, but in well drained location. It is a perennial native to the United States, growing in prairies, open woods, and on hillsides.
Butterfly Weed is quite late to poke up out of the ground in spring. It helps to mark its place so prevent damaging the emerging sprouts when doing early work in the garden bed.
[ The Look ]
Flower clusters of 2–5 inches across are Orange or Yellow in color. Butterfly weed has a long bloomtime starting in Mid Summer and lasting through Early Fall. It will grow in Sun to Part Shade.With handsome foliage, Asclepias tuberosa grow somewhat narrowly, 2ft. tall by about 1 foot wide.
[ To Grow ]
Asclepias tuberosa is easy to grow from seed, which is how I introduced it to my garden. break open pods to collect seeds, which have that silky white floss of milk weeds, classified as a subfamily of of the dogbane family. It is better to try to have Butterfly Weed through seeds rather than division because of the taproot, which (especially in clay soil) is easy to break. Root cuttings are another way to propagate. [How to take Root Cuttings] Hardy to USDA Zone 4
[ In The Garden ]
A garden that is made of primarily hot colors, red, orange and yellow, or one that has complementary colors of blue and orange, the Butterfly weed can be equally at home in a prairie garden, butterfly garden, or wild garden. If grown in sun, they would be pretty with annual companions of Zinnias.
My own favorite combination has been their pairings with Pyracantha bush,’Lalandei‘, in the background, Echinaceas and feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) alongside, and red clover.
[ Fun Facts ]
Larval food plant of the Queen and Monarch butterflies, grow it in a butterfly garden.
Milkweed is beneficial to nearby plants, repelling some pests.
Milkweed sap is also externally used as a natural remedy for Poison Ivy.[ibid. source]
Recommended as a cut flower.