'Butterfly weed' is a plant in the Asclepias genus with a scientific name of Asclepias tuberosa. The botanical name epithet for Butterfly weed (tuberosa) means 'tuberous'.
Asclepias tuberosa is a species of milkweed that produces very showy orange-red flowers that are highly attractive to butterflies.
Attracts caterpillars (Monarch, Queen, Soldier)
United States is believed to be where Butterfly weed originates from.
Butterfly weed is known to be toxic to humans and/or animals, so be careful where you position and how you handle this plant.
Butterfly weed needs a moderate amount of maintenance, so some level of previous experience comes in handy when growing this plant. Ensure that you are aware of the soil, sun, ph and water requirements for this plant and keep an eye out for pests.
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Plant favors dry, sand or gravel soil, but has also been reported on stream margins. It requires full sun. (1)
Do not over water this plant as it prefers a drier soil condition.
Plant dies down completely to the ground at end of growing season.
Plant breaks dormancy and shows shoots very late in Spring.
Produces a long tap root, doesn’t like to be disturbed.Butterfly weed likes a position of full sun and remember to apply water fairly sparingly. Zone 3 to 9 are typically the USDA Hardiness Zones that are appropriate for this plant (although this can vary based on your microclimate). Ideally plant in sandy soil and try to keep the ph of your soil between the range of 4.8 and 6.8 as Butterfly weed likes to be in moderately acidic soil - weakly acidic soil. Keep in mind when planting that Butterfly weed is thought of as very hardy, so this plant will tend to survive through freezing conditions.
Butterfly Weed may take up to two years to become established from seed. (2)
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse.
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors (3)
Fresh seeds need chilling to germinate. Freezer can substitute for cold weather. A few days chilling can be sufficient.
Plant in late winter/early spring
This plant favors dry, sand or gravel soil, but has also been reported on stream margins. It requires full sun. (1)
Seed pods are large and full of hundreds of dark brown, teardrop shaped seeds with fluffy white parachutes attached to each seed. The dried, splitting pod may be collected easily with seeds lined up inside rows. Green pods without seams are not ripe.
Keep seeds in pod and allow to dry out. Can be sown in fall or frozen in freezer a few days before starting.
These plants have been known to grow well alongside Butterfly weed so consider planting:
Consider planting with roses as the aphids will be drawn to the Butterfly weed instead. Also, since this plant is drought tolerant, it works well with Catmint this is exceptionally low key with water consumption.
These plants will not grow well with Butterfly weed so avoid planting these within close proximity:
These problems, diseases and pests are known to affect Butterfly weed plants:
They are known to attract aphids and although some gardeners do not actually like having them on the plant itself, they are good at distracting aphids off other plants such as roses and are know for also attracting other beneficial bugs such as ladybugs. If the aphids really bother you, just spray them off the plant with a strong stream of water.
The root was chewed by Native Americans for pleurisy hence the name pleurisy root.4
Extracts in herbalism and by Native Americans were used as an expectorant for wet coughs and other pulmonary ailments. Use of the herb is contraindicated in pregnancy, during lactation. (1)
This plant is a host for the Monarch Butterfly 5
Canada root, Chigger flower, Chiggerflower, Fluxroot, Indian paintbrush, Indian posy, Orange milkweed, Orange swallow-wort, Pleurisy root, Silky swallow-wort, Tuber root, Yellow milkweed, White-root, Windroot, Orange butterflyweed, Butterfly Milkweed