Butterfly Weed

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a must-have for the pollinator garden with clusters of bright orange flowers in summer. This native wildflower is easy to grow, cold hardy, and does well in poor, dry soils. Asclepias is an important nectar source for Monarch butterflies and the sole host plant for Monarch caterpillars. Drought resistant/drought tolerant (xeric).
Zones4 - 9
Advantages
Attract Butterflies
Attract Hummingbirds
Bee Friendly
Deer Resistant
Native
Fragrant Flower / Foliage
Multiplies / Naturalizes
Adds Texture
Light Requirements
Full Sun
Annual Rainfall
10 to 20"
20 to 30"
30 to 40" (with care)
Mature Height15-18" tall
Mature Spread15-18" wide
Bloom TimeLate spring to summer
ShippingNo longer available this season. Learn More…
SizePlant - 5" Deep Pot
SKUHC017530

USDA Hardiness Planting Zones

To determine if a plant is sufficiently cold hardy, the USDA created numbered zones indicating winter low temperatures; the lower the zone number the colder the winter.

  • If the coldest winter temperature expected in your area is -15°F (zone 5) then any plants rated zones 3-5 will survive the winter temperatures in your area.
  • If you live in very warm winter areas (zones 9-11) plants with zones 3-4 ratings are not recommended. The lack of freezing winter temperatures do not provide a time for winter dormancy (rest).

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15-18" tall x 15-18" wide. Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a host plant for Monarch butterfly caterpillars, and an attractive nectar plant for many varieties of butterflies. This selection is best for dry, sandy, and well-draining soils. For clay soils, see our Butterfly Weed (Clay Form) selection. As a long-lived, tap-rooted plant, Butterfly Weed will establish its deep roots and reach mature size over a couple of seasons, and it will naturalize with time. Deep tap roots prefer not to be transplanted. Butterfly Weed is slow to wake up in the spring, but worth the wait for the bright orange flowers in summer! To achieve a bushy look, pinch back young stems. Unlike other milkweeds, Butterfly Weed does not possess the milky sap that can irritate skin and eyes. Stalks and pods provide interest in the winter garden. Perennial Plant Association Plant of The Year 2017.  Asclepias tuberosa Native Range: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WI, WV.

More Information
SKUHC017530
Item Package Size
Plant - 5" Deep Pot
Common Name
Butterfly Weed
Botanical Name
Asclepias tuberosa
Zones
4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Light Requirements
Full Sun
Flower Color
Orange
Mature Height
15-18" tall
Mature Spread
15-18" wide
Bloom Time
Late spring to summer
Ships As
Potted Plant
Soil Type
Sandy Soil, Clay Soil, Low Fertility Soil, Well-Drained Soil
Soil Moisture
Drought Resistant / Waterwise
Amount Of Rain
10 to 20", 20 to 30", 30 to 40" (with care)
Advantages
Attract Butterflies, Attract Hummingbirds, Bee Friendly, Deer Resistant, Native, Fragrant Flower / Foliage, Multiplies / Naturalizes, Adds Texture
Special Groups
High Country Gardens Introduction
Ideal Region
Anywhere In The US, Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, West, Southwest, Pacific Northwest
Planting Time
Spring / Summer, Fall
Neonicotinoid Free
Native To
North America
Ships To Canada
No
Planting Guides

Asclepias (Milkweed) are sun loving plants that are essential perennials for monarch butterflies providing food for caterpillars and nectar for adult butterflies. They bloom from mid-summer into early fall and, with their milky sap, are resistant to rabbits and deer.

Asclepias can be divided into two groups for plant care; Asclepias tuberosa with orange (sometimes yellow) flowers and all the other species with pink (sometimes white) flowers.

  • Asclepias tuberosa (Orange Butterfly Weed) - this perennial stays dormant until later in the spring than many other plants, especially when grown in pots. It's fine to plant dormant plants; don't up-pot them for planting later in the growing season.
  • Preferred growing conditions:

    1. Need sandy or gravelly soils (except the Clay form which does well in heavier soils including dry clay.)
    2. Does best with gravel mulches.
    3. After their second growing season, only requires deep but infrequent watering. Plant in full hot sun.
    4. Just a few handfuls of compost and Yum Yum Mix added to the planting hole is enough. Don't plant into a rich, highly-amended soil.

    Special comments:

    • When planting dormant plants, water thoroughly after planting and wait to water again until the plant comes into active growth, at which time a deep watering every week or so is adequate. Take care not to overwater young transplants.
    • Asclepias has a long, carrot-like tap root that should remain undisturbed after planting and should NOT ever be divided.
  • Most Asclepias species are late to wake up in the spring, and will often be shipped as dormant plants. Don't despair if your milkweed is asleep. The white roots and woody crown are alive just waiting for consistently warm weather to wake up and begin to grow.these perennial species stay dormant later in the spring than many other plants, especially when they are grown in pots. It's fine to plant dormant plants; don't up-pot them for planting later in the growing season.
  • Preferred growing conditions:

    1. These species grow in a wide range of soil types, including clay.
    2. They don't need mulching (except in very hot climates).
    3. These are moisture-loving perennials and do well in wet to moderately moist soil conditions.
    4. Plant in full to part sun areas.
    5. They like compost enriched soils at planting time.

    Special comments:

    • Asclepias syriaca and A. speciosa will spread to make big patches of plants and are best planted in parts of the landscape where they won't crowd out less vigorous plants. Not recommended for the prime spots in your perennial beds.
    • Asclepias incarnata (Swamp Milkweed) is a more refined grower and is fine to include in perennial beds.

Oftentimes, Milkweeds won't grow much their first season in the ground, so be patient. They are establishing their root system and crown. By the second growing season, the plants will begin to get bigger and look more robust. Asclepias species are an odd bunch and don't behave like many other more familiar perennials. So be patient and accept their quirky nature.

Garden care:

  1. Fertilize Asclepias just once in fall with Yum Yum Mix and Planters II. - Naturalized plantings don't need additional fertilization.
  2. To encourage re-seeding and provide winter interest with their ornamental seed pods, leave the stems intact over the winter. In mid-spring, remove old stems just above ground level.
  3. All species of Asclepias are late to emerge in the spring, so don't be concerned if other perennials come up first and they remain dormant.

View more Planting Guides, or download our complete Planting Guide for tips on caring for your plants when you receive your order, as well as planting instructions for Perennials, Spring-Planted Bulbs, Fall-Planted Bulbs, Cacti & Succulents, Xeric Plants and more.
Shipping

No longer available this season.

As soon as your order is placed you will receive a confirmation email. You will receive a second email the day your order ships telling you how it has been sent. Some perennials are shipped as potted plants, some as perennial roots packed in peat.  The ‘Plant Information’ section describes how that item will ship. All perennials and spring-planted bulbs are packaged to withstand shipping and are fully-guaranteed. Please open upon receipt and follow the instructions included.

Perennials and spring-planted bulbs are shipped at the proper planting time for your hardiness zone. Perennial and spring-planted bulb orders will arrive separately from seeds. If your order requires more than one shipment and all items are shipping to the same address, there is no additional shipping charge. See our shipping information page for approximate ship dates and more detailed information. If you have any questions, please call Customer Service toll-free at (800) 925-9387 or contact us by email.

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