Butterfly Weed

Native To North America

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a perennial native to eastern North America that is a member of the milkweed family (though it does not have a milky sap when broken). Other common names include Canada Root, Chigger Flower, Chiggerflower, Fluxroot, Indian Paintbrush, Indian Posy, Orange Milkweed, Orange Swallow-wort, Pleurisy Root (because Indians used to chew on its tough root as a cure for pleurisy), Silky Swallow-wort, Tuber Root, Yellow Milkweed, White-root, and Windroot. Butterflies are attracted to the plant because of its bright colored flowers that produce an abundance of nectar. Hummingbirds, bees and other insects are also drawn to the plant, and it serves as a host plant for Queen and Monarch butterflies.

Growing Recommendations - Butterfly Weed

Butterfly Weed grows to 1-3’ tall and has spiral, lanceolate leaves with hairy undersides. Because it has long roots, the plant is difficult to divide or transplant. It is easily grown from seed, but can take up to 2 years to become fully established. It is best to first plant the seed in pots and let them become established there before moving them to the garden. The seeds require a period of cool temperature prior to planting in the ground (you may refrigerate them) and should be sown in late August to achieve maximum blooms. Butterfly Weed prefers dry, sandy soil and full sun, so they grow best in dry places such as prairies and canyons, or in brush or open woods. The colorful clustered flowers (ranging from bright orange-red through clear orange to yellow) bloom from late spring to early fall. Since it is a late bloomer, you should mark their place in your garden so you don’t accidentally damage their underground roots when cultivating earlier. Susceptible to diseases of leaf spot, mosaic and rust, Butterfly Weed is also bothered by garden pests, such as aphids, scale and caterpillars. Good garden companions include delphiniums, gloriosa daisy (Rudbeckia hirta) and wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa).

Photos of Buttercups

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