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The Plant Guide

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Butterfly weed

Asclepias tuberosa

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Butterfly weed is a native perennial with flat-topped, orange or yellow flower clusters at the ends of its stems or in its leaf axils. From midsummer to autumn, it produces clusters of brightly colored flowers that attract insects, followed by fruit and showy seed. Plant in a border, meadow, butterfly garden, or wildflower garden.

Noteworthy CharacteristicsVery bright orange or yellow flowers. U.S. native. This plant's milky white sap may irritate skin. Its stiff, thick branches may act as treillage to support weaker neighboring plants. Attracts bees and butterflies. May be slow to emerge in spring.

CareNeeds full sun and fertile, well-drained, loamy soil. They have taproots and resent disturbance.

PropagationSow seeds in a cold frame in early spring. Divide plants or take basal cuttings in spring.

ProblemsAphids and mealybugs can be a problem when flowering. In the southeast, rust and leaf spot are common.

  • Genus : Asclepias
  • Plant Height : 1 to 3 feet
  • Plant Width : 1 to 3 feet
  • Zones : 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
  • Characteristics : Attracts Hummingbirds, Self Seeds, Showy Seed Heads
  • Moisture : Dry to Medium
  • Bloom Time : Early Fall, Fall, Late Summer, Summer
  • Light : Full Sun
  • Maintenance : Low
  • Plant Type : Perennials
  • Plant Seasonal Interest : Summer Interest
  • Flower Color : Yellow
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