Butterfly Weed

Scientific Name:  Asclepias tuberosa

Light: Sun to Part-Sun

Zone:  3 to 9

Height:  1 to 3 feet

Width:  12 to 18 inches

Flowers:  Yellow / Orange

Fruit/Seed:  August to November, pod

Fall Color:

Butterflies:  Monarch Host; Many butterflies nectar on butterfly weed.

Birds:   Birds eat the insects and caterpillars found on butterfly weed.  They also use the fibers holding the seeds to line nests or the strong fibers from the stems to build nest.

Hummingbird:  Attracted

Deer Resistant:  Seldom severely damaged

Insects/Pollinators: Butterfly Weed is a favored plant for many native pollinators including numerous species of bees, wasps, and butterflies.  It attracts approximately 450 different insect types.

Native:  Carroll & through out Maryland

Idea Garden:  Eldersburg Library Bay-Wise and Native Plant Garden

Propagation:   Seeds germinate after 30 days of cold, moist stratification at 24 to 39 degrees.  This is most easily achieved by winter sowing or placing the seed between damp paper towels in a baggie then placing the baggie in a refrigerator.  After stratification, the seeds germinates at 68 degrees.

Seedlings are easily transplanted but larger plants do not transplant well due to their taproot.

Description

Butterfly Weed is an attractive milkweed that can be used as a cut flower.  The flowers are a nectar source for many insects and the leaves are a food source for monarch butterfly caterpillars.

Mature plants may freely self-seed in the landscape if seed pods are not removed prior to splitting open.  Butterfly weed can be late to emerge in the spring. You can remove spent flowers to encourage rebloom.

Butterfly weed does not like clay soil.

Cultivars/Varieties

Gay Butterflies – 28″, A mix containing shades of yellow, orange and red.

Hello Yellow – 24″,  Strong bright yellow, a rare form of the popular American species. Choice perennial, blooms first year.

Sources

Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping: Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Butterfly Weed – USDA Plant Fact Sheet

Butterfly Weed – Missouri Botanical Garden

Butterfly Weed – Maryland Biodiversity Project

Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance – Rutgers

Recommended for Wildlife by

Creating a Wild Backyard – Hummingbirds, Butterflies & Bees – Maryland DNR

Top Nectar Plants, Piedmont (Central Maryland) by North American Butterfly Association

Bring Home The Butterflies Vol. I: How to Attract More Monarchs to your Butterfly Garden…and Keep Them There! by Tony Gomez

Butterflies of Maryland:  A biological summary and checklist by Maryland DNR

 For the Birds, Butterflies & Hummingbirds: Creating Inviting Habitats – Virginia Extension

Photos

Nancy Bittler

 

Additional information

Zones

Zone 5, Zone 6, Zone 7, Zone 8

Light

Part Sun, Sun

Soil

Dry, Loam, Moist

Flower Color

Orange, Yellow

Flower Season

Summer

Fruit Season

Fall, Summer

Native

Carroll, Coast, Mountain, Piedmont

Wildlife Value

Beneficial Insects, Butterfly Host, Deer Resistant, Food for Birds, Nectar

Notable Features

Cut Flowers, Rain Garden

Local Availability

Available, Widely Available

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