Species Origin: US Native Wildflower
Type: Native Wildflowers
Harvesting: This makes a striking cut flower. Because the stems contain no milky sap, these flowers tend to have a longer vase life than most milkweed varieties. Cut the stems long, choosing flowers that have just opened.
Growing: Young plants should be watered until they become established; mature plants can tolerate drought, and the roots will be damaged by excessively wet soil. This plant grows slowly, and it may take 2-3 years to produce flowers. Though not invasive, this plant will eventually spread if left to drop its seed. The flowers attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Deer avoid this plant. If aphids become a problem, dislodge them from the plant with a strong stream of water.
Common Names: Pleurisy Root, Orange Milkweed
Height: 24 Inches
Type: Native Wildflowers
However, Asclepias tuberosa seeds will break dormancy after time. Our seeds have already broken dormancy and will germinate readily within a week or two after planting – no cold stratification needed.
Seed Pods of Butterfly Weed
It is also a vibrant colored flower, easy to grow, well behaved (as far as not taking over), and comes back reliably every year. For those reasons, it will stay a staple in my butterfly garden.
Use of Butterfly Weed in a Butterfly Garden
I love my Asclepias tuberosa as a butterfly garden plant because of its attraction as a nectar plant. Many different butterflies, especially Swallowtails in my garden, visit the blooms of this plant.
Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) is often confused with Butterfly Bush (Buddleia). They are not the same. Butterfly bush is a large shrub that is a great nectar plant whereas Butterfly Milkweed is a short milkweed that can be used as a host plant by Monarchs as well as being a nectar plant.
As with other milkweeds, the plant produces a seed pod that when dry it opens to release seeds attached to “fluff” allowing the seed to float away in the breeze. If you want to save seed to make more plants for next year then just wait until the pod starts splitting open. At that point you can open it and harvest the seed while the “fluff” is still silky-slick. You can plant these seeds in the fall and wait until spring for germination or cold stratify them for spring planting.
Asclepias tuberosa Native Plant Range
USDA, NRCS. 2016. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov)
Butterfly Weed Seeds 6375. Bright, sun-loving plants are filled with brilliant orange flower clusters 10 cm (4″) across from June through to September. Mound shaped plants average 60 cm (24″) tall. Like its name suggests, this beautiful plant is a favourite of butterflies and other nectar loving insects. Butterfly Milkweed is a native Ontario perennial wildflower that is very heat and drought tolerant and an excellent choice for the low maintenance garden. Hardy to Zone 3.
125 seed/gram. Sow seed indoors in a soil-less mix in early March for late summer flowering in the first year. Growing medium temperature should be about 20 C (68 F). After germination, grow-on under lights at a cooler temperature of 15 C (60 F) before hardening off and planting out to a sunny site after the danger of frost has passed. Dormant fall seeding in mid October is also a good way to start not only this plant but many other perennials. Late fall seeding allows any dormant seed to be naturally stratified over the winter.