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how to plant butterfly weed seeds

Is butterfly weed invasive?

For best milkweed plant care results, you should establish your orange butterfly plant garden in full sun. Be sure to choose the location carefully since plants grow very long tap roots.

Growing Butterfly Weed From Seed Outdoors

Once established, moving them proves very difficult, and moving them tends to kill them.

Additionally, the Greek name pays tribute to legendary Greek herbalist Aesulapius.

That’s because butterfly weed — a top food source for both butterflies and caterpillars — has been named the perennial plant of the year for 2017 by the Perennial Plant Association, a national trade association based in Hilliard. Bees and other pollinators love it, too — as do gardeners, because it requires little care. Landscapes that feature these native beauties enjoy a steady stream of buzzing, creeping and fluttering visitors. Via

Choose a spot in your garden to plant your Butterfly Weed that boasts hours of bright sunlight daily, as this plant loves to soak up the rays. Full-sun is definitely your best bet, but the hardy plant can tolerate a few hours of shade too.

The low maintenance Butterfly Weed does not require any additional fertilization—in fact, doing so can harm the plant, so it’s best to just let it do its thing.


Typically, the easiest and most successful way to add Butterfly Weed to your garden is to grow it from seed form. Plant fresh seeds in fall for growth the following spring, or allow any established Butterfly Weeds already in your garden to do the work for you. Beginning in late summer or early fall, the plants should start to develop seed pods in place of their blooms. If left on the stem, the pods will eventually burst and the seeds inside will be blown throughout your garden, allowing them to establish themselves in the soil in time for the following year. If you’d rather have more control over the eventual location of any new Butterfly Weed plants, you can remove the seed pods from the plant before they burst open and simply plant new seeds by hand instead.

Butterfly weed is a must-have plant for green thumbs looking to coax its namesake beautiful winged insects into their garden. Also known as Asclepias tuberosa, orange milkweed, pleurisy root, and yellow milkweed, the plant can grow to be anywhere from one to two feet tall and is characterized by glossy green leaves and clusters of bright orange-to-yellow blooms that are rich with nectar and pollen, which in turn attracts butterflies, along with bees, insects, and hummingbirds, all summer long. First grown in the prairies of the Midwestern United States, Butterfly Weed boasts a long medicinal history as well—Native Americans used to chew the roots as a remedy for pleurisy and other pulmonary issues, and they can also be brewed into a tea that can then be used to treat diarrhea and other stomach ailments. Butterfly weed should be planted in the early spring (after the final frost)—it will be slow to emerge, but will grow quickly once it does, hitting peak height and bloom in mid-to-late summer.

Because the Butterfly Weed is adaptable to zones three through nine, it can thrive in a variety of different temperature and humidity settings. Generally, the plant emerges in late spring, hitting its peak bloom during the warmer summer months and drying on the stem throughout the autumn and winter. It also tolerates heat and drought well.

As far as appearance, butterfly weed will bloom with cheerful orange blossoms that make beautiful cut flowers. It grows 2-4’ tall and will spread the same distance wide.

Once established, butterfly weed is very easy to care for. A little deadheading will keep plants blooming for longer, and you can enjoy the sight of butterflies flocking to the flowers.

Benefits of Butterfly Weed

This is one reason plants with names like butterfly bush are misleading. They do attract butterflies with nectar but don’t actually provide for their whole life cycle.

If you start seeds indoors, use peat pots like those in the picture instead of normal seed starting trays. This allows seedlings to be planted without disturbing the roots.

Occasionally, aphids can be a problem, but you can deal with them by spraying plants with a hose. In wet soils, plants can develop root or crown rot and may grow poorly. You can only deal with this by preventing it and planting in well-drained soil.