Butterfly weed has vibrant orange clusters of flowers that attract many butterflies, bees and other colorful insects. It is a wonderful plant for pollinator gardens. Of special note and one that makes it a great choice, it is a host plant for the Monarch. Monarch butterflies rely on milkweeds. They lay their eggs on them and this is the only type of plant the caterpillars eat.
Butterfly weed blooms in mid-summer. The leaves are bright green and linear in shape.It has a strong tab root and it is a long-lived perennial. The tap root makes it difficult to move. Butterfly Weed grows best in full sun, in soil that does not have much organic matter in it. It likes very dry soil.
Butterfly weed emerges from the soil late in the spring as do other milkweeds. Be patient it will be there when the Monarch arrive. After flowering the flowerheads develop in to seed pods which are about ½ to ¾ inch around and about 4 to 6 inches long. When ripe the pods open along a seam in the side of the pod. Then the seeds take flight on silky parachutes attached to them. If you want to grow them from seed, it is best to get them before they reach this point. When you note that the pods are just starting to open grab the ones you want. Leave some to reseed. Put your thumb on the silk in the pod and gently pull off the seed. Plant the seed shortly after that in the fall. The plants will germinate in the fall.
Great companions are Purple coneflower, Monarda, Black-eyed Susan's, Swamp milkweed, Common milkweed and Asters. I always include grasses in the planting to make it look more natural. Butterfly weed is a great plant for sunny dry areas of your garden.
Asclepias tuberosa - Butterflyweed
-Is a host plant for the Monarch Butterfly
-Bright orange flowers
-Attracts a wide variety of insects
-Zone: 3 to 9
-Height: 1 to 1 1/2 feet tall