Asclepias flowers are a nectar source for many butterflies and leaves are a food source for monarch butterfly larvae (caterpillars). Asclepia also draws hummingbirds and hummingbird clearwing moths to the garden for nectar. Asclepias, commonly called butterfly weed, is a tuberous rooted, native perennial which occurs in dry/rocky open woods, glades, prairies, fields, and roadsides. It typically grows in a clump to 1-3′ tall and features clusters of bright orange to yellow-orange flowers on upright to reclining, hairy stems with narrow, lance-shaped leaves. Unlike many of the other milkweeds, this species does not have milky-sapped stems. Flowers give way to prominent, spindle-shaped seed pods (3-6″ long) which split open when ripe releasing numerous silky-tailed seeds for dispersal by the wind. Seed pods are valued in dried flower arrangements. Long bloom period from late spring throughout the summer.
Asclepias is essential to creating a habitat for the beloved Monarch butterfly’s survival, as they are the only plants on which Monarch caterpillars will feed. Asclepia is great for butterfly gardens, meadows, prairies, or naturalized/native plant areas. Also effective in sunny borders. Whether massing plants in large drifts or sprinkling them throughout a prairie or meadow, Asclepia is one of the showiest native wildflowers. It is easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Asclepia even does well in poor, dry soils and is drought tolerant.