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Asclepius, Orange

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.

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Plant Details +

Plant Type Herbaceous perennial
Height 1 to 2.5'
Spread 1 to 1.5'
Spacing 1.5'
Hardiness Zone: 3 to 9
Attracts Butterflies
Exposure Full sun
Foliage Narrow, Lance-Shaped Green Leaves
Bloom Yellow/orange Clump of Small Flowers
Bloomtime June to August

General Information +

Botanical: Asclepias tuberosa

Common: butterfly weed

Family: Apocynaceae

Tip: Tolerate of: Deer, Drought, Erosion, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil

Use: To attract butterflies to the garden.

Garden Use: Flowers form clusters up to 2" across. A good flower for arrangements and perfect for wildflower gardens, butterfly gardens, meadows, prairies, or naturalized plant areas. Also effective in sunny borders.

Planting/Care Instructions +

Culture: Native to eastern North America. Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Drought tolerant. Does well in poor, dry soils. New growth tends to emerge late in the spring. Plants are easily grown from seed, but are somewhat slow to establish and may take 2-3 years to produce flowers. Mature plants may freely self-seed in the landscape if seed pods are not removed prior to splitting open. Butterfly weed does not transplant well due to its deep taproot, and is probably best left undisturbed once established.

Pests or Diseases: No serious insect or disease problems. Crown rot can be a problem in wet, poorly drained soils. Susceptible to rust and leaf spot.

Moisture: Dry to medium

Planting Instructions: Dig a hole large enough to encompass the roots without bending or circling. Set the plant in place so the crown (part of the plant where the root meets the stem) is about 1-2 inches below the soil surface. Cover with soil to the original soil surface and water thoroughly.