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Asclepias tuberosa - Butterfly Weed (photo credit: Missouri Botanical Garden)


Asclepias tuberosa

Butterfly Weed

Asclepias tuberosa, or Butterfly Weed is native to much of the United States, very much at home in open meadows. old fields, roadsides, and sunny summer gardens. From early to midsummer butterfly weed produces very showy clusters of bright yellow-orange flowers that appear atop stems lined with green strap-like leaves.

Plants will rebloom in late summer to early fall if spent flowers are removed. Flowers give way to prominent, spindle-shaped seed pods which split open when ripe, releasing numerous silky-tailed seeds for dispersal by the wind. Seed pods are valued in dried flower arrangements, pick when still green. Asclepias tuberosa has a nice long bloom period from late spring throughout the summer.

As its name would suggest, a wide array of butterflies are attracted to butterfly weed. In fact, Monarch larvae and adults specifically rely on Asclepias tuberosa for food and defense. When their caterpillars eat the foliage they become distasteful to predators. Butterfly Weed is an important and beautiful addition to any sun garden!


One of our showiest Missouri Natives, Asclepias tuberosa is a MSD Stormwater BMP Native plant! Asclepias is used in Infiltration Basins & Dry Swales and Bioretention & Organic Filters-Formal applications. Treated only when necessary with non-systemic, biological insecticides as to not cause harm to the Monarch larvae.

2017 Perennial Plant of the Year

Host plant for the following butterflies (nectar)-- American Copper, American Lady, Baltimore Checkerspot, Banded Hairstreak, Black Swallowtail, Bronze Copper, Cabbage White, Common Buckeye, Delaware Skipper, Eastern Tailed-Blue, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Fiery Skipper, Giant Swallowtail, Gray Hairstreak , Great Spangled Fritillary, Hoary Edge, Little Glassywing, Lorquin Admiral, Monarch (exclusive food source for the caterpillar), Mourning Cloak, Orange Sulphur, Painted Lady, Pearl Crescent, Peck's Skipper, Pipevine Swallowtail, Queen, Question Mark, Red Admiral, Red-banded Hairstreak, Red-spotted Purple, Sachem, Silver-spotted Skipper, Silvery Checkerspot, Sleepy Orange, Southern Cloudywing, Spicebush Swallowtail, Spring Azure, Two-tailed Swallowtail , Variegated Fritillary, Viceroy, Zabulon, Zebra Longwing, Zebra Swallowtail

Host plant for the Monarch caterpillar (food source) and 11 other butterflies and moths!

Butterfly Weed Growing and Maintenance Tips:

Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Drought tolerant. Does well in poor, dry soils. New growth emerges late in the spring. Butterfly weed does not transplant well due to its deep taproot, try to leave undisturbed once established.



12-30 Inches



12-18 Inches


Hardiness Zone:

3 - 9

Characteristics & Attributes for Asclepias tuberosa

Soil Moisture Preference
Attracts Wildlife
Critter Resistance
Deer Resistant
Season of Interest (Flowering)
Growth Habit
Border or Bed
Rock Garden
Focal Point
Salt Tolerant
Drought Tolerant
Mass Planting
Rain Garden
Great Companion Plants for Asclepias tuberosa
Slender Mountain Mint Slender Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum tenuifolium )
Coneflower Coneflower (Echinacea 'Cheyenne Spirit')
Catmint Catmint (Nepeta x faassenii 'Walkers Low')
Coneflower Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea 'White Swan')
Butterfly Bush Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii 'Wisteria Lane')
Blazing Star Blazing Star (Liatris ligulistylis )
Similar Plants to Asclepias tuberosa
Swamp Milkweed Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata 'Ice Ballet')
Milkweed, Swamp Milkweed, Swamp (Asclepias incarnata )
Common Milkweed Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca )
Butterfly Weed Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa 'Hello Yellow')