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Butterfly Weed

2017 Perennial Plant of the Year
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Butterfly Weed

2017 Perennial Plant of the Year
  • Nectar from butterfly weed flower feeds butterflies, leaves feed Monarchs
  • Drought-tolerant naturalizer
  • Dried seed pods are favored by flower arrangers
Butterfly weed is a showy native perennial that features clusters of flowers in orange-yellow shades. The butterfly weed flower is a nectar source for many butterflies--and monarchs love the... Read More »

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Butterfly weed is a showy native perennial that features clusters of flowers in orange-yellow shades. The butterfly weed flower is a nectar source for many butterflies--and monarchs love the leaves. The seed pods from a butterfly weed plant are valued in dried floral arrangements. It is a part of the milkweed family, but butterfly weed doesn't produce the milky sap milkweeds are known for. This drought-tolerant sun lover is a favorite for butterfly gardens, naturalized areas and sunny borders.Asclepias tuberosa

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Questions about Butterfly Weed

Where is the best place for a Butterfly Weed plant?

Plant butterfly weed in the sunniest part of your garden, as it prefers full sun. It's best to plant these bareroots 2-3 feet apart in a location with well-draining soil. Butterfly weed is an excellent choice for locations with rocky or sandy soil, as they're quite tolerant of lower soil quality.

Design-wise, these native-born plants are stunning for their natural coloring and height, so let them stand tall in a part of the garden where their colors can stand out. This butterfly weed will thrive in zones 4-9. If you're wondering what zone your garden is in, use our Zone Finder tool to find out.

When is the best time to plant Butterfly Weed?

You can plant Butterfly Weed in both spring and fall-this is a truly flexible, tolerant perennial. If planting in springtime, plant your butterfly weed after any threat of frost has passed. For autumn planting, plant before the soil freezes in early- or mid-fall. If you order butterfly weed online from Spring Hill, we'll ship them at the right time to plant. Keep in mind that growing butterfly weed from seed can take 2-3 years before blooming and attracting butterflies.

Is Butterfly Weed Toxic?

Whether butterfly weed is toxic is a complex question. In short, it is mildly toxic to both humans and animals, but one of the less toxic milkweeds, and therefore a safer alternative to other milkweed species. Butterfly weed does not produce the milky sap created by standard milkweed, so it is both less messy and safer.

Does Butterfly Weed require any winter care?

Butterfly weed is a truly easy-care plant for fall and winter. It can be cut back after the plants begin to fade in late fall. Alternatively, you can leave your butterfly weed stalks intact over winter for a bit of height and texture that stands tall in the garden all season. Just cut back your butterfly weed stalks during spring cleanup.

Butterfly weed typically does not require mulching over winter, and is hardy in zones as low and 4. If you do choose to mulch, don't mulch over the crowns of the plants, as mulch can hold too much moisture and make the plants susceptible to rot.

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