Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Butterfly Milkweed is a Great Pollinator Plant

It took me several years to establish Butterfly Milkweed in my backyard habitat garden. I started with seeds and transplants purchased from nurseries. All failed. I finally succeeded with starting transplants from seeds. I used Milkweed/Butterfly Flower Seeds – $2.49
from Botanical Interests. (affiliate link).

What I learned is a method that works for me. I start perennials in containers and keep them in a pot for an entire season. The next spring I plant them out in the spot I want them to grow. Many perennials seem to need the first year to grow and establish roots without having to compete with other more vigorous or established plants.

The other plant whose name is like Butterfly Milkweed is Butterfly Bush. The Butterfly Milkweed is the plant to grow. It is the host plant of Monarch butterfly larva and indigenous to North America.

Butterfly Bush is an invasive plant species that gardeners across the United States. It may not be invasive in Canada. That could change as the climate and growing conditions warm in the coming years. The Butterfly Bush produces nectar but not nutritious pollen. So, its food value to insects is less than a plant that provides both nectar and pollen. If you have limited garden space a more useful plant would be better.


Basic Facts about Butterfly Milkweed

  • Common name: Butterfly milkweed (Orange milkweed, Pleurisy root)
    Scientific name: Asclepias tuberosa L.
  • Native floristic province: Eastern woodlands, Great Plains, Eastern Coastal Plain, Western Deserts
  • Native range: North America
  • Habitat: open areas, prairies, open woodlands, and roadsides
  • Height: 12″ – 18″
  • Light needed: partial to full sun
  • Hardiness zones: 3 to 9
  • Bloom period: June – July
  • Blossom color: orange
butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) in bloom in my back garden.

Butterfly Milkweed Use by Insects

Attracts: many insect species; butterflies, bees and milkweed bugs and bees

Host plant to: Monarch butterfly


Growing Tips for Butterfly Milkweed

Growing Tips: easy to grow from seeds or cuttings, collect seed after pod has ripened but before they split open. cold-treated for three months; seeds sown directly in ground in the fall.

Milkweed/Butterfly Flower Seeds – $2.49

Butterfly weed are available from Botanical Interests.

Butterflies will seek out your garden when you grow this vigorous, heirloom perennial, a preferred nectar plant for monarchs and other pollinators. Beginning in summer, you will be treated to a profusion of fiery, red-orange flowers followed by decorative green seed pods. Drought tolerant once established; performs in poor soils. Native to much of the United States. A long-lasting addition to cut flower arrangements. Perennial in USDA zones 3 and warmer. Sap is toxic; avoid eye/skin contact and do not ingest.

from: Botanical Interests

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