Welcome to our guide on Asclepias tuberosa, also known as butterfly weed or milkweed. This stunning perennial flower is a must-have for any garden enthusiast looking to add vibrant blooms and support native plants. Asclepias tuberosa is not only a beautiful addition to your landscape but also a crucial host plant for the monarch butterfly. Let’s dive into the details of this summer-blooming plant and discover why it’s perfect for your pollinator garden.

Key Takeaways:

  • Asclepias tuberosa, also known as butterfly weed or milkweed, is a stunning perennial flower.
  • It is a native plant and a valuable addition to a pollinator garden.
  • Asclepias tuberosa serves as a host plant for monarch butterflies.
  • It features vibrant blooms and adds a pop of color to any garden landscape.
  • This summer-blooming plant is non-invasive and supports the ecosystem.

Asclepias Tuberosa Plant Specs

Asclepias tuberosa, also known as butterfly weed, is a stunning perennial plant that boasts striking characteristics. If you’re considering adding this native plant to your garden, it’s essential to know its specifications to ensure successful growth and vibrant blooms.

Perennial Zone and Native Plant

Asclepias tuberosa is a perennial plant that thrives in USDA hardiness zones 3a-9b. It is native to various regions in the United States and eastern Canada, including Alabama, Colorado, Florida, New York, Texas, and more. Being a native plant, it is well-adapted to the local climate and offers valuable ecosystem services to pollinators.

Growth Requirements

This beautiful plant thrives in full sun to partial shade. It requires at least six hours of direct sunlight daily to ensure optimal growth and blooms. The ideal soil for Asclepias tuberosa is well-draining, sandy soil. It can tolerate a range of soil types, including loam and clay, as long as the soil is well-draining to prevent root rot.

Height and Spacing

Asclepias tuberosa can reach a height of 2 to 3 feet, making it an excellent choice for creating varied heights in garden landscapes. When planting, make sure to space the plants 15-18 inches apart to allow for proper airflow and prevent overcrowding.

Flower Color and Cultivars

The flowers of Asclepias tuberosa are a delightful display of bright orange to yellow-orange hues. Their vibrant color attracts pollinators, adding a lively touch to your garden. Additionally, there is a cultivar called ‘Hello Yellow’ that features beautiful yellow blooms, providing an alternative color option for your garden.

Plant SpecsDetails
Perennial Zone3a-9b
Native PlantNative to various regions in the United States and eastern Canada
Light RequirementsFull sun to partial shade
Height2 to 3 feet
Spacing15-18 inches
Flower ColorBright orange to yellow-orange, with a cultivar option for yellow blooms
Cultivars‘Hello Yellow’

Asclepias tuberosa is not only visually appealing but also a beneficial plant for attracting pollinators. Its striking flowers and unique growth habits make it a standout choice for any garden or landscape design. In the next section, we will explore the incredible benefits of incorporating Asclepias tuberosa into your garden.

Asclepias Tuberosa Pros

Asclepias tuberosa, also known as butterfly weed, offers numerous advantages that make it a highly desirable addition to any garden. Let’s explore the key benefits of incorporating this vibrant perennial flower:

  • Monarch Butterflies: Asclepias tuberosa serves as a crucial nectar source and host plant for monarch butterflies. By including this plant in your garden, you can provide a vital habitat for these beautiful creatures.
  • Beneficial Pollinators: In addition to attracting monarch butterflies, Asclepias tuberosa also acts as a magnet for other beneficial pollinators, including bees and hummingbirds. It creates a thriving ecosystem that supports a diverse range of pollinating insects and birds.
  • Colorful Addition: With its stunning clusters of bright orange to yellow-orange flowers, Asclepias tuberosa adds a vibrant and eye-catching element to your garden landscape. It brings a pop of color that is both visually appealing and inviting to pollinators.
  • Blooming Season: Asclepias tuberosa typically blooms during the months of June and July, providing a burst of color and nectar during the summer season. In favorable conditions, it may even rebloom in August and September, extending the blooming period.
  • Non-Invasive: Unlike some other milkweed species, Asclepias tuberosa is not considered invasive. It can be incorporated into garden designs without the worry of it spreading uncontrollably and crowding out other plants.
  • Chrysalis Formation: The thick and rugged leaves of Asclepias tuberosa provide an ideal environment for chrysalis formation. This makes it a valuable plant for supporting the complete life cycle of monarch butterflies, as well as other butterfly species.
  • Cut Flowers: The vibrant blooms of Asclepias tuberosa make it a fantastic option for cut flower arrangements. You can bring the beauty of these colorful flowers indoors, creating stunning floral displays while still providing nectar for pollinators.
  • Deer Resistant: Asclepias tuberosa is known for its resistance to deer browsing. If you have a garden frequented by deer, this plant can serve as a valuable addition, ensuring that your flowers remain intact and unharmed.

“Asclepias tuberosa offers a vibrant burst of color, attracts beneficial pollinators, and supports the life cycle of monarch butterflies. Its non-invasiveness, chrysalis-forming leaves, versatility as a cut flower, and resistance to deer make it a valuable addition to any garden.”

In summary, Asclepias tuberosa presents a multitude of advantages, from its aesthetic appeal to its vital role in supporting pollinators and butterfly populations. By incorporating this stunning perennial flower into your garden, you not only create a visually appealing landscape but also contribute to the preservation and conservation of these essential creatures.

In the upcoming section, we will delve into some considerations and potential drawbacks of growing Asclepias tuberosa.

Asclepias Tuberosa Cons

Asclepias tuberosa

While Asclepias tuberosa, also known as butterfly weed or milkweed, offers numerous advantages for gardens and pollinators, there are a few cons to consider when incorporating this plant into your landscape.

1. Monarch Caterpillars

One drawback of Asclepias tuberosa is that it may not be the preferred host plant for monarch butterflies to lay their eggs on. The rough leaves of this plant can pose a challenge for monarch caterpillars.

2. Transplanting Difficulties

Transplanting Asclepias tuberosa can be difficult due to its deep taproot. This can make it challenging to establish the plant in new locations or when attempting to move it to a different area of the garden.

3. Aphids

Aphids are attracted to Asclepias tuberosa and can cause damage to the plant. These small insects feed on the sap of the plant, potentially reducing its growth and overall health.

4. Clay Soil

Asclepias tuberosa prefers well-draining dry soils and may struggle to thrive in clay soil. Clay soil tends to retain water, which can lead to root rot and other issues that can negatively impact the plant’s health.

5. Time to Maturity

Asclepias tuberosa takes time to reach maturity and produce mature plants. It can take up to 2 years for this plant to fully establish itself and showcase its vibrant blooms in the garden.

6. Leaf Spot Fungus, Rusts, and Milkweed Diseases

Like many milkweed plants, Asclepias tuberosa can be susceptible to various diseases, including leaf spot fungus and rusts. These diseases can impact the plant’s overall health and appearance. It’s important to monitor the plant and take appropriate measures to prevent or address any disease issues.

7. ‘Hello Yellow’ Cultivar

The ‘Hello Yellow’ cultivar of Asclepias tuberosa may attract fewer pollinators compared to the orange variety. If attracting a wide range of pollinators is a priority, it may be more beneficial to opt for the orange variety of Asclepias tuberosa.

Pros and Cons of Asclepias Tuberosa

Attracts pollinators, including monarch butterfliesNot a preferred host plant for monarch caterpillars
Non-invasive and nativeTransplanting difficulties
Summer blooming with vibrant flowersAphid attraction
Provides a colorful addition to the gardenChallenges in clay soil
Chrysalis formation and cut flower potentialTime to reach maturity
Deer resistantLeaf spot fungus, rusts, and other diseases

Despite these drawbacks, Asclepias tuberosa can still be a valuable addition to a garden landscape. By understanding and addressing these cons, gardeners can successfully grow and appreciate the vibrant beauty and ecological benefits of this stunning perennial flower.

Butterfly Weed Plant Propagation

There are several ways to propagate Asclepias tuberosa, also known as butterfly weed. Each method offers unique benefits and options for successfully growing this vibrant plant in your garden.

Harvesting Seeds

The first method involves harvesting seeds from the mature seed pods of Asclepias tuberosa in the fall. Simply collect the pods and carefully open them to retrieve the seeds. These seeds can be sown directly in the fall or stratified in the refrigerator for two months before starting them indoors. This stratification process helps to break the dormancy of the seeds.

Sowing Options

When it comes to sowing the Asclepias tuberosa seeds, you have a couple of options. One option is to sow the seeds directly outdoors after the final frost in the spring. Make sure to stratify them before sowing to improve germination rates. Another option is to start the seeds indoors. This can be done by stratifying the seeds and then starting them in individual pots or trays.


If you have an established Asclepias tuberosa plant, you can propagate it through division. Carefully dig up the mature plant and separate it into smaller sections, making sure each section has a good portion of roots. Replant the divided sections in suitable locations in your garden.

Winter Sowing

For a more natural approach, you can try winter sowing Asclepias tuberosa seeds. This method takes advantage of the cold stratification process that occurs during the winter months. Simply sow the seeds in containers or directly in the ground before winter sets in and let nature take its course.

Water Germination

Another interesting propagation method is water germination. Start by placing the Asclepias tuberosa seeds in a cup of water and let them soak for 24 hours. After soaking, transfer the seeds to a damp paper towel or seed-starting mix. Keep the paper towel or mix moist and watch as the seeds germinate.

Choose the propagation method that best suits your preferences and gardening conditions. Whether you opt for seed harvesting, sowing, division, winter sowing, or water germination, you’ll have the opportunity to grow beautiful and vibrant Asclepias tuberosa plants in your garden.

Asclepias Tuberosa Growing Tips

Asclepias tuberosa growing tips

To successfully grow Asclepias tuberosa, it is important to provide it with the right growing conditions. Follow these tips to ensure the best results:

  1. Soil Requirements: Asclepias tuberosa thrives in sandy, well-draining dry soils. It is important to avoid heavy or clay soils that can retain too much moisture.
  2. Fertilization: Use organic slow-release fertilizer to supplement the soil with necessary nutrients. Apply the fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Patience: Growing Asclepias tuberosa requires patience as it can take time to establish and showcase its full potential in a garden. Be patient and give the plant time to grow and thrive.
  4. Establishing Best Growing Conditions: Experiment by planting Asclepias tuberosa in different spots to find the location where it grows best in your garden. Observe the plant’s response to different light and soil conditions and make adjustments accordingly.
  5. Pruning: Prune spent blooms in spring to mid-summer to encourage reblooming and maintain the plant’s shape and appearance.
  6. Transplanting: If transplanting is necessary, it is best to do so in early spring or fall when the plant is dormant. This gives it a higher chance of survival and successful establishment in its new location.
  7. Seed Pod Control: If you wish to prevent excessive seeding, you can cut off the seed pods before they mature. Alternatively, you can control the seed pods by using twist ties or organza bags for seed collection.

By following these growing tips, you can ensure that your Asclepias tuberosa plants thrive and contribute to a beautiful and pollinator-friendly garden.

Butterfly Pipeline

Asclepias tuberosa, also known as butterfly weed, is a valuable plant that serves as a nectar source for a diverse range of pollinators. It has a special attraction for butterflies, including the iconic monarch butterfly, due to its nectar-rich flowers.

Butterflies are drawn to the vibrant blooms of Asclepias tuberosa, making it a key plant for creating a butterfly-friendly garden. The nectar provided by this plant serves as a vital energy source for butterflies, allowing them to thrive and contribute to the pollination process.

However, butterflies aren’t the only visitors to this nectar buffet. Bees, other insects, and even hummingbirds are also lured by the abundant nectar of Asclepias tuberosa. These pollinators play a crucial role in maintaining biodiversity and supporting healthy ecosystems.

By including Asclepias tuberosa in your garden, you can create a thriving ecosystem that supports and nourishes these important pollinators. Not only will you enjoy the sight of beautiful butterflies fluttering around, but you will also contribute to the conservation of these vital species.

Benefits of Asclepias Tuberosa for Pollinators:

  • Provides a rich nectar source for butterflies, bees, insects, and hummingbirds
  • Attracts a diverse range of pollinators, contributing to biodiversity
  • Supports the survival of monarch butterflies, serving as a host plant for their caterpillars


“Asclepias tuberosa is like a pipeline for butterflies. Its nectar-rich flowers attract a wide variety of butterfly species, including the majestic monarch butterfly.” – Gardening Enthusiast

Fun Fact:

Did you know that Asclepias tuberosa is one of the preferred nectar sources for the queen and soldier butterflies?

Beneficial PollinatorsPrimary Nectar Source
ButterfliesAsclepias tuberosa
BeesAsclepias tuberosa
InsectsAsclepias tuberosa
HummingbirdsAsclepias tuberosa

By planting Asclepias tuberosa, you can create a vibrant and diverse garden that supports pollinators and adds a touch of natural beauty to your outdoor space.

Companion and Understudy Plants

Asclepias tuberosa, also known as butterfly weed or milkweed, thrives when paired with companion plants that complement its vibrant blooms. These companion plants not only enhance the visual appeal of the garden but also provide a diverse and harmonious landscape for pollinators. Some excellent companion plants for Asclepias tuberosa include:

  • Coreopsis tripteris: Also known as tall tickseed, Coreopsis tripteris features lovely yellow flowers that blend beautifully with the bright orange hues of Asclepias tuberosa.
  • Echinacea purpurea: Commonly known as purple coneflower, Echinacea purpurea adds a touch of elegance with its vibrant pink-purple flowers, creating a stunning contrast alongside Asclepias tuberosa.
  • Liatris aspera: With its tall and slender purple spikes, Liatris aspera adds vertical interest to the garden and complements the showy blooms of Asclepias tuberosa.
  • Rudbeckia hirta: Also known as black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta brings cheerful yellow flowers to the garden, making it an ideal companion for Asclepias tuberosa.

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Another milkweed species that can serve as an understudy for Asclepias tuberosa is Asclepias verticillata. This plant shares similar height and habitat requirements and can be a suitable substitute if needed. By carefully selecting these companion and understudy plants, gardeners can create a garden landscape that is not only visually appealing but also provides a thriving ecosystem for pollinators.

Companion and Understudy Plants

Companion PlantsDescription
Coreopsis tripterisYellow-flowered plant that complements the bright orange hues of Asclepias tuberosa.
Echinacea purpureaPurple coneflower with vibrant pink-purple flowers that contrast beautifully with Asclepias tuberosa.
Liatris asperaTall plant with slender purple spikes, adding vertical interest to the garden alongside Asclepias tuberosa.
Rudbeckia hirtaBlack-eyed Susan with cheerful yellow flowers that pair well with Asclepias tuberosa.
Asclepias verticillataMilkweed species that serves as an understudy for Asclepias tuberosa, sharing similar height and habitat requirements.

Where to Buy Butterfly Weed Plants and Seeds

To obtain Asclepias tuberosa plants and seeds, it is recommended to purchase them from reputable sources. Online nurseries, such as Joyful Butterfly and Etsy, offer Asclepias tuberosa plants and seeds. It is important to ensure that the plant is purchased by its botanical (scientific) name, Asclepias tuberosa, to avoid confusion with other milkweed species. Local nurseries may also carry this plant, so it can be beneficial to check with them as well. By purchasing from reliable sources, gardeners can be confident in the quality and authenticity of the Asclepias tuberosa they are obtaining.

Online NurseriesLocal Nurseries
Joyful ButterflyContact local nurseries in your area


Asclepias tuberosa, also known as butterfly weed or milkweed, is a stunning perennial flower that brings vibrant blooms to gardens. With its bright orange to yellow-orange flowers, it adds a pop of color to any landscape. But its appeal goes beyond its aesthetics.

By including Asclepias tuberosa in your garden, you can create a thriving pollinator garden. This native plant attracts a wide variety of pollinators, including bees, hummingbirds, and monarch butterflies. As a host plant for monarch butterflies, it plays a crucial role in their life cycle, providing a habitat for the caterpillars to feed and the butterflies to lay their eggs. By supporting the native plant population and providing a food source for these pollinators, you contribute to the conservation of these important species.

In addition to its pollinator-friendly attributes, Asclepias tuberosa is a non-invasive plant, making it a welcome addition to any garden. Its summer blooming cycle ensures that your garden will be adorned with vibrant blooms during the warmer months. Whether you have a dedicated pollinator garden or simply want to attract more pollinators to your existing landscape, Asclepias tuberosa is a valuable plant to consider.


What is Asclepias tuberosa?

Asclepias tuberosa, commonly known as butterfly weed or milkweed, is a vibrant and attractive perennial flower that is native to most of the Continental US and eastern Canada.

Why is Asclepias tuberosa popular for pollinator gardens?

Asclepias tuberosa is a popular choice for pollinator gardens due to its ability to attract a wide range of beneficial pollinators, including monarch butterflies.

What color are the flowers of Asclepias tuberosa?

The flowers of Asclepias tuberosa are typically bright orange to yellow-orange, but there is also a cultivar called ‘Hello Yellow’ that features yellow blooms.

Is Asclepias tuberosa an invasive species?

Asclepias tuberosa is not considered invasive and adds a bright pop of color to any garden landscape.

Where is Asclepias tuberosa native to?

Asclepias tuberosa is native to a wide range of regions in the United States and eastern Canada, including Alabama, Colorado, Florida, New York, Texas, and more.

What are the advantages of growing Asclepias tuberosa in a garden?

Asclepias tuberosa serves as both a nectar source and a host plant for monarch butterflies, attracts a wide range of beneficial pollinators, and adds a beautiful pop of color to the garden landscape.

Are there any drawbacks to growing Asclepias tuberosa?

Asclepias tuberosa has a few drawbacks, such as being challenging for monarch caterpillars to eat, difficulties with transplanting, susceptibility to aphids, and being challenging to grow in clay soil.

How can I propagate Asclepias tuberosa?

Asclepias tuberosa can be propagated through harvesting and sowing seeds, starting seeds indoors or outdoors, and through division.

What are the best growing conditions for Asclepias tuberosa?

Asclepias tuberosa thrives in sandy, well-draining dry soils and requires full sun to partial shade. It is also important to be patient as it takes time to establish in the garden.

What pollinators does Asclepias tuberosa attract?

Asclepias tuberosa attracts a wide variety of pollinators, including butterflies (such as monarchs), bees, hummingbirds, and other insects.

What plants pair well with Asclepias tuberosa in a garden?

Asclepias tuberosa pairs well with companion plants such as Coreopsis tripteris, Echinacea purpurea, Liatris aspera, and Rudbeckia hirta. It can also be complemented by Asclepias verticillata, another milkweed species.

Where can I buy Asclepias tuberosa plants and seeds?

Asclepias tuberosa plants and seeds can be purchased from online nurseries such as Joyful Butterfly and Etsy, as well as from local nurseries. It is important to ensure that the plant is purchased by its botanical name to avoid confusion.

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Butterflies, Butterfly Food,

Last Update: December 30, 2023