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ASCLEPIAS curassavica 'Red Butterfly'

Image of Asclepias curassavica 'Red Butterfly'

Maureen Gilmer

Family

Asclepiadaceae

Botanical Name

ASCLEPIAS curassavica 'Red Butterfly'

Plant Common Name

Bloodflower, Red Butterfly Milkweed, Scarlet Milkweed

General Description

Butterflies can’t resist this evergreen perennial. The cultivar ‘Red Butterfly’ of Indian butterfly weed are vigorous growers with brightly colored flower clusters in red, yellow that are darker than average. The stems are sturdy and flowers excellent for cutting.

Also known as blood flower, this butterfly weed is native to Mexico and South America and has naturalized throughout subtropical and tropical regions worldwide. Hummingbirds and bees are also regular visitors to the showy flowers.

The plant has upright branched stems which sport lance-shaped, opposite leaves of medium green. When broken, the stems emit a milky-white, sticky latex sap. In the heat of summer plants produce flattened clusters of small, complex red flowers each topped with an yellow 'crown'. These colorful flowers will blossom into fall if regularly deadheaded. In the tropics, flowers appear all year. The distinctive fruits are prominent, long, narrow follicles that split down one side to reveal many seeds topped with airy plumes of white hairs that catch the wind and carry the seeds away.

Adaptable to most well drained soils, blood flower is happiest in full sun. It is cold sensitive and may not return in the coldest locations. Plants may self-sow, so remove their seedpods before they open if you don't want any unexpected additions to your garden. The dried pods are also used in everlasting flower arrangements making these plants suitable for cutting gardens. Blood flower is effective when massed in a sunny garden. The tendency to spread easily and quickly via seed makes this plant an invasive species in some locations and it is often considered a weed in tropical zones.

Wide arrays of butterflies are attracted to blood flower. In fact, Monarch larvae and adults specifically rely on Asclepias for food and defense. When their young eat the foliage they become distasteful to predators.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 6

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    9 - 11

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Tender Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    2'-3' / 0.6m - 0.9m

  • Width

    1'-2' / 0.3m - 0.6m

  • Bloom Time

    Indeterminate

  • Native To

    Mexico, Central America, South America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Red, Gold

  • Flower Color Modifier

    Bicolor

  • Fruit Color

    Green, Tan

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Bedding Plant, Container, Cutflower, Dried Flower/Everlasting, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall, Tropical, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Attracts

    Hummingbirds, Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes