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ASCLEPIAS tuberosa (Gay Butterflies Group)

Image of Asclepias tuberosa (Gay Butterflies Group)

Mark A. Miller

Family

Asclepiadaceae

Botanical Name

ASCLEPIAS tuberosa( Gay Butterflies Group)

Plant Common Name

Butterfly Milkweed, Butterfly Weed, Gay Butterflies Butterfly Weed

General Description

Members of the Gay Butterflies group are distinguished by their very large flower clusters, vigorous sturdy plants and extended bloom time. They come in an array of colors such as tangerine orange, golden yellow and deep orange-red.

The colorful perennial wildflower butterfly weed is native to much of the United States and southern Canada. It is adapted to open meadows and old fields and offers bright color to sunny summer gardens. From summer to fall butterfly weed in the Gay Butterflies group produce very large clusters of bright orange, orange-red or yellow flowers that appear atop stems lined with green strap-like leaves. The individual flowers are complex and crown-shaped, and the stems emit a white milky latex if broken. The distinctive fruits are prominent bulbous follicles that split down one side to reveal many seeds topped with airy plumes of silvery white hairs that catch the wind and carry the seeds away. Butterfly weed will rebloom more reliably if spent flowers are removed. This tough perennial prefers a sunny location with well-drained, average soil. It has a substantial taproot that is sensitive to disturbance, so plants do not transplant well and are best propagated from seed. This adaptable and desirable perennial is great for sunny beds, wildflower or butterfly gardens. The dried pods are also used in everlasting flower arrangements making these plants equally suitable for cutting gardens. 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 for food and defense. When their young eat the foliage they become distasteful to predators.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 3

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    4 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    A2, A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    18"-24" / 45.7cm - 61.0cm

  • Width

    18"-24" / 45.7cm - 61.0cm

  • Bloom Time

    Early Summer, Summer, Late Summer, Early Fall

  • Native To

    North America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow, Orange, Orange Red

  • Fruit Color

    Brown, Sandy Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Cutflower, Mixed Border, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes