Ernst Benary® Inc.
Plant Common Name
Butterfly Milkweed, Butterfly Weed
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 early to midsummer butterfly weed produces very showy 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. Plants will rebloom in late summer to early fall if spent flowers are removed. 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 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.
AHS Heat Zone
9 - 3
USDA Hardiness Zone
4 - 9
Full Sun, Partial Sun
24"-36" / 61.0cm - 91.4cm
12"-24" / 30.5cm - 61.0cm
Early Summer, Summer, Late Summer, Early Fall
North America, Canada
Clay, Loam, Sand
Spring, Summer, Fall