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Butterfly weed

Asclepias selections

Butterfly weed

Brightly colored butterfly weed is a butterfly magnet, attracting many kinds of butterflies to its colorful blooms. Monarch butterfly larvae feed on its leaves but seldom harm this native plant. It is slow to emerge in the spring, so mark its location to avoid accidental digging before new growth starts. If you don't want it to spread, deadhead faded blooms before seedpods mature. It is sometimes called milkweed because it produces a milky sap when cut.

Plant Type:
Plant Height:
2-4 feet tall
Plant Width:
2-3 feet wide
Landscape Uses:
Beds & Borders
Special Features:
Flowers,Fragrant,Winter Interest,Dried Flowers,Attracts Birds,Drought Tolerant,Tolerates Wet Soil,Deer Resistant,Easy to Grow
Top Varieties

Asclepias tuberosa offers fiery orange flowers that harmonize well with red, yellow, and other hot hues in the perennial border. Because it has a long taproot, it grows best in well-drained soil and is difficult to transplant once established. Grows to 3 feet tall. Zones 4-9
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Asclepias tuberosa 'Hello Yellow' has the same butterfly-attracting qualities as the species but produces clear yellow flower clusters instead of orange ones. Grows to 3 feet tall. Zones 4-9
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Asclepias sullivantii is similar to common milkweed except that it has smooth stems and leaves and larger flowers. The leaves have a distinctive upward sweep. The plant grows 3 feet tall. Zones 3-7
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Asclepias incarnata 'Soulmate' is a long-blooming selection with delightful rosy pink blooms. Zones 3-8
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Asclepias incarnata is a North American native species that grows well in wet sites. It produces fragrant pink flowers on 4-foot-tall plants. Zones 3-8
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Plant It With

Blue-flowered catmint complements any of the colors of butterfly weed or milkweed. Its silvery-gray foliage creates a nice base for butterfly weed, which sometimes loses its lower leaves.


Bright gold coreopsis coordinates beautifully with butterfly weed. The two make a stunning combination in the sunny border.


The mounded sprays of fountaingrass echo the arching form of butterfly weed flower clusters. The airiness of fountaingrass also softens the somewhat coarse texture of butterfly weed.