The Butterfly Weed, otherwise known as the Asclepias Tuberosa, Butterfly Flower, Butterfly Root, Butterfly Weed, Chieger Flower, Flux Root, Indian Paintbrush, Indian Potato, Orange Root, Pleurisy Root, Swallow Root, Tuber Root, White Root, Wind Root, or Windward Root, is a well known perennial plant native to the Rocky Mountains, Northeast, Southeast, and the Southwest of the United States.
Best known for its low maintenance and fast growth, this perennial will likely liven up your house (or garden) with its green-colored leaves. But, only if you learn how to take proper care of it for it to thrive.
Fortunately, taking care of your Butterfly Weed is not too difficult – as long as you follow our guidelines in this Butterfly Weed Care Guide. Now let’s get started.
The fundamental caring guidelines for every Butterfly Weed can be summed up into the following:
- Water: The Butterfly Weed prefers constant watering each week and more during the hot season.
- Light: Keep your Asclepias Tuberosa in an environment where it can receive full sun on a daily basis.
- Soil: Make sure to keep the Butterfly Weed in soil with well-draining properties, so ideally, one that is made of sand, loam, and clay.
And that’s practically it! If you keep these three factors in check, your Butterfly Weed will likely have all it needs for it to survive and even thrive.
Scientific / Botanical Aspects
In botanical terms, the Butterfly Weed belongs to the Asclepiadaceae family, the genus Asclepias and the species Tuberosa, hence its scientific (or botanical) name Asclepias Tuberosa (as-KLE-pee-us too-buh-ROH-suh).
As with other Asclepias’s, the Butterfly Weed is a herbaceous plant, which means it will die back to the ground every year.
The Butterfly Weed is a plant native to the Eastern and southern United States. This is why the Asclepias Tuberosa is used to growing in specific regions such as the states in Rocky Mountains, Northeast, Southeast, and the Southwest of the United States.
As a rule of thumb, we recommend to always keep in mind your plants’ native region and environment, since these are the conditions that your Butterfly Weed is most accustomed to, thus where it can most favorably.
With this in mind, the Asclepias Tuberosa will be most used to the heat zones in the 3 – 9 region, as the plant hardiness level falls between 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a and the ideal climate zone is between 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, A1, A2.
Growth and Size
In terms of size and growth, the Butterfly Weed is a relatively fast grower, which makes things tricky for any plant enthusiast.
But, what size of Butterfly Weed are we talking about? What can you expect in terms of height, spread and spacing? Let’s dig in…
The Asclepias Tuberosa can grow up to 1′ – 2′ (30cm – 60cm) in 1′ – 2′ (30cm – 60cm) and 1′ – 2′ (30cm – 60cm) in 1′ – 2′ (30cm – 60cm).
These dimensions make the Butterfly Weed a relatively medium perennial compared to others, so it’s best to keep this fact in mind since it will affect where you want to keep yours at home.
This is why experts recommend keeping an area of approximately 18″ – 24″ (45cm – 60cm) free so the Butterfly Weed can spread to its best extent.
In terms of watering, the Butterfly Weed is a fairly simple plant to take care of. This is mostly because it has a straightforward watering schedule and somewhat regular watering needs.
Specifically, most experts agree that the Asclepias Tuberosa prefers constant watering each week and more during the hot season.
Which is why it is considered a plant with relatively low needs in terms of water.
As a rule of thumb, you should remember to keep your Butterfly Weed in soil with well-draining characteristics, as these will guarantee the right conditions for your plant to grow and thrive.
When you consider this, this is why you should aim to choose soil that has good drainage, moist, and occasionally dry properties to keep the right moisture levels at all times.
But, if you want a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to watering your Butterfly Weed then you should consider the famous ‘finger’ test. To perform this test, you just need to put your finger in your plant’s soil and determine if it’s moist or not. If it is, then don’t water; if it isn’t, then please do. In any case, this test will allow you to know if your Butterfly Weed needs or does not need water, every time.
As mentioned earlier, the Butterfly Weed prefers to have soil with good drainage, moist, and occasionally dry properties, reason why you need to make the soil mix out of sand, loam, and clay.
This is why most experts agree that the Butterfly Weed requires soil with clay, loam (silt), sand, and shallow rocky, which will give you the right conditions it needs.
In addition to this, expert gardeners recommend having preferably neutral to acid soil.
Light and Placement
In terms of light & exposure, the Butterfly Weed requires full sun in order for it to thrive under the right conditions.
Most experts agree that this perennial will do well as long as you keep it in full sun, and it will be able to grow properly.
Specifically, we recommend that you place your Asclepias Tuberosa in little to partial shade (only 2-6 hours of direct sunlight a day), to full and direct sun (more 6 hours of direct sunlight per day).
Being a herbaceous plant, the Butterfly Weed will die back to the ground every year. However, you can expect it to have its ‘prime-time’ during the summer (early, mid, late).
You can expect your Butterfly Weed to flower around the spring and in the summer months from April to June (spring), and from July to September (summer).
In particular, this perennial is well known for its showy flowers around the plant enthusiast community.
The Butterfly Weed produces some beautiful orange, or orange, gold/yellow and red/burgundy flowers around this time of year.
The leaves from the Butterfly Weed have a beautiful green color during most of the year.
In particular, they have a simple arrangement with an alternate and whorled organization in its leaves. You can expect the leaves from your Asclepias Tuberosa to be around (3-6 inches) in size.
Attracts, Tolerance and Resistance
The Butterfly Weed is well known for being able to attract butterflies, so keep that in mind when choosing your plant, as you’ll likely end up finding one or another in your garden.
Additionally, it has a special tolerance for salt, drought, dry soil, rocky soil and animals like deer, so don’t worry if any of these come along, your Asclepias Tuberosa will be fine.
How should you then organize your garden to include your new Butterfly Weed? Here are some recommendations by expert gardeners.
Most Asclepias Tuberosa owners agree that this perennial will look great in most cottage and rustic gardens of all types. Other owners consider that they compliment well most gardens of informal and cottage, coastal garden, and in prairie and meadow styles.
In particular, the Butterfly Weed’s best location within your garden is in beds and borders, others use it for landscaping in a container, border, or a mass planting.
Butterfly Weed’s do well with some other plants beside it. One good companion plant is the Echinacea, which will pair up nicely with your leafy friend.
Others consider that a nice Allium will work well too, so choose whichever you find works best for you!
And we’ve come to an end. Fortunately, that’s everything you need to know about your Butterfly Weed to keep it safe and sound in your garden or home. Enjoy planting!