General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Herb/Forb
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Water Preferences: Mesic
Dry Mesic
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 4a -34.4 °C (-30 °F) to -31.7 °C (-25 °F)
Plant Height: 12 - 36 inches
Plant Spread: 12 - 36 inches
Flowers: Showy
Flower Color: Orange
Bloom Size: Under 1"
Flower Time: Late spring or early summer
Late summer or early fall
Other: Deadheading flowers ensures more flowering throughout the season.
Underground structures: Taproot
Uses: Will Naturalize
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Resistances: Deer Resistant
Rabbit Resistant
Drought tolerant
Toxicity: Leaves are poisonous
Roots are poisonous
Propagation: Seeds: Provide light
Stratify seeds: 1 month at 40 degrees
Days to germinate: 30 to 120
Suitable for wintersowing
Propagation: Other methods: Cuttings: Root
Pollinators: Moths and Butterflies
Containers: Needs excellent drainage in pots
Miscellaneous: Tolerates poor soil
Awards and Recognitions: Other: 2017 Perennial Plant of the Year; 2010 Georgia Gold Medal Winner

Victory Seed Company sells seeds of Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa).

Common names
  • Butterfly Milkweed
  • Pleurisy Root
  • Orange Milkweed
  • Milkweed
  • Indian Paintbrush

Photo Gallery
Location: NC
Date: June 2017

Courtesy Outsidepride
Location: FPF Home, Warren County, Kentucky
Date: 2022-06-23
Location: FPF Home, Warren County, Kentucky
Date: 2022-06-19
With ​Oncopeltus fasciatus, Large Milkweed Bug.

Courtesy Crownsville Nursery

Photo Courtesy of Lazy S'S Farm Nursery.
This plant is tagged in:
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  • Posted by Catmint20906 (PNW WA half hour south of Olympia - Zone 8a) on Aug 8, 2014 2:34 PM concerning plant:
    Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a larval host plant for the Monarch and Queen butterflies, and is a key Monarch Way Station plant.

    According to NPIN, this plant also has special value to native, bumble, and honey bees, including leafcutter, green sweat, small carpenter, small resin, and sweat bees.

    Butterfly weed reportedly attracts beneficial insects to the garden, such as hoverflies, parasitic mini-wasps, and ladybugs. These beneficial insects feed on common garden pests.

    Remove the seed pods before they split open in order to avoid any unwanted self-seeding.
  • Posted by kqcrna (Cincinnati, Oh - Zone 6a) on Sep 29, 2011 11:52 AM concerning plant:
    If deadheaded after first bloom cycle in early summer, Asclepias tuberosa will rebloom in late summer. Deadheading also avoids attracting droves of milkweed bugs. The disadvantage of deadheading is no future volunteer plants.
  • Posted by Sharon (Calvert City, KY - Zone 7a) on Dec 3, 2011 12:40 AM concerning plant:
    Butterfly weed is a native of North America. It was used by Native Americans both as a paste for curing cuts or scratches and as a tea to induce perspiration during fevers. It was also used as an expectorant in severe respiratory problems including pleurisy and whooping cough.

    Because it contains toxins its use is no longer recommended.

    The species is considered rare or protected in some states.
  • Posted by farmerdill (Augusta Georgia - Zone 8a) on Oct 18, 2014 12:22 PM concerning plant:
    When I was a kid, this plant was known locally as Chigger Weed. While it never appeared in numbers, the flowers were avoided because they attracted so many chiggers. In that area at that time, chiggers were more despised than ticks. There are a lot of plants called chigger weed in different locales, but the blossoms of this plant seem to pull them all the way from the next county.
  • Posted by Cyclaminist (Minneapolis, Minnesota - Zone 5a) on May 5, 2016 11:15 PM concerning plant:
    Unlike common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) and several other milkweed species, this one does not spread by underground rhizomes. It is short and stays in a neat clump, which gets bigger every year. It's a good choice for small yards or formal gardens.

    The root is a thick taproot, not a tuber as the species name tuberosa would suggest. In the case of this species, the Latin word tuberosa means "having swellings" and refers to bulges that sometimes develop on the taproot.
  • Posted by Newyorkrita (North Shore, Long Island, NY ) on Sep 29, 2011 9:35 PM concerning plant:
    The original orange colored Butterfly Weed is a host plant of the Monarch Butterflies.
  • Posted by Deebie (midstate South Carolina - Zone 8a) on Jun 20, 2017 5:02 PM concerning plant:
    Lovely orange flowers much loved by butterflies. This plant is late to appear in spring, so be sure not to weed it out of your garden by mistake or plant something else in its place.
  • Posted by Mindy03 (Delta KY) on Jun 25, 2012 7:23 PM concerning plant:
    Honey bees get nectar from this plant which produces a light colored honey.
  • Posted by Zazinnia (SC - Zone 8a) on May 27, 2016 6:37 PM concerning plant:
    Reliable bloomer. I cut the spent flowers and it reblooms within a few weeks. I don't see many butterflies on mine, but the bees love it.
  • Posted by Deebie (midstate South Carolina - Zone 8a) on Aug 24, 2014 7:12 AM concerning plant:
    Seeds have parachute-like wings that enable them to be easily dispersed by the wind or by hitchhiking on animals, clothing, etc. To keep the seeds from blowing away after they mature and the pod splits, loosely tie the pods to keep them from fully opening, using twist tie.
  • Posted by Chillybean (Iowa - Zone 5a) on Jul 30, 2015 12:53 PM concerning plant:
    Finally, I have success with this plant! It took planting 5 flats from the nursery. I asked the owner to start these for me because I had a terrible time getting any to grow here, seed or plugs. This was my last resort. My one condition was NO chemicals. He started some in a greenhouse, but they died after they germinated nicely. He said they usually prevent that with a fungicide, but I wanted no chemicals. I am still firm on that, if I purchase plants intending insects to feed off them, they better not have any 'cides on them.

    He started more, but kept them outside. Because spring was cold, it took them a long time to germinate. They were quite puny when I brought them home. Once it was consistently warm, then they really began growing. I did not expect any flowers the first year, but to my surprise I am getting excellent blooms... just beautiful. Even more so with the Monarch caterpillars on them. The Monarchs do use some of the flowers for nectar, but I see more of them on the Blazingstars.

    I believe I discovered why I had a hard time growing these previously. I put them in clay soil and watered them too much. They like drier conditions and sandy/rocky soil. After the initial planting and maybe watering them for a week, the only water they get now is whatever the Lord provides.
  • Posted by BookerC1 (Mackinaw, IL - Zone 5a) on Jun 18, 2012 8:35 AM concerning plant:
    I love this bright little plant, but have terrible problems with aphids on them. I never see aphids in my garden unless I plant butterfly weed, and then the stems are entirely covered with the little buggers. I don't want to use chemical controls because I planted it in a butterfly and bee garden, so I usually resort to spraying with a hard blast of water from my hose. I'm glad they are nowhere near my roses!
  • Posted by robertduval14 (Milford, New Hampshire - Zone 5b) on Mar 3, 2013 7:57 PM concerning plant:
    Monarch butterflies will always find their way to these plants as they are host plants for their young.
  • Posted by KFredenburg (Black Hills, SD - Zone 5a) on Jun 6, 2020 2:32 PM concerning plant:
    Snowy flat flower clusters on stems with milky sap in summer and early fall, ornamental seed pods packed with many seeds attached to silky hairs, which are carried by the wind.
    For best results (if planting more than one of these plants), space each one 1 and a half to 2 feet apart from each other.
    Landscape uses:
    Use swap, milkweed in a wildflower garden or an informal border or allow it to naturalize in a giddy meadow. Plant butterfly weed in a border or a wildflower garden, where its brilliant color is most effective in groups of three or more plants. It's flowers are excellent for for drying. The seedpods of both species are attractive when used in dried arrangements.
Plant Events from our members
SCButtercup On June 11, 2014 Bloomed
GoCart On July 8, 2017 Transplanted
vendor pot to ground
WebTucker On June 1, 2022 Bloomed
AtaMaj On November 4, 2022 Miscellaneous Event
plant emerged in early summer, but disappeared due to very dry conditions. See if shows up in summer 2023 after drip irrigation has been installed in late summer 2022.
AtaMaj On April 8, 2022 Obtained plant
planted 3 tubers in the south shelf orange section by the fence
MrsBinWY On July 12, 2022 Transplanted
5 in front, between Bali Cherry and Salvia dumetorum
MrsBinWY On May 29, 2022 Potted up
11+1 on 5-29-2022
MrsBinWY On May 20, 2022 Seeds germinated
On 5-20-2022, lots up (11 or so)
MrsBinWY On March 26, 2022 Seeds sown
On 3-26-2022, WS 16 seeds from SSE (membership renewal gift) in milk jug
MrsBinWY On January 31, 2021 Seeds sown
WS 16 seeds from Dave Peterson's 2020G in milk jug
antsinmypants On May 25, 2022 Plant emerged
Several seedlings emerged. WS 2022.
antsinmypants On February 21, 2022 Seeds sown
Winter sowed. Jug 7.
antsinmypants On April 18, 2021 Plant emerged
antsinmypants On February 25, 2021 Seeds sown
WS in jug 26.
srinehart On March 3, 2019 Seeds sown
Started indoors
variegatagal On May 2, 2018 Plant Ended (Removed, Died, Discarded, etc)
Removed. Replaced with daylily.
variegatagal On March 18, 2018 Maintenance performed
East flower bed. Mulched. No sign of growth.
variegatagal On May 22, 2017 Miscellaneous Event
Seems to be bouncing back after a rought start. Flowers have dropped.
variegatagal On May 13, 2017 Transplanted
In front of Sunshine Ligustrum and Salvia Bright Eyes
variegatagal On May 7, 2017 Obtained plant
Strong's Nursery
Catmint20906 On May 31, 2015 Bloomed
dave On March 16, 2017 Seeds sown
dave On January 29, 2017 Maintenance performed
Placed in moist paper towel in a ziplock bag and placed in the fridge.
flaflwrgrl On October 7, 2015 Obtained plant
From Santa Rosa Gardens - 3 plants.
FL native plant. Host for Monarch butterflies.
MissMew On October 3, 2022 Transplanted
Moved from Back West to Back East
MissMew On June 15, 2018 Obtained plant
Plugs from Suzanne
MissMew On August 17, 2015 Obtained plant
lovesblooms On July 23, 2015 Bloomed
lovesblooms On June 8, 2015 Bloomed
lovesblooms On April 1, 2015 Obtained plant
planted 2x
dragonfetti On March 20, 2015 Seeds sown
BD container
dragonfetti On March 19, 2015 Obtained plant
Ferry-Morse $1.58
Cat On August 16, 2014 Obtained plant
Flowerlover6 On October 19, 2022 Seeds sown
» Post your own event for this plant

Discussion Threads about this plant
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Very helpful picture! by BookerC1 Mar 19, 2012 10:47 AM 5
eww-gross! by dirtdorphins Aug 8, 2017 7:12 PM 6

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