fall garden tasks

Asclepias tuberosa – Butterfly Weed


Butterfly on MilkweedSome of you may have noticed the wildlife gardens, native plantings, prairies and ditches around town are full of beautifully blooming and sweet smelling milkweed, swamp milkweed and butterfly weed right now.  The butterfly weed is hard to miss as there are few such long blooming and long lived perennials that show off such bright, head turning orange flowers.  They actually bloom in shades ranging from golden yellow to orange but it always seems to be the orange ones that catch my eye!

Butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa, is a low maintenance native perennial species.  It is a great choice for wildlife gardens, rain gardens, and eclectic perennial borders.  Deadheading will keep them blooming all through the summer but as we near summers’ end please stop deadheading so that you can enjoy the beautiful seed pods that rise up above the foliage.  When the pods mature they will pop open exposing the seeds with their silvery-white, silky hairs; reminding me of its cousin, common milkweed.

Here’s the dirt on Asclepias tuberosa, Butterfly weed:  This one is a sun lover!  Clumps will grow to 24” tall and wide.  They are deer resistant yet attractive to many winged forms of wildlife.  You can grow them in just about any type of soil provided it isn’t soggy for long periods of time.  Consider planting them along with Threadleaf Coreopsis, Veronica, Yarrow and/or Monarda.