Butterflies can't resist the brilliantly colored blooms of the Orange Bug Butterfly Weed, in bright yellows, blazing reds and fiery oranges. Not only does it attract butterflies, but it serves as a host plant for monarch and queen butterflies to lay their eggs, and provides food for the hatching caterpillars. It is also valued for its usefulness in cut flower arrangements, with cut blooms that will last a week or more.
The small, clustered blooms of the Orange Bug Butterfly Weed form colorful 2 to 3 foot clumps on upright stems, towering above dark green foliage that is narrow and supple, which lends a shrubby appearance to the plant. They bloom in late spring and early summer.
Orange Bug Butterfly Weed will grow in poor soils, with little water, and is found growing wild along roadsides in hot, arid climates. However, it will also thrive in the moist rich compost of the flower bed, with good drainage. They like full sun and are heat tolerant, making them well suited in zones 4 through 9.
Butterfly Weed can be propagated through seeds. They do not transplant from the wild well, due to their long tap root. Seeds form in pods, and when they begin to split apart, the seeds are easily stripped from the cottony fibers and are ready to plant immediately. Dried seeds do not germinate well, so plant as soon as seeds are harvested. Butterfly Weed is a bi-annual, so they will bloom during the second season after planting.
Caterpillars will be found eating the leaves of Butterfly Weed. They are host to Monarch and Queen Butterflies, so this foliage feasting is normal and will not damage the plant. They lay their eggs on the leaves which provide the newly hatched caterpillars with nourishment to begin a new life cycle.
As Cut Flowers
To include Orange Bug Butterfly Weed in cut flower arrangements, cut blooms when it is cool, during early mornings or evenings. Place stems in water that almost reaches the blooms. In addition to providing color in bouquets, cutting flowers encourages blooming, resulting in plants with more flowers. Cut blooms may last a week or more.