Butterfly Weed Culture


The butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is named for the fact that the flowers produce a large amount of nectar, which attracts butterflies and other insects. This hardy perennial is native to North America, according to Texas A&M University, and features large clusters of bright orange flowers. The plant is commonly found growing in the wild but is also cultivated in home gardens.


The butterfly weed is a temperate-climate plant. It enjoys mild winters followed by warm summers. This plant thrives in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) growing zones 4 though 9, according to Michigan State University.

Planting Site

These plants can be used in many different locations, including rock gardens, borders, and group plantings. They can be grown from seed but may be slow to establish. Butterfly weeds also develop long taproots. Once established, they are very hardy, but difficult to transplant, so choose your location wisely.


Butterfly weeds can adapt to a wide range of soil types conditions--including very dry soils--as long as they are light and not heavy and waterlogged, according to the University of Florida. They will not tolerate salty soils, but will grow in polluted or poor soil. For this reason, they are often used as landscape plants in urban settings.

Water and Light

Butterfly weeds need exposure to full sunlight in order to grow and bloom well, according to the University of Florida. Established plants do not need supplemental watering, although the soil around newly planted shrubs should be kept moist until the end of the first growing season.


Butterfly weeds are sometimes infested by aphids, but they do not pose a threat to the life of the plant and can be exterminated with insecticides. Fungal diseases such as leaf spot and rust can be a problem. Avoid wetting the foliage of the plant when watering, and make sure it is exposed to morning sunlight, which will dry any dew left on the leaves.

Keywords: growing butterfly weeds, butterfly weed culture, Asclepias tuberosa care

About this Author

April Sanders has been a professional writer since 1998. She has worked as an educator and now writes academic research content for EBSCO Publishing and elementary reading curriculum for Compass Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in social psychology from the University of Washington and a master's degree in information sciences and technology in education from Mansfield University.