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How to Plant Butterfly Milkweed

butterfly image by Edsweb from

Butterfly milkweed (Asclepia tuberosa) is a sun loving perennial growing plant that is highly attractive to bees and a number of different butterfuly species. It can grow to about two to three feet in height and produces clusters of star-shaped, orange, red or yellow flowers that will bloom from late spring through early summer. Plant butterfly milkweed where it can have room to grow and make sure it's well drained.

Dig a planting hole for the butterfly milkweed that is about the same depth of the growing container but at least twice its diameter. Butterfly milkweed plants need full sun for best growth, so make sure the area you choose for planting is in a sun-filled location.

Mix into the soil you removed from the planting hole an equal amount of a soil amendment. You can use peat, aged compost, or rotted leaves.

Remove the butterfly milkweed from its growing container. To do this, lay the container vertically on the ground, or on a potting bench. Use a hammer, or a trowel and tap down along the rim of the container to slide the container off the root ball. Use care not to disturb the root system.

Add one to twp tablespoons of a time-release fertilizer into the bottom of the planting hole. You can use 12-12-12 or other similar fertilizer. Mix the fertilizer into the soil in planting hole thoroughly. Then cover up the fertilizer and soil mixture with about one to two inches of soil.

Plant the butterfly milkweed into the previously created planting hole. Ensure the butterfly milkweed is sitting level in the planting hole and the top of the root ball is sitting level to the surrounding garden soil. If it isn't sitting level, gently remove the butterfly milkweed from its planting hole, and either scoop in soil, or remove soil until you are sure the butterfly milkweed is sitting at a correct level.

Scoop in the organic amendment and garden soil mixture into the planting hole until it's full of soil. Pack the soil down around the butterfly milkweed. Then, use a starter solution that contains Vitamin B1 and water the butterfly milkweed thoroughly. You can use a 4-10-3 solution, or similar and make sure you read the instructions on how much solution to use per gallon of water.


According to, butterfly milkweed is hardy in the USDA Zones 4 to 10.

Once butterfly milkweed becomes well established, it is very drought resistant.


Butterfly milkweed is considered toxic, use care when planting around small children or pets.

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