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Ascepias tuberosa

Photo by Walters Gardens, Inc

Asclepias tuberosa, common name butterfly weed, has bright orange flowers that grow in clusters at the end of the branch tips and has green foliage with hairy stems. This beautiful bee-friendly perennial blooms early to late summer and makes for great long-lasting cut flowers.  Plant seeds in spring.  Asclepias tuberosa may be slow to emerge; but, once plant is established it does not like to be transplanted because it has a long taproot. This plant is low maintenance, prefers full sun and  moderate moisture. It’s milky white sap may irritate skin.

What makes this plant interesting is it’s relationship with the Monarch Butterfly. Monarch butterflies feed from the nectar produced in the flowers; and, the larvae feed on the foliage.  Milk weed plants (Asclepias) are hosts to many different species of butterflies as well as humming birds.  After becoming the PPA’s Perennial Plant of 2017, the increased awareness of this relationship spread amongst gardeners, creating an increase in plantings and a 47% increase in the endangered Monarch butterfly population. What a beautiful plant with a beautiful purpose. 

 

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