Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed)

Scientific Name

Asclepias tuberosa L.

Common Names

Butterfly Weed, Pleurisy Root


Asclepias tuberosa var. tuberosa, Acerates decumbens, Asclepias elliptica, Asclepias lutea, Asclepias revoluta

Scientific Classification

Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Asclepiadoideae
Tribe: Asclepiadeae
Subtribe: Asclepiadinae
Genus: Asclepias


Color: Orange or yellow
Bloom Time: Early summer to early fall


Asclepias tuberosa is a perennial plant with clustered orange or yellow flowers from early summer to early fall. It grows up to 3.3 feet (1 m) tall. Leaves are spirally arranged, lanceolate, up to 5 inches (12.5 cm) long, and up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) wide.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed)
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USDA hardiness zone 4a to 10b: from −30 °F (−34.4 °C) to 40 °F (+4.4 °C).

How to Grow and Care

You can easily grow Milkweeds to attract the Monarch and other flying creatures to your garden. Plant seeds of the Milkweed Plant indoors or direct sow outside after danger of frost has passed, and soil has warmed. If the appearance of the plant is too weedy for your taste, grow Milkweeds in a hidden but sunny corner or at the back of a border.

Milkweed often does not begin growing in northern gardens in time to be fully beneficial to butterflies. There you can start seeds of Milkweed inside so they will be ready to plant when the soil has warmed.

Milkweed plants benefit from vernalization, a process of cold treatment, before sprouting. They get this when planted outside, but to speed up the growing process, treat the seeds through stratification. Place seeds into a container of moist soil, cover with a plastic bag, and refrigerate for at least three weeks. If desired, plant into containers and place under a grow light inside about six weeks before soil temperatures outside have warmed. Keep the soil moist by misting, but seeds can rot if allowed to sit in soggy soil. See more at How to Grow and Care for Milkweed Plants.


It is native to eastern North America.


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