Butterfly Weed Growing Guide
Crop Rotation Group
Fertile, well-drained soil.
Full sun to partial afternoon shade.
Butterfly weed is a hardy perennial, tolerating winter cold to -30°F (-34°C).
In spring just as new growth emerges, topdress the area around butterfly weed with a balanced organic fertilizer.
Single Plants: 1' 11" (60cm) each way (minimum)
Rows: 1' 11" (60cm) with 1' 11" (60cm) row gap (minimum)
Sow and Plant
Start butterfly weed seeds indoors in spring, and expect germination in 10 days. Or, sow seeds outdoors where you want the plants to grow in early spring, so they can be exposed to some cold weather, which improves germination. Butterfly weed seedlings are best set out when young, because as their taproot develops, they become harder to transplant. Choose small plants when shopping for butterfly weed plants in spring. Young plants need water their first year, but after that butterfly weed is quite drought tolerant.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalized calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.
Most butterfly weed blooms orange, but there are yellow varieties with similar appeal. Butterflies love visiting the flat-topped blossom clusters, and monarchs and other butterflies use the plants to host their larvae. Butterfly weed is a native American plant. It is an outstanding choice for wildflower meadows. Once established, butterfly weed becomes a stable clump that self-seeds in nearby areas without becoming invasive.
Gather stems for use in cut arrangements as you need them. Set cut blossoms outdoors for a short time to allow small insects to escape. The elongated seed pods make interesting material for dried arrangements.
Aphids can appear in large numbers, and they are only moderately discouraged by a spray of water. Pinch off badly infested branches and compost them.
Planting and Harvesting Calendar
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Pests which Affect Butterfly Weed