butterfly weed

Asclepias tuberosa

Other Common Names

butterfly milkweed

Plant Type

Herbaceous Wildflower

Life Cycle


Typical Size

1-2 ft. tall
1 ft. wide

Tolerant of

Drought, Salt Exposure


By seed

Plant Propagation Notes

The plant grows easily from seed, but expect that it will take two to three years to establish and produce flowers. Mature plants may freely self-seed in the landscape if seed pods are not removed prior to splitting open. Butterfly weed does not transplant well due to its deep taproot and is probably best left undisturbed once established.

Plant Planting Notes

12″ spacing



Mostly pest free. Aphids may cluster at the top of the plant. To remedy this problem, knock them off with a strong spray of water every two or three days for a week. Crown rot can occur in wet, poorly drained soils. It is also susceptible to rust and leaf spot.

Wildlife Benefits

Nectar/pollen source for pollinating insects, Host plant for butterfly larvae, Nectar source for hummingbirds


Leaves alternate or whorled, lanceolate to oblong with entire margins. Approximately 3-6 inches long by less than 1 inch wide.


Flowers range from gold/yellow to orange to red/burgundy. Arranged in a cyme with 4-5 petals each, smaller than one inch. Crown shaped with nectar tube.


Seeds are borne in gray/green capsules that mature and split open allowing the flat, brown seeds to disperse on the wind by silky tufts of trichomes.


Stems green and pubescent.


Low poison severity. Ingestion may cause vomiting, stupor, weakness, spasms.

Asclepias tuberosa

USDA Hardiness Zones

3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Light Exposure

Full Sun

Soil Moisture

Medium, Moist

Soil Drainage


Native in South Carolina?


Plant Native Habitat

Found in dry, rocky open woods, glades, prairies, fields, and roadsides.

Global Conservation Status (NatureServe)

Secure (G5)

Federal Conservation Status (USFWS)

Not Listed

Distribution Notes

Common throughout South Carolina


Asclepias tuberosa subsp. interior
Asclepias tuberosa subsp. rolfsii
Asclepias tuberosa subsp. tuberosa