To avoid deer and rabbit damage for any flower, my recommendation is to use Liquid fence. Liquid Fence is the only product that reliably protects from deer and rabbits, in my experience.
Monarch Butterflies will lay their eggs on Butterfly Weed . But additional species such as the Gray Hairstreak and Queen Butterfly , .
The blooms of Butterfly Weed consist of clusters (umbels) of 10-30 individual orange flowers, with the overall cluster size being 1-3″ diameter. They are milkweed-style flowers, having 5 petals, sepals, and hoods w/ horns.
Butterfly Weed is easy to grow from seed. You can direct sow the seed on disturbed soil in the Fall. Just gently sprinkle and then walk on the seed. Then you just need to wait until Spring!
Butterfly Weed should not require any special care if you plant it in full sun and well-drained soil. No fertilizer or special soil amendments should be necessary.
Butterfly Weed and Deer / Rabbits.
RELATED =>> Learn how to test if you have well drained soil here.
Ok – so I must give you my personal experience with Butterfly Weed, which is extensive. But in 8 years of growing Butterfly Weed, I have found that Butterfly Weed is deer resistant . In fact I’ve never seen damage from deer.
Butterfly Weed going to seed , with pods starting to open in September 2020, Pennsylvania.
The sunlight requirements for Butterfly Weed are Full Sun or Partial Sun . Full sun is considered at least six hours per day of direct sunlight. While partial sun is 4-6 hours per day of direct sunlight.
Asclepias Tuberosa shortly after germination.
This picture was of some of my plants in early September 2019. I consider the yellowing shown here normal coloration for butterfly weed leaves later in the season.
The Lifecycle of Butterfly Weed is a perennial . It will emerge in late Spring, later than most other plants. Rapidly it will grow to a height of 1-2′ and bloom by early Summer for about one month. By late Summer to early Fall, seed pods will form. The pods will ripen, open, disperse their seed and die back to ground.
Butterfly Weed is easy to grow and establish in full sun and well drained soil. It may take a year to get fully established, but after that is will look great for decades.
 – Lemoine NP (2015) Climate Change May Alter Breeding Ground Distributions of Eastern Migratory Monarchs (Danaus plexippus) via Range Expansion of Asclepias Host Plants. PLoS ONE 10(2): e0118614. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0118614.
If you plant Butterfly Weed in it’s natural preferred growing conditions, it will not require supplemental care. It does not require fertilizing, as it grows wonderfully in poor soils.
Wildlife, Pests, and Diseases.
5 – Keep the soil moist . Water only in the morning (if possible).
Bumble bee feeding on Butterfly Milkweed, Asclepias tuberosa.
You can expect Butterfly Weed to bloom it’s second year after growing from seed. And by the 3rd or 4th year, Butterfly Weed should grow to it’s full size.
Additionally native Plants have evolved to be disease resistant. They have built up natural defenses to common pests and diseases that non-native plants just don’t have. This means less care and fewer problems.
Some companion plants for Butterfly Weed include the following:
Not long after this occurs, the leaves will turn yellow, eventually turning completely brown. The plant is now entering dormancy.
In Fall and Winter, Butterfly Weed can be cut back to the ground. Once the leaves and stalk appear dead or dry, simple take pruning shears and cut the plant to ground. It will reemerge in Spring.
Butterfly Weed Flower.
 – Haddad, N.M. and Tewksbury, J.J. (2005), LOW‐QUALITY HABITAT CORRIDORS AS MOVEMENT CONDUITS FOR TWO BUTTERFLY SPECIES. Ecological Applications, 15: 250-257. https://doi.org/10.1890/03-5327.
Butterfly Weed prefers rocky or sandy soil that drains well. It can grow in compacted soil and even clay, but will grow more slowly.
These small orange aphids (also known as Milkweed aphids) will suck sap and nutrients from the stalks. These orange or yellow bugs on your Butterfly Weed will not harm the plant. They are just very ugly.
Like many native perennials, Butterfly Weed will have a better germination rate if they are cold stratified. This is where you ‘trick’ the seed into thinking it went through a winter. It is easiest to cold stratify Butterfly Weed seeds using a moist paper towel and zip-lock bag in the refrigerator.
We have ordered a variety of native flower seeds from Everwilde Farms, which you can order right from Amazon through our link on our RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS PAGE. (We may earn a small commission when you purchase through our links, at no cost to you. This helps support our website.)
Butterfly Weed aphids will generally be clustered on the stalk in dense groupings. These small yellow bugs or orange bugs will look like tiny bumps.
Before going further, let me show you how I’ve organized this article. I’ve broken it into 5 linked sections:
The Butterfly Weed shown here is 3 years old.
Another notable plant from the same family is the tropical milkweed (Asclepias Curassavica).
There’s no need to wait for plants to establish themselves before reaping the benefits.
While it is a very hardy plant that reseeds itself easily, it is not intrusive or invasive.
Is Butterfly Weed Hard to Grow?
It’s important to note that when you start your seeds indoors, you will need to transition gradually to their permanent outdoor setting.
Also increase the amount of sunlight to which you expose them. Once plants hardened a bit and can tolerate outdoor conditions well, transplant them to their permanent setting where can enjoy the full sun.
Don’t worry the cold of winter will not harm your seeds.
Because butterfly weed likes poor soil, you needn’t worry much about feeding it.
This non-native plant from North America makes the best host plant for monarch eggs.
If not, transplant them to their permanent location before they get any taller than four inches. Remember they do not like their root systems disturbed.
How To Grow Butterfly Weed Seed Indoors.
Is butterfly weed invasive?
If you don’t set a marker, you may accidentally replace them with something else before they reveal themselves in the spring.
You can start butterfly weed seeds indoors. To do this, you’ll need a garden flat filled with a good quality of well-moistened germination medium.
In the wild, you find it on the prairie, growing in depleted pasture soil, along roadsides and on the verge of very dry forests. When you come across butterfly weed in the wild, you should leave it alone.
Growing Butterfly Weed From Seed Outdoors.
Even though the Asclepias plant does reproduce fairly readily, it is never a good idea to disrupt it.
When the seedlings have grown to one or two inches high, transplant into larger pots and continue caring for them with fluorescent lighting indoors until all danger of frost has passed.
Because so many gardeners now recognize how beneficial butterfly weed is to the garden, seeds are very readily available online and in local garden stores.
Remember butterfly weed grows best in well-drained soil that is not too rich and exposed to full sun.
In the autumn, give it a light dressing of compost followed by a layer of mulch.
Butterfly weed plants are milkweed cousins with tall, clumping perennials that reach heights of 12 to 36 inches (31-91 cm.). The blooms appear atop fuzzy, green stems, which are adorned by attractive, lance-shaped leaves. Butterfly weed plants spread by way of seeds, which are released from large pods in early autumn.
Growing butterfly weed requires very little effort. The plant, suitable for growing in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 through 9, thrives in bright sunlight and poor, dry, sandy, or gravelly soil with a slightly acidic or neutral pH.
Butterfly weed grows wild in a variety of environments, including open woods, prairies, dry fields, meadows, and along roadsides. In the garden, butterfly weed looks great in wildflower meadows, borders, rock gardens, or mass plantings.
Butterfly Weed Characteristics.
No fertilizer is required and may even harm the plant.
Keep the soil moist until the plant is established and showing new growth. Thereafter, water only occasionally, as butterfly weed plants prefer dry soil. Trim old growth every spring to keep them neat and healthy.
What is a butterfly weed? Butterfly weed plants ( Asclepias tuberosa ) are trouble-free North American natives that produce umbels of bright orange, yellow, or red blooms all summer long. Butterfly weed is appropriately named, as the nectar and pollen rich flowers attract hummingbirds and hordes of butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects throughout the blooming season. Do you want to know more about how to grow butterfly weed? Read on.
Butterfly weed plants are easy to grow by seed, but may not produce blooms for two or three years. Once established, butterfly weed is drought tolerant and blooms dependably from year to year. Also, keep in mind that butterfly weed has long, sturdy roots that make transplantation very difficult, so locate the plant in its permanent place in the garden.
Mealybugs and aphids may cause problems during the blooming season, but both are easily controlled by regular applications of insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.