Asclepias tuberosa , commonly known as butterfly weed, is known across the United States as one of the best plants to attract, you guessed it, butterflies! Also known for its beautiful flowers, butterfly weed is in the milkweed family. Milkweed, named for its milky sap, has long been planted in gardens throughout the US to bring beneficial pollinators through your landscape. Butterfly weed, unlike its other milkweed cousins, is not as caustic. Although butterfly weed is slightly toxic, if ingested, to humans and other mammals, its sap will not irrigation the skin like other milkweeds.


Butterfly weed comes in orange and yellow flowers


Landscape Planting – Asclepias tuberosa Basics 


Botanical Name: Asclepias tuberosa

Common Name: Butterfly weed

Type: Herbaceous perennial shrub

Native Range: United States – Eastern and Southeastern regions

Size: 1 to 2 feet tall, 12 to 18 inches wide

Bloom Time: Spring

Bloom Color: Yellow, orange

Sun: Full sun

Water & Soil: Once established, minimal water needs. If can grow well in a variety of soil types, including rocky and sandy soil

Maintenance: Minimal maintenance needs. It can be cut down to ground level before winter

Suggested Use: Group planting, pollinator garden (butterflies and other beneficial pollinators)



The clustered structure of butterfly weed blooms


For landscape planting, butterfly weed grows best in full sun. Our landscape designers at Creative Concepts Landscape will be happy to look over your property and determine areas that are optimal for these types of plants.


Our designers can take a look at your property and see if butterfly weed’s needs can be met. We create a design plan for all of our consultations to determine what plants and needs match each individual property. Butterfly weed makes an excellent addition to colorful gardens, with their eye-catching bright flowers. Their clustered leaves and brilliant color make them a unique favorite in the landscape. Creative Concepts Landscape will help to determine the best location on your property, or create the conditions to promote a healthy, beautiful garden that attracts gorgeous butterflies.


Butterfly weed has low water requirements once established. After they are established (at around one year after planting), they will need periodic watering, usually once a month. During the hottest times of summer, they may need more frequent watering. During the rainy season, the irrigation can be turned off completely.


Butterfly weed prefers well-draining soils, which much of the soil in Southern California has. They don’t need nutrient fertilizers. In fact, adding fertilizer can actually harm the plant, or cause excessively leggy growth. Creative Concepts Landscape will determine what conditions would be best for yarrow in your landscape and make the necessary additions or changes.



A Monarch butterfly feeding on Butterfly weed


Pruning & Maintenance 


Butterfly weed has low maintenance needs. In late fall you will notice the leaves begin to brown and the stalks yellow. This is a sign that the plant is entering winter dormancy. At this point you can cut the plant down to ground level. Make sure to do this with a clean pair of pruning shears. The plant will grow back in spring. This process helps to regenerate healthy new growth. These plants are drought tolerant, however providing supplemental water for these plants, especially while they are becoming established in the landscape, is often the highest maintenance requirement. Creative Concepts Landscape has been installing irrigation systems for over twenty years. We will be happy to schedule a consultation and come up with an irrigation system plan and install it. Creative Concepts landscape also repairs and refurbishes existing irrigation systems, so they are in optimal, efficient condition.


Creative Concepts Landscape has options for maintenance schedules. Many of our clients have us maintain their property weekly or two times a month, however we also offer periodic cleanups. These cleanups range from four times a year, twice a year, and sometimes once a year. We will be happy to talk with you and determine a maintenance/cleanup schedule that fits your property needs.


Butterfly weed sprouts. Often butterfly weed is grown from seed.


Landscape Uses 


Butterfly weed is beautiful, making a lovely addition to a colorful garden, however the true magic is in its attraction for butterflies and other healthy garden pollinators. Not only will you be providing food for butterflies, and enjoying their presence in the garden, but these insects will pollinate many blooms in your garden. It’s a great thing all around.


Butterfly weed can fit within many different landscape aesthetics, from Mediterranean gardens, chaparral gardens, butterfly gardens (of course), and even desert themed gardens. Creative Concepts Landscape will be happy to discuss their potential in your garden. Creative Concepts Landscape gets many requests for garden installations, of which yarrow can be a beautiful addition. Our team of designers and technicians has decades of experience designing and installing gardens.


Creative Concepts Landscape creates a landscape plan and design for your specific property characteristics along with your wants. Our highly experienced designers will be able to see what plant types and layout will complement your landscape’s existing features to come up with a planting design plan.


Butterfly weed makes an excellent, and eye catching, addition to the water wise garden, pollinator garden



Thank you for joining us again in this week’s horticultural adventures. Please come back next Wednesday for out next blog post, and as always, contact us for all your landscape needs!


By Daniel Williams

Client Liaison for Creative Concepts Landscape