Butterfly weed, or milkweed, is a native American wildflower that is at home in both the wild garden and the perennial border, as a flower that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. Blooming from late spring into summer, these perennials with sprays of small yellow, orange, or red-orange flowers are striking in their beauty. The plants bear thin leaves and are most attractive when in flower.
How to grow: Butterfly weed grows easily in full sun and tolerates a wide variety of soil types but performs best in average garden soil with good drainage. Once a butterfly weed develops a good root system, it becomes a long-lived, drought-resistant plant.
Propagation: By division in early spring or by seed.
Uses: Butterfly weed does well in meadows and in wild gardens. The flowers can be cut for fresh bouquets.
Related species: The swamp milkweed, Asclepias incarnata, has pinkish flowers on two- to four-foot stems and will do well in wet environments.
Scientific name: Asclepias tuberosa