En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - July 29, 2005

From: Santa FE, NM
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Deadheading or trimming back of Asclepias spp
Answered by: Joe Marcus


I have some butterfly weeds (flowers) and I have heard conflicting stories as to how to cut them back. Should they be deadheaded to elongate bloom time or does that prevent any seeds from replanting? Should they only be cut back in the fall every other year? 1/3 of the way back?? Thanks!


You may deadhead your butterfly weeds (Asclepias spp.) if you wish your plants to produce more flowers.

Butterfly weeds make nice cut flowers. Sear the cut end of the flower stem with a flame or dip in hot water to stop the milky sap from running. Let the second or third flush of flowers produce seed pods if you would like them to.

You should cut your butterfly weeds back by 1/3 to 1/2 in early spring before new growth begins if desired to tidy up the plant and encourage new growth. Alternatively, you may wish to wait until after the spring Monarch butterfly migration has passed and prune then.

More Wildflowers Questions

When to mow after bluebonnets bloom in Brenham, TX
May 04, 2009 - I live in Brenham, TX, and thanks to spreading 80 pounds of bluebonnet seeds last fall, we had a very small but promising showing of bluebonnets this March and April. The bluebonnets still appear to b...
view the full question and answer

Interested in planting wildflowers in the area of Paige, TX.
November 02, 2010 - Interested in planting wildflowers in the area of Paige, TX.
view the full question and answer

Evergreen groundcovers for NE NC
April 20, 2015 - Can you please provide a list of evergreen native groundcovers for Northeastern NC?
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers for a slope in PA
April 16, 2011 - I've got a steep southeast-facing slope near the house that is mostly overrun with day lilies. It gets plenty of morning sun. I've had some luck with goldenrod and New England aster along the steps ...
view the full question and answer

Low Groundcover for Washington State
February 03, 2015 - I'm trying to find a perfect fit for my piece of land in the State of Washington. I would say that the area is partly sunny and a somewhat moist area. I'm looking for a species of very small everg...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center