Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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?

Share

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
7 ratings

Monday - June 18, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Butterfly Gardens, Propagation, Transplants, Drought Tolerant, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Propagation of Asclepias tuberosa
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Re: Asclepias tuberosa, "butterfly weed" bush -- I have a bed in a mix of Shoal Creek well-drained caliche, soil, and some enrichment of mulch that gets almost full sun and low water. After 4 yrs and 5 plants, I still can't get butterfly weed established there, although this bed well grows blackfoot daisy, pink skullcap, fall asters, and deep blue plumbago, most of it intermingled and all very happy. Still, I want to make butterflies happy: what do I need to do? Thanks!

ANSWER:

Although Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed) is drought resistant when established, it may initially require a bit more moisture than the other species you have growing if you are transplanting in a plant from the nursery.  The tuber is very sensitive to damage, so you must be especially careful to treat it tenderly and make certain that the deep planting hole has good loose soil that is well draining.  Be sure not to mulch it too high around the stem, since root and stem rot are common in Butterflyweed.  Even under the best of conditions, Butterflyweed is a slow starter, and it may take a year or so before it makes a good showing.  But it is well worth the wait.

Butterflyweed is fairly easily propagated from seed.  Check out this web site for tips on planting.

Aphids can be a problem as the plants grow.  They can best be removed with a strong blast from the hose.  A more serious potential problem is milkweed bugs.  I just try to pick them off by hand.  That will prevent harm to Monarch butterfly larvae, which  may also appear. You may just have to share your plants with them.  

 

 

More Butterfly Gardens Questions

Woolly butterfly bush only one native to Texas from Ft. Davis TX
August 19, 2010 - I see many kinds of Butterfly Bush at nurseries. Is the woolly butterfly bush the only Texas native?
view the full question and answer

Availability of Heliotropium angiospermum from Austin
April 01, 2014 - I have admired the Wildflower Center's Heliotropium angiospermum (Scorpian's Tail) for the great number of butterflies it attracts. I would really love to purchase one on these plants, but don't se...
view the full question and answer

Best milkweed to plant in Fayette County, TX
September 23, 2014 - What is the best milkweed to plant in central Texas [Fayette County] in black clay soil? this soil does not drain well.
view the full question and answer

Butterfly/hummingbird garden plants for Hill Country, TX
February 04, 2011 - What drought resistant plants would you recommend for a Hill Country butterfly/hummingbird garden that receives at least a half day of sun? It has afternoon exposure.
view the full question and answer

Soil improvement near Kerrville, TX
December 11, 2010 - We live in the Kerrville area; the soil is extremely shallow and deficient. The yard consists of mainly native plants, with a concentration of plants for butterflies and birds. What kind of soil and ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.