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
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


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!


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 Herbs/Forbs Questions

Will maroon and Texas Bluebonnets prosper in Richland MO?
July 02, 2013 - I live in Richland, MO and have obtained both Maroon and Texas Bluebonnet seeds from Fredricksburg, TX. Will they prosper in this area and when is the best time to plant? I have read how and what type...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping for a wedding in Memphis MO
October 13, 2009 - I am pretty new at this landscaping flower thing, but I love it. We just moved out to the country in NE Missouri from Colorado (Huge difference, but love it). We have decided to have our wedding at o...
view the full question and answer

Defenses against imported red leaf beetles on lilies
August 06, 2007 - I've recently discovered small red beetles of some kind on my lilies, which they are happily devouring. I've been picking them off with my fingers and squashing them, but I'd like a better alterna...
view the full question and answer

Hillside Erosion Control for Gainesville GA
August 07, 2013 - I have a steep bare hill and the runoff from it is heavy this year. I need help with a fast growing groundcover that will help control erosion and runoff. Planting on the hill is difficult because you...
view the full question and answer

Texas native plants for cemetery site
February 09, 2005 - I am trying to landscape my mothers gravesite located in far East Texas (just outside of Nacogdoches) and I am looking for some evergreen bushes or any other decorative plants for that area. I am thi...
view the full question and answer

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