En Español

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

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


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 Butterfly Gardens Questions

Texas natives that attract butterflies but not deer
December 13, 2012 - I'd like to have some plants in my garden that are butterfly attractors, but that whitetail deer won't like. I can find lists of butterfly plants, and lists of deer-resistant plants -- is there a li...
view the full question and answer

Sun loving plants for flower bed by the pool in Weatherford Texas
October 03, 2011 - We have a 40' long x 2 1/2' wide flowerbed along our pool. It is in full sun with the pool deck across the front and a 6' privacy fence across back. Also, the level of the bed is 18" below the l...
view the full question and answer

Butterfly egg kit from Spring Hill FL
October 27, 2011 - Could you please tell me all native plant(s) I can buy for my Sons Painted Lady Butterfly kit (eggs are going to hatch soon)and I don't know what to buy for the baby caterpillars to eat. I contacted ...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for East Texas school gardens
May 19, 2008 - I am a teacher in San Augustine, Texas (which is in the Eastern Pineywoods region). I have started an outdoor classroom/schoolyard habitat at our school. We are in the process of planning our plant ...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover and Butterfly attractants for LaRue Texas
May 02, 2012 - LaRue, TX - Would like a native low growing plant as a groundcover. I would like it for six+ hours of sun, drought tolerant, and ones that butterflies might enjoy, while deer won't. Some winter int...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center