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?

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
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
1 rating

Monday - July 30, 2012

From: bee caves, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Butterfly Gardens, Planting, Propagation, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Growing butterfly weed as a girl scout project
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

We have a group of girl scouts who want to sell 'crafts' at a farmers market. I am wanting to steer the moms and girls in a different direction. I was wondering if you think that butterfly weed would be a good plant for them to start from seed? is it easy to grow and start in small containers? i know that it takes several years to flower, but how long before we have a small plant to sell? I do have a small greenhouse to use for this. I was wanting to go beyond crafts and to help the girls learn and teach others about the environment and the future wildlife these flowers will attract. if not this flower do you have a sugestion? i know that this is one of the flowers that bee caves/lakeway housing expansion will effect.

ANSWER:

I think Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed) is a good choice for your project.  The main drawback is the relatively slow rate of growth, but you should have a saleable seedling if you grow from seeds or cuttings over the winter in a warm greenhouse.

To propagate from seed, collect the seeds just as the ripe pods are opening.  Before planting, give the seeds a cold treatment in the fridge as described in this web site.  This involves cold treatment for 3-6 weeks.  In the meantime, as your girl scouts begin to get impatient, try buying a mature Butterfly weed from the nursery and practice making stem cuttings (see the same web site) or try taking cuttings from the long tap root.  Root cuttings are fairly widely used in butterfly weed propagation.  These should be taken from mature or dormant plants in the fall to give the cuttings time to grow in the greenhouse during the winter.

If your timing is right there should be something for the girls to see pretty soon after you get started.  Be very careful if you transplant the seedlings; the butterfly weed root system does not like to be disturbed.

 

From the Image Gallery


Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

More Butterfly Gardens Questions

Will Canada geese eat Asclepias tuberosa from Cape May Court, NJ
May 20, 2014 - Will Canada geese eat my butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)? I know this plant is deer resistant. I really want to plant some on sandy bank near pond in my back yard, but I fear the geese will ...
view the full question and answer

Growing Green milkweed vine from seed
July 29, 2015 - I was given some seed for the pearl milkweed vine which I intend to plant, but I can find no information on whether to stratify or scarify them or just plant them. I know some milkweeds require strati...
view the full question and answer

Growth rate of non-native Asclepias curassavica
April 29, 2014 - As a volunteer at the National Butterfly center, I wonder how long from starting the seeds until the plant reaches approximately 20 cm tall does it take a tropical milkweed (asclepias curassavica) to ...
view the full question and answer

What would replace non-native orange tree leaves in butterfly hatchery?
July 17, 2009 - I have a very small orange tree that currently has dozens of caterpillars on it that look like bird droppings. I think I have narrowed them down to a swallowtail butterfly. I would love to let them ma...
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

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center