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 Planting Questions

Soil for native Chilopsis linearis and Salvia greggii
February 08, 2010 - I want to plant a desert willow and a salvia greggii in my small lot. The developer used sandy loam to fill in the small garden in the front. I am 73 and a bit impaired. Do I really need to remove ...
view the full question and answer

Lilac bush roots dangerous to house foundations
August 06, 2008 - Are lilac bushes dangerous to the foundation of a house? There is a lovely white-blooming lilac that grows against the house outside my bedroom window. My ex-husband said that the roots would destro...
view the full question and answer

Selecting a tree for a backyard in San Antonio, TX
May 11, 2013 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants, I recently moved into a home in West San Antonio right outside Loop 1604..my treeless backyard is fairly small at about 55 ft long and 15 ft wide. I am torn because I can't ...
view the full question and answer

Patience for slow-growing Baptisia
July 07, 2004 - I have three different varieties of well established Baptisia that I have had for several years ... none of them bloom. One of my plants got a very small flower in April, but just pooped out after th...
view the full question and answer

Fastest growing shade tree for Austin.
April 27, 2015 - What is the fastest growing shade tree suitable for Austin? We are anticipating selling or renting our house in two to three years and want a shade tree for a baked full sun area of the yard that will...
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