Explore Plants

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
    
 

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 Herbs/Forbs Questions

Nativity of Salvia coccinea (scarlet sage)
September 14, 2011 - Is Salvia coccinea native to Florida? In wikipedia they say it is native to Mexico.
view the full question and answer

Plants with color for steep slope in Calera, Alabama
March 26, 2010 - I have a large steep slope in my back yard that the developer called a privacy break. It has poor soil and gets full sun. I have planted muhly and maiden grasses but would like some color. The slope ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for full-sun landscape
November 20, 2007 - I live in a very rocky area just outside of Fort Worth, TX. It's taken me all spring, summer & now I'm going into the fall, to landscape just 30 feet in front of my house. The front of the house get...
view the full question and answer

Looking for a source for milkweed plants in Goshen, KY.
July 12, 2012 - I live in Louisville(actually Jeffersontown), KY and would love to find some milkweed plants for the butterflies. I have not had any luck with seeds so I am looking for actual plants. Do you have an...
view the full question and answer

Plants to stabilize sandy slope in Massachusetts
September 23, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smartypants, I am working on a small public housing project in Chelmsford, MA, northwest of Boston. We have a steep, sunny and SANDY slope and I am stumped as to what to recommend that wi...
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.