Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - October 20, 2014

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Butterfly Gardens, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Milkweed recommendations for Austin, TX
Answered by: Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I live on thin limestone soil in Austin's NW Hills. I'd like to plant some milkweed to help the monarch butterflies in their migration. Which species should I plant, and are those available in our local nurseries or at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center? Or must I start with seeds - I'm not very successful planting seeds. Also, do the plants require full sun, or will part shade do? Most of my yard is pretty shady.

ANSWER:

Awww - - You just missed it!  The Wildflower Center just held its Fall Wildflower Sale last weekend – and they had two native varieties of Milkweed for Sale:   Asclepias texana (Texas milkweed) and Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

[They were quite popular for the same reason that you want them, but you may want to give the Wildflower Center a call and see if they are available]  Similarly, as many folks are interested in supporting the Monarchs, it is likely that your local native plant supplier would also have them in stock!

As natives recommended for this area – You can be comfortable that these varieties are well suited to our lovely thin limestone soil and seriously hot summers [not that they like it any more than we do!]

The growing conditions for Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed) gave:

GROWING CONDITIONS

Water Use: Low 
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade 
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist 
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium 
Drought Tolerance: High 
Soil Description: Prefers well-drained sandy soils. Tolerates drought. 

With that, it looks like the sunnier areas of your yard would be the most successful, Asclepias texana (Texas milkweed) indicated it needed full sun.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas milkweed
Asclepias texana

Texas milkweed
Asclepias texana

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

More Butterfly Gardens Questions

Best milkweed to plant in Fayette County, TX
September 23, 2014 - What is the best milkweed to plant in central Texas [Fayette County] in black clay soil? this soil does not drain well.
view the full question and answer

How toxic are milkweed (Asclepias spp.)?
November 01, 2011 - We are considering a monarch waystation for our local elementary and are concerned about milkweed toxicity. Would it be safe to plant it in reach of children?
view the full question and answer

Butterfly plants from Austin TX
December 17, 2012 - I have a butterfly garden in the front part of the house facing the south side. However it is also mostly under a few Oak trees that cast shadow over half of the front yard starting early afternoon. ...
view the full question and answer

Food for butterflies in Austin
April 21, 2013 - Mr. Smarty Plants, my kids and I are raising Painted Lady butterflies from caterpillars but it's still too cold to release them (oddly cool spring we're having!) If they mate and lay eggs, what loc...
view the full question and answer

Questions about milkweed seeds
March 28, 2013 - Dear folks, I am trying to locate Nan Hampton from Los Fresnos, Texas who asked about Asclepias texana seeds and other Asclepias seeds on Dec. 10, 2008. I would like to know if she found any and has...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.