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
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

QUESTION:

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!

ANSWER:

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 Drought Tolerant Questions

Deer Resistant, Fast Growing Groundcover Suggestions for Georgia
April 20, 2013 - Our driveway is 1/4 mile in length and is steep on both sides (one side up one side down). It currently has grass that our contractor planted using seed when we built our house. We are unable to cut t...
view the full question and answer

California plants poisonous to dogs from Sacramento
July 01, 2012 - Found dodonea viscosa purple. Is it poisonous to dogs? Also Gold Star Potentilla. Going drought tolerant and need small trees, shrubs and plants not poisonous to dogs for sun and partial sun.
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Blackfoot daisy seed
July 21, 2015 - I have a three yr old Blackfoot daisy. How do you root Blackfoot daisy seeds? When is the best month to grow these seeds?
view the full question and answer

What is a cyme-bearing plant for Waco, TX?
June 10, 2010 - I need a wildflower or drought tolerant perennial example of the inflorescence type 'cyme' to plant in a school garden in Waco, TX.
view the full question and answer

Native Trees for Pflugerville TX
September 28, 2013 - I'm looking for suggestions on native, drought tolerant conifers that can be located in a Pflugerville landscape under overhead electric lines. Open to Arizona Cypress, but concerned about the height...
view the full question and answer

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