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
2 ratings

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

Butterfly Plants for D.C. Garden
July 16, 2015 - I have one half of the side of the house face NE and the other half faces NW. The front of the house faces east. The back of the house faces west which is woody with native trees of Rock Creek Park of...
view the full question and answer

Early nectar blooms for Monarch butterflies from Austin
May 04, 2014 - Could you tell me any early spring blooming nectar plants that monarchs will nectar from. I'm specifically looking for bloom times in March and early April. I have plenty of May blooms but not ...
view the full question and answer

Replacement for Globe Thistle in Virginia
June 15, 2013 - Hi, We are trying to get our garden to be 100% North American Native and are at about 90% native to our region. One of the last plants we have to replace is our Globe Thistle. Do you have a good r...
view the full question and answer

Plant that attracts butterflies, perhaps?
October 06, 2014 - What is that one plant/flower in your Center that attracts wildflowers like crazy? It's got a cute name, not a Latin or Scientific name. I have the plant, but don't know how to make it spread.
view the full question and answer

Plants for shelter for butterflies
July 04, 2010 - I understand that butterflies need certain plants for food, but are there specific plants that butterflies prefer to use as shelter in central Texas?
view the full question and answer

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