Butterfly Milkweed has been listed as plant of the year 2017 by the Perennial Plant Association. I’m not surprised, this ‘weed’ is a beauty. Despite it’s name, it doesn’t act weedy in the garden, so don’t be afraid to add it to your landscape.
It’s just starting to bloom here in Kentucky, with its orange cluster of flowers. This is a plant that pollinators always enjoy, especially butterflies. Butterfly Milkweed is a great addition to a pollinator garden. It likes drier soils and lots of sunlight. How tall/bushy it gets depends a lot on the site where it’s planted. In general it gets about 1-2 feet tall with one to a few stems. This plant doesn’t transplant well with its type of root, so plant it where you want it. I love to pair it with Little Bluestem for its texture contrast and color combo. Its bright orange flower really stands out in the landscape.
Although it’s a milkweed, Monarch caterpillars don’t tend to host on this species. It is somewhat less toxic than other species of milkweeds, which is the attractor for the Monarch. Ever heard the saying ‘You are what you eat”? The Monarch eats the milkweed to become poisonous itself, which makes it not too appealing to eat by predators.
The sap or ‘milk’ omitted when you break a stem is what is toxic, which may or may not irritate your skin. Brushing up against the plant won’t hurt you. If you have pets or children who may try and eat the plant, plant any milkweeds in discreet area out of potential harm.
I will have Butterfly Milkweed, Little Bluestem, and many other plants available for sale soon- mid to late June.