Asclepias tuberosa

Butterfly Weed

$3.00 - $300.00

1/8 oz.
1/4 oz.
1/2 oz.
1 oz.
1 lb.


3 Pack
Tray of 38
Out of Stock
Tray of 50

Asclepias tuberosa, Butterfly Weed, is most often a distinctive bright orange but there is some variation in flower color, from deep red-orange to yellow. This distinctive color and the absence of the typical milky white sap that other Milkweed species have make identification easy. The leaves are somewhat narrow, up to 1” and tapered, with no stem and dark green in color.

This is a great Milkweed for a sunny location in a dry area. Mature plants in ideal locations can make as many as 20 stems at an average height of 2’. The vivid orange color, low mounded profile, and ability to attract and sustain butterflies make this plant a well-known landscape favorite for all types of gardens. Like all species in the Asclepias genus, Asclepias tuberosa is one of the larval host plants for the monarch butterfly. 

Butterfly Weed needs a drier, well-drained location to successfully seed into and grow well. In older plants the long tap root can extend down many feet. Due to this deep, drought-tolerant tap root, it can be late to emerge in the spring, especially in northern climates, so be patient. Butterfly Weed can be transplanted if dug carefully during dormancy but if the tap root breaks off, they will regrow. *The dormant tap root you receive may be difficult to tell which end is up. There is usually a noticeable end that is not trimmed; that is the bottom of the root. When in doubt, you can plant it approx 3" deep, on its side. It will reach for light/warmth and straighten out on its own. 

Live Plant Shipping Table

Spring Fall Age/Size
Dormant Bare Roots April/May October 1 Year
Potted 3-Packs* May/June August/September 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep pots
Potted Trays of 38* May/June N/A 2" wide x 5" deep plugs
Potted Trays of 50 May August 2" wide x 5" deep plugs
*This species is also available as part of a 9-plant Pollinator Power Pack (spring or fall) or 38-plant Mix & Match Tray (spring only).

Asclepias tuberosa - Butterfly Weed

Map Key

Present in state
Present but introduced in county
Present and native in county; not rare
Not present in state
Present and native in county; rare
Species extirpated (historic)
State or county listed as noxious
Present in state; exotic

This map shows the native and introduced (adventive) range of this species. Given appropriate habitat and climate, native plants can be grown outside their range.

8 Questions asked on Asclepias tuberosa

When direct seeding asclepias tuberosa in the fall , do you cover the seeds or leave them uncovered?
Great question! When sowing these in the fall you can leave the seeds uncovered and they'll work their way into the soil over the course of the winter.
Is this aggressively invasive the way common milkweed is (spreading roots and plants everywhere)?
Thanks for writing, Vicki. Butterfly Weed does not spread aggressively by rhizomes like Common Milkweed. When mature, a single plant can develop dozens of stems from their crowns, making the plant appear quite wide, but new plants occur from seed.
It's May 20 here in MA and butterfly weed planted last spring have not emerged. Everything around them in 4" or more.
Hi Ed. Butterfly Weed is notoriously late to appear. It has a deep central taproot so needs soil temps to really warm up. Give it at least a few more weeks. I usually see mine early-June here in SE MN.
Do the monarchs lay their eggs on this plant? Is this a food source for the monarch caterpillars?
Hi Holly, while it is not their first choice, Monarchs will lay their eggs on this species and caterpillars can use it as a food source. Monarchs do show a preference towards other milkweed species, but sometimes this is their first choice of foliage in the spring. In addition, many other butterflies will nectar on the flowers.
do these seeds need to be cold stratified before planting?
HI Ed. Yes, most Milkweed species need about 30 days of moist, cold stratification. Note the germination code: C(30) under the 'details' area of the web page.

At this point in mid-Aug, we would suggest Fall planting over artificial stratification. Wait until the dormant season and sow on weed-free, compact ground.

If I cold stratify over the winter and all goes well, how long does it take for the plants mature and bloom?
Hi Debbie, It can take anywhere from 1-3 years for the plant to mature and bloom for the first time, depending on site conditions.
I ended up lucky and about 6-8 sprouted in the same container. They're starting to get some height. Should these be thinned down to just one?
Hi Stephen, Well that depends on how big your container is. Each seedling will grow best if it has it’s own space to develop. If you started from a container like a milk jug, then you can keep all the plants in there for a while assuming they’re spaced out from one another. If you started from a greenhouse flat/tray, then you would only want 1 plant per cell.
Will butterfly weed tolerate being planted under black walnut trees? If not, can you suggest a similar alternative?
Hi Mark, It's hard to say. It may struggle if juglone levels are too high. Searching "Walnut" on our website gives you this extensive list of juglone-tolerant plants. You can use the filter function to further refine your search.


Growing your own plants from seed is the most economical way to add natives to your home. Before you get started, one of the most important things to know about the seeds of wild plants is that many have built-in dormancy mechanisms that prevent the seed from germinating. In nature, this prevents a population of plants from germinating all at once, before killing frosts, or in times of drought. To propagate native plants, a gardener must break this dormancy before seed will grow.

Each species is different, so be sure to check the GERMINATION CODE listed on the website, in the catalog, or on your seed packet. Then, follow the GERMINATION INSTRUCTIONS prior to planting. Some species don't need any pre-treatment to germinate, but some species have dormancy mechanisms that must be broken before the seed will germinate. Some dormancy can be broken in a few minutes, but some species take months or even years.

Seed dormancy can be broken artificially by prolonged refrigeration of damp seed in the process of cold/moist STRATIFICATION. A less complicated approach is to let nature handle the stratifying through a dormant seeding, sowing seeds on the surface of a weed-free site in late fall or winter. Tucked safely beneath the snow, seeds will be conditioned by weathering to make germination possible in subsequent growing seasons.

To learn more, read our BLOG: How to Germinate Native Seeds

Dormant Bare Root Plants

We dig plants when they are dormant from our outdoor beds and ship them April-May and October. Some species go dormant in the summer and we can ship them July/August. We are among the few still employing this production method, which is labor intensive but plant-friendly. They arrive to you dormant, with little to no top-growth (bare-root), packed in peat moss. They should be planted as soon as possible. Unlike greenhouse-grown plants, bare-root plants can be planted during cold weather or anytime the soil is not frozen. A root photo is included with each species to illustrate the optimal depth and orientation. Planting instructions/care are also included with each order.

Download: Installing Your Bare-Root Plants

Potted Plants

3-packs and trays of 32, 38, or 50 plants leave our Midwest greenhouses based on species readiness (being well-rooted for transit) and order date; Spring shipping is typically early May through June, and Fall shipping is mid-August through September. Potted 3-packs and trays of 38 plugs are started from seed in the winter so are typically 3-4 months old when they ship. Trays of 32/50 plugs are usually overwintered so are 1 year old. Plant tray cells are approximately 2” wide x 5” deep in the trays of 38 and 50, and 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep in the 3-packs and trays of 32; ideal for deep-rooted natives. Full-color tags and planting & care instructions are included with each order.

Download: Planting and Care of Potted Plants

*PLEASE NOTE: we are a mail order nursery and have no retail facilities, but you may pick up your order if prior arrangements are made. Pick up orders are subject to **MN Sales Tax.

US Shipping & Handling Charges

SEED $100.00 and under: $5.00
Retail SEED orders over $100.00 ship free!

Custom seed mixes or discounted seed sales over $100, add 5% of the total seed cost
(for orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required)

BARE ROOT and POTTED PLANTS $50.00 and under: $9.00
over $50.00: 18% of the total plant cost. (For orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required.)

TOOLS and BOOKS have the shipping fee included in the cost of the product (within the contiguous US).

**We are required to collect state sales tax in certain states. Your state's eligibility and % will be calculated at checkout. MN State Sales Tax of 7.375% is applied for orders picked up at our MN location. Shipping & handling charges are also subject to the sales tax.

Shipping Season

SEED, TOOLS and BOOKS are sent year-round. Most orders ship within 1-3 business days.

BARE ROOT PLANTS are shipped during optimal transplanting time: Spring (April-May) and Fall (Oct). Some ephemeral species are also available for summer shipping. Since our plants are field-grown, Nature sets the schedule each year as to when our season will begin and end. We fill all orders, on a first-come, first-serve basis, to the best of our ability depending on weather conditions beyond our control.

POTTED PLANTS (Trays of 32/38/50 plugs and 3-packs) typically begin shipping early May and go into June; shipping time is heavily dependent on all the species in your order being well-rooted. If winter-spring greenhouse growing conditions are favorable and all species are well-rooted at once, then we ship by order date (first come, first serve). We are a Midwest greenhouse, and due to the challenges of getting all the species in the Mix & Match and Pre-Designed Garden Kits transit-ready at the same time, we typically can't ship before early May. Earlier shipment requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

*We are unable to ship PLANTS (bare root or potted) outside the contiguous US or to CALIFORNIA due to regulations.


We ship using USPS, UPS and Spee Dee. UPS and Spee Dee are often used for expediting plant orders; they will not deliver to Post Office Box numbers, so please also include your street address if ordering plants. We send tracking numbers to your email address so please include it when you order.



Germination Code
Life Cycle
Sun Exposure
Full, Partial
Soil Moisture
Medium, Medium-Dry, Dry
2 feet
Bloom Time
June, July, August
Bloom Color
Pollinator Favorite: butterflies, moths, bees, wasps, beetles
Bird Favorite: seeds, insects, fruit, nectar, nesting, perch
Deer Resistant
Highly recommended for home landscaping
USDA Zones
Plant Spacing
Catalog Code