Asclepias tuberosa var. interior - BUTTERFLY MILKWEED - CLAY VARIANT

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Favorite perennial with orange flowers and many butterflies around. Natural variety "interior" is more suitable for heavier or clay soil with average (medium) moisture to dry.

Butterfly milkweed can be easily grown by seed, but it takes about 2-3 years, till it’s fully established and once planted, it’s better to leave undisturbed and not try to move (doesn’t move easily due to it’s deep tap root). Genus name honors the Greek god Asklepios the god of medicine, it’s also called pleurisy root in reference to a prior medicinal use of the plant roots to treat lung inflammations.

Looks very good in sunny borders, prairies, naturalized areas, butterfly gardens, pollinator gardens, monarch gardens or on dry edges of rain gardens. Can be planted in masses or as scattered individual plants.

Goes well with these native perennials : Antennaria, Aster (A. ericoides, A. oblongifolius, A. laevis, A. oolentangiensis), Amorpha canescens, Anaphallis margaritacea, Baptisia tinctoria, Callirhoe, Campanula rotundifolia, Coreopsis, Dalea, Echinacea, Eryngium yuccifolium, Liatris, Oenothera, Rudbeckia hirta, R. missouriensis, Silphium laciniatum, Verbena stricta and grasses like Andropogon, Boutelloua, Koeleria, Panicum, Schizachyrium or Sporobolus.

Because Butterfly milkweed’s flowers usually still have some yellowish undertones, the best perennial combinations are with blue, purple blue and steel blue flowers – these are the best duo combinations – Agapanthus, Calamintha nepeta, Echinops ritro, Eryngium, Geranium ‘Azure Rush’, Geranium ‘Rozanne’, Lavandula, Liatris, Nepeta x faasenii – all cultivars, Perovskia, Salvia nemorosa (S. x sylvestris), Salvia verticilata ‘Purple Rain’, Veronica spicata or blue flowering annuals like Salvia farinacea, Verbena bonariensis.

Very nice combinations are with silver leaves of Artemisia, Santolina or Lavandula.


Blooming time : June to August

Size : 2-3’ tall x 2-3’ wide, spacing 12-18"

USDA zones : 3 to 9

Culture : full sun, half-sun, average soil, heavier soil, clay, dry clay. Don’t plant in wet or waterlogged soils! 

Moisture Needs : dry, medium-dry, medium

Origin : native wildflower in eastern and central USA, from Canada to Florida and west to Arizona. Naturally grows in sand prairies, hill prairies, savannas, open rocky woodlands, roadsides. See USDA distribution map.

Deer/rabbit resistant : yes / yes. Poisonous to herbivores.

Attracts Butterflies or Pollinators : Important monarch plant! Attracts also many bees –honeybees and native bees like digger bees, leaf-cutting bees, Halictid bees (including green metallic bees) and wasps - thread-waisted wasps, other Sphecid wasps. Good butterfly plant for Fritillaries and Swallowtails. Some insects feed destructively on the leaves, flowers and buds, seedpods, and other - larvae of the Blackened Milkweed Beetle, the Small Milkweed Bug, the Large Milkweed Bug, larvae of a butterfly, the Monarch (Danaus plexippus), and larvae of a moth, the Unexpected Cycnia and Curve-tailed Bush Katydid.

Attracts Hummingbirds : yes, Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Pot Size : 3.5" x 4" deep perennial pot

Picture copyright : US Perennials nursery