They are a group of flowering plants aptly named for having a milky latex that can be seen when the plant is damaged
Why are they important?
Aside from their beauty, milkweeds are the main larval source of food for Monarch butterflies which recently were listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
How many kinds of milkweed are there?
We have 12 different species of milkweed on Ichauway, including butterfly weed (what you will be taking home!), but there are 14 different species that can be found across Georgia
What kind of pollinators visit butterfly weed?
An array of different pollinators commonly visit butterfly weed for nectar and pollen, such as bumble bees, honeybees, swallowtails, fritillaries, hairstreaks, and many more!
This species often has many pollinators visiting at once, especially butterflies. Be sure to place your plant in a sunny spot to help attract pollinators to your garden
What time of year should I expect to see flowers and/or fruit?
Butterfly weed generally has a long flowering time from late spring through the summer and commonly fruits in the fall into the early winter
However, new seedlings can take up to three years to flower and set seed, so don’t worry if you don’t see flowers this year!
Should I keep it in a pot or plant it?
Once the seedling is big enough, it is best to plant butterfly weed in the ground rather than keeping it in a pot
What kind of soil does it prefer?
Although butterfly weed is not too picky and can thrive in a variety of conditions, it mostly favors neutral to slightly acidic soil
It also can tolerate dry sandy soils since this is how it usually grows!
Where should I plant it?
Since it naturally grows on roadsides, woodland margins, and dry sandy habitats, it would do well in any sunny spots in your garden or on the edge of your garden to branch out and catch more rays
This species does form deep roots in the soil, so it can make translocation difficult. Make sure you like the spot you pick before planting!
Is there any maintenance I would need to do?
This plant is well adapted to drier or even drought-like conditions, so it doesn’t need much tending to flourish!
What if I want more butterfly weed in my garden?
If your plant successfully sets seed, you could allow it to spread seeds naturally since they disperse by wind. Otherwise, you could hand collect and sow the seeds in your garden in the fall for the following spring
You could also purchase native milkweed seeds or plants from your local native plant nursery! Some suggestions for our area: