Asclepias (Butterfly Weed, Pleurisy Root)

ASCLEPIAS (Butterfly Weed, Pleurisy Root) Asclepiadaceae A. tuberosa

HABITAT: Native United States and Canada. Zone 3.

USES: Cuts, pods for dried arrangements, perennial garden, borders.

HABIT: Perennial, shrubby plant with 2-5 foot flower stalks containing a milky juice are lined with slender, 2-4 inch, hairy leaves and topped by several clusters of small, fragrant, vivid, orange blossoms. Flowers mid summer to early fall. 2-3 inch canoe-shaped seed pods form in fall and open to release clouds of silky seeds.

SEED GERMINATION: For best results, sow indoors on moist Park's Grow Mix, in shallow rows, and cover to their thickness. Sow about 6 to 8 weeks before last frost. Seed to flower first summer from a spring sowing. Place in a warm location about 70°. Gentle bottom heat speeds germination which usually occurs in 20-25 days.

CULTURE: Set 8-12 inches apart in full sun and well-drained, sandy soil. Withstands drought because of long taproot. Dislikes transplanting, so best to leave undisturbed indefinitely. Cultivate carefully and give light watering. Fertilize every other month with balanced fertilizer such as 8-8-8.

INSECTS: Aphids, Beetles, Leafminer, Scale, Thrip: Use an approved insecticide such as Malathion or Diazinon for control.
Caterpillars: Use an approved insecticide such as Sevin for control.

DISEASES: Root Rot: Improve soil drainage and drench soil with an approved fungicide such as Captan or Ferbam for control.
Leafspot, Rust: Use an approved fungicide such as Ferbam, Maneb, or Zineb.
Virus: Destroy infected plants. Control insects.

PROPAGATION: Cuttings, division, seed.

REMARKS: This native American roadside flower is often taken for granted but makes a fine perennial for dry borders and is without serious faults.