The butterfly weed is a plant with several surprising characteristics. The monarch, a migratory butterfly designated endangered in Canada, depends on this plant for survival. Flowering takes place from late spring to early summer depending on the climate. It precedes the appearance of fruits at the end of summer.
Its narrow green foliage forms beautiful tufts adorning itself in summer with umbels of starry yellow/orange flowers.
How to care for Butterfly Weed ?
Butterfly weed sometimes requires staking to withstand heavy rain and strong winds.
Remove wilted flowers to prolong flowering.
Fold-down the clump at the end of autumn, unless you want it to dry up again. As it only appears late in spring, mark its location so as not to disturb it.
Install a mulch of bark or pine needles, or dead leaves, to protect the roots in winter.
It is advisable to remove fruit as soon as it forms to encourage new flowering.
In order to encourage the branching of the stems, pruning at the end of the winter can be carried out.
Divide the tuft every 3 or 4 years to regenerate it.
Water moderately in summer, when the plant is in flower, and bring a very diluted liquid fertilizer every month.
- Pinch the stems as of spring to obtain a compact port.
- In winter :
- Put the pots in a cool place (10 °C) and in the light.
- Fold the old plants down to the ground, they will start again from the stump.
- Water only to prevent the potting soil from drying out completely.
- Repot in March.
How to grow Butterfly Weed ?
Butterfly weed is cultivated in pots or tubs. It should be noted, however, that, although considered a frosty plant, it will withstand, occasionally and for short periods of time, negative temperatures close to -23 °F.
For outdoor cultivation: the soil should be light, draining and cool and the location well sunny.
For a potted crop: place the Butterfly weed in full sun, once the frosts have passed and, in the autumn, bring it in cool and light (cold greenhouse, veranda) to allow it to pass winter well.
How to propagate Butterfly Weed ?
Butterfly weed can be multiplied by sowing
- In February, sow the hardy species in buckets under cold cover, transplant outside when the seedlings are about 4 inch high.
- Or sow in place from April to May. Thin out the seedling after emergence.
Recovery is ensured by regular watering, without soaking, the first year. The young plant can take up to 2 years to flower.
Common Diseases and Parasites of Butterfly Weed
The caterpillars of monarch butterflies feed on butterfly weed, which they can completely defoliate. But – fortunately, or not, depending on the point of view – this magnificent butterfly does not live in our regions.
Outdoors, the butterfly weed only has to fear slugs and snails that greedily devour the young shoots, even compromising the survival of the young plant.
Undercover, the whitefly sometimes attacks the plant. Plant nasturtiums nearby, they have a repulsive effect.
The leaves turn yellow and fall off in case of excessive heat or drought. Place the plant in a very ventilated situation. Water more often and make basins.
In addition to its decorative aspect, butterfly weed produces nectar prized by bees, butterflies and other insects. Because of its propensity to spread, it is a good plant to install in a wild meadow, to attract insects.
Flowering takes place from late spring to early summer generally!