Asclepias tuberosa

S & J Nursery’s Guide to Growing

Florida Native Milkweed / Butterfly Weed / Indian Paintbrush / Pleurisy Root

for the Northeast Florida Landscape

(Asclepias tuberosa)

Orange Butterfly Weed is a Florida native plant that can be found growing in its natural habitat of sandy dry soils in Florida.


Grown as a larval plant for the Monarch, Queen and Soldier Butterfly and in the case of Asclepias tuberosa for human medicinal purposes as well, our butterfly plants are grown here on site from seed, cuttings, or divisions and not treated with herbicides or pesticides. See Pesticides on Butterfly Plants for more information

 Preferred Exposure for Native Orange Milkweed:

 – Prefers a bright full sun location but will still grow and bloom nicely in a
partially shaded garden location.

Foliage, Size and Growth Habit of the Native Orange Milkweed:

Foliage:  Asclepias tuberosa has narrow alternating foliage that
swirls up the stem is 4 to 6 inches in length, sometimes longer and deciduous, loosing its leaves during the winter time.

Size when Mature:   It can grow to a height of 2-3 ft high and 2 ft wide.
Asclepias tuberosa has a tendency towards aggressive behavior when planted into it’s ideal environment. Like any native plant, it is very at home here in Florida’s sand and spreads by reseeding itself without assistance from us when it is planted in its ideal location. For the Orange Butterfly weed that preferred environment is dry sandy soils in full sun. Their natural habitat would be much like areas on the side of a highway.

 Growth Habit:   Plants grow from a single stem when young but as they
age the plants will send off suckers from the roots forming a rounded multi stemmed habit. Mature plants will also have a deep tap root running from the main stem into the ground to about 12 inches making survival from transplanting or dividing more difficult. So be sure to take its height and width when mature into consideration when planting so you don’t end up needing to move it later on.

Soil Preference / Salt tolerance of Asclepias tuberosa:

Soil Preference:  Butterfly weed is not that particular about the soil that it is planted into,
providing it is well drained. It will thrive when planted into very well drained sandy soils and is perfect for those hot garden spots where more tender flowers die!

Salt Tolerance:  Salt tolerance for Asclepias tuberosa is poor.

Growth Rate:

– Moderate fast growing plants, Native Orange Butterfly Weed  can be
expected to reach its full height in the first or second growing season depending on when it was planted in the North Florida | Jacksonville | St. Augustine area landscape.


– Bright sunny orange blooms that are recognizable by their typical milkweed leaf pattern and petal count. Asclepias tuberosa will have clusters of flowers that each have 10 petals , 5 down and outward facing petals and 5 upward facing petals. When planted from seeds and not tissue or cutting grown, Asclepias tuberosa will occasionally  show it’s wide genetic gene pool and may have orange yellow and red colored blossoms.

 – Makes great long lasting cut flowers, simply place the fresh cut stems with
already opened flowers immediately into warm water to allow the sap to drain and then stick them into cold water.

Water Requirements:

– Asclepias tuberosa will require supplemental watering when
first planted into the landscape from a container and will thrive without additional irrigation once established into the landscape.

Butterfly, pollinator, Wildlife or Bird Attracting:

– Native Butterfly Weed will attract both butterflies and birds to  your
gardens landscape including Hummingbirds! It is a larval food source for Monarch, Queen and Soldier Butterflies as well as milkweed Tussock moths. Butterflies and other pollinators feed on the nectar the flowers provide.

 – Deer resistant perennial plant

Care of Asclepias tuberosa in the Northeast Florida | Jacksonville | St. Augustine
area landscape:

– Water every other day during the establishment period after planting in the garden from a nursery container, once plants have established themselves into the landscape taper water back to just a weekly application during prolonged droughts.

– Herbaceous perennial plant, but may be a bit slow to start in the spring, so
give them a bit of time to get growing again before you decide they aren’t coming back.

– Fertilize each spring with a shovel full of good garden compost.

Click here for more information on

 Asclepias tuberosa / Butterfly Weed

for the North Florida | Jacksonville | St. Augustine area landscape.