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The All-Star Pollinator Magnet

Butterfly weed is the Perennial Plant of the Year for 2017.

Butterfly weed
Butterfly weed is certainly not a weed. It is a Perennial All-Star!
Have you seen a flower catalog recently? I just saw one that claims it offers more than 100 new perennials every year! With so many choices, how can anyone feel confident when trying to select the best plant?

That’s why I like the Perennial Plant Association. They have an award process where their members vote on the finest perennials. Every year they select a proven performer that is: 

  • Low maintenance.
  • Pestfree.
  • Adaptable to many situations.
  • Widely available in stores. 

These are the All-Stars of Perennials, and the winner for 2017 is butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa).

Butterfly weed will bloom all summer in vibrant shades of tangerine orange, yellow and red. The flowers are full of nectar and pollen, making them irresistible to butterflies, hummingbirds and bees.

Its long bloom time, striking colors and refined plant habit make this plant a favorite choice among gardeners seeking Monarch butterflies.

You can enjoy the colorful blooms as a long-lasting cut flower. The white, silky hairs of the seed pods are showy in dried arrangements as well.

Asclepias tuberosa is native to the prairies of North Dakota. The plant is long-lived and tolerant of drought. It is subject to no serious insect or disease problems.

Select a sunny, well-drained spot. Its tap root makes it difficult to move once established. Mulch it over winter to protect its roots from heaving.

Butterfly weed has always been a favorite in prairie and meadow gardens. Now it’s become an All-Star throughout America as we appreciate its value in supporting pollinators in our environment.


Written by , Extension Horticulturist, North Dakota State University. Published in the NDSU Yard & Garden Report, July 15, 2017. Photos were made available under Creative Commons licenses specified by the photographers. Martin LaBar, Walter's Gardens, Inc. and Martin LaBar.

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