Written by Tolly Beck
Tolly Beck is the horticulturist at Lasdon Park and Arboretum in Westchester County. She was formerly a horticulture educator for New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland, NY.
What’s In Bloom
Callery Pear Pyrus calleryana
Crabapple Malus spp.
Dogwood Cornus florida
Eastern Redbud Cercis canadensis
Flowering Cherry Prunus spp.
Korean Azalea Rhododendron yedoense
Saucer Magnolia Magnolia x soulangeana
Azalea Rhododendron spp.
Dwarf Fothergilla Fothergilla gardenii
Flowering Quince Chaenomeles spp.
Japanese andromeda Pieris japonica
Korean Spice Viburnum Viburnum carlessii
Lilac Syringa spp.
Mellow Yellow Spirea Spirea thunbergii
Purpleleaf Sand Cherry Prunus x cistena
Scotch Heather Calluna spp.
Old-fashioned Bleeding Heart Dicentra spectabilis
Lenten Rose Helleborous orientalis
Mountain Pinks Phlox subulata
Virginia bluebells Mertensia virginica
Friend of the Pollinators
Butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa, is a valuable native plant addition to any sunny garden. The beautiful, long-blooming, bright orange flowers provide nectar for an array of pollinators including butterflies, hummingbirds and honeybees. Butterfly weed also serves as a larval host plant for the monarch butterfly. The leaves of the plant provide food for the developing caterpillars. Later, emerging monarch butterflies benefit from the nutritious nectar found in butterfly weed flowers.
Butterfly weed ranges from 1-2 feet in height and has a similar spread. It does well planted with other mid-sized perennials in a dry and well-drained area that gets full sun. Butterfly weed will tolerate a part shade location, but that will reduce the amount of flowering. The orange flowers grow in a flat topped cluster that is especially appealing to butterflies who rest there while feeding on the nectar. Flowering continues from mid-summer to early fall. Deadhead the flowers to initiate more bloom. Don’t worry about deer as butterfly weed is deer resistant.
Seed pods are produced as late flowers begin to fade. The pods can be left in place if butterfly weed is planted in a naturalized area where seed dispersal is desired. If planted in a maintained garden just cut pods off of the plant as they begin to dry and split open.
Butterfly weed is slow to emerge in spring so be patient. It is a very hardy perennial growing in hardiness zones 3-9. When butterfly weed does emerge in May, it will bring with it the beauty of bright orange flowers and the knowledge that you are providing a nectar source for so many important pollinators.
Look for Butterfly Weed at the Lasdon Plant sale on May 15th and 16th.