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Butterfly weed is a must for pollinator gardens

This week’s National Wildflower Week celebrates blooms that bring landscapes to life. Whether in prairies, pastures, along roadsides or in back yards, wildflowers create habitat, help conserve water and reduce erosion.

There are lots of beautiful wildflower species that provide food for bees, birds, butterflies and other pollinators, but one of the showiest wildflowers is Butterfly Weed. This year, ATC plans to give away more than 10,000 butterfly weed seed packets as part of our Grow Smart program.

“Butterfly Weed is a must for any pollinator garden,” said Melinda Myers, nationally known gardening expert, TV/radio host, author, columnist and speaker. Since 2014, ATC has partnered with Myers to help landowners learn about compatible low-growing vegetation near transmission lines. “This stunning orange wildflower blooms from June to late August and is a favorite food source of the Monarch butterfly caterpillar.”

Interesting facts about Butterfly Weed:

  • Butterfly weed is a host plant for the monarch, queens and gray hairstreak butterflies.
  • It lacks the milky sap common to other milkweed species, but does produce seed pods containing hundreds of seeds with large silky tufts of hair that help the wind disperse the seed.
  • Butterfly weed is also known as “pleurisy root” because Native Americans used to chew the roots as a remedy for pleurisy and other pulmonary issues. The root was also commonly brewed into a tea to treat diarrhea and other stomach problems.
  • Native to the prairies of the Midwestern United States, it reaches 2 feet in height and prefers dry soils in full to partial sunlight.

Need additional wildflower suggestions? View or print our Grow Smart Planting Guide or Grow Smart Pollinator Guide and bring it to your local garden center.