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Clippings: #Perennial #Plant of the Year: Butterfly Weed

Perennial Plant of the Year: Butterfly Weed

Perennial Plant of the Year: Butterfly Weed

What’s a garden without butterflies? As gardeners focus more on native plants that support pollinators, the Perennial Plant Association made a brilliant choice and named Asclepias tuberosa — butterfly weed — as its 2017 Perennial Plant of the Year.

Native to the continental United States, butterfly weed’s orange/red/yellow flowers are a show-stopper for people and magnet for pollinators in sunny flower beds with average to dry soils.

Here’s some information from the Perennial Plant Association:

Pollinators – Many bees, wasps, ants, butterflies, beetles and hummingbirds. Butterfly weed is a member of Apocynaceae, or milkweed family. All members of the milkweed family serve as larval food for the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), Queen Butterfly (Danaus gilippus) and the Milkweed Tussock Moth (Euchaetes egle).

Hardiness — USDA Zones 4 to 9

Light – Butterfly weed grows best in full sun.

Soil – Grows best in well-drained soils and it is drought tolerant.

Uses – Butterfly weed is a perfect selection for full-sun meadow or prairie gardens as well as formal to semi-formal urban gardens. Flower arrangers and the plants make long-lasting cut flowers.

Monarch butterfly on butterfly weed

Unique Qualities – Asclepias tuberosa are butterfly magnets. Flowers are a nectar source for many butterflies and leaves are a food source for the monarch butterfly caterpillars.

Maintenance –  Plant in masses. Butterfly weed pairs well with summer blooming Phlox, Hemerocallis, Liatris, Echinacea, Salvia, and most of June/July sun loving perennials. Reaches 2-3’ high with a 2’ spread. Cut back in early spring. Mulch young plants to prevent frost heaving. Be patient since butterfly weed is slow to emerge in the spring. Cutting back once, early in growth cycle, will promote compact growth.

Butterfly weed has no serious insect or disease problems. Deer usually avoid it. Deadheading Asclepias tuberosa should prevent reseeding and promoting a second push of color later in the season.

The Perennial Plant of the Year program showcases a standout perennial.  For other recommended perennials to add to your garden, be sure to search the Plant Database.

Hershey: Hershey Gardens

Hershey gardensHershey, Pennsylvania

Hershey Gardens

When asked to sponsor a national rosarium in Washington, D.C., chocolate magnate Milton Hershey instead decided to create “a nice garden of roses” for his local community.

Now Hershey Gardens comprises 23 acres, with themed gardens  including  Japanese Garden, Herb Garden, perennial garden, an Arboretum with horsechestnuts, Persian parrotia, bald cypress, beech, hemlocks and fragrant snowbell , an Oak Grove,

  • Rose Garden. More than 5,600 roses representing 275 varieties, some originally hand-planted by Mr. Hershey’s gardeners — Hybrid Tea, floribunda, shrub, and miniature roses, and new AARS rose variety winners.
  • Butterfly House Walk with 350 North American butterflies of nearly 25 varieties. Open from Friday, May 24 through Sunday, September 15, 2013. The entire lifecycle of the butterfly can be viewed, with nectar plants for food and host plants for egg-laying and caterpillar feeding. Note: Closed during inclement weather and during extreme heat. Due to space limitations, strollers not permitted.
  • Children’s Garden. Of course there are Hershey’s kisses misters, along with 32 themed gardens

Over 5,600 roses, representing 275 varieties,  Visiting:
Open daily for the 2013 season beginning on Thursday, March 28 and continuing through Sunday, November 3. The Gardens is open on select days in November and December. Wheelchair accessible.

170 Hotel Road, Hershey, PA 17033, phone 717-534-3492

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Rockford: Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden


Rockford, Illinois

Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden

The Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden is beautiful throughout the year. Features around the 155-acres include the Nancy Olson Children’s Garden and a Prehistoric Garden, as well as other specialty gardens including Hosta, Grass, Butterfly, Daylily, Peony, Rhododendron and Azalea and, Wildflowers.

In addition, a bur oak grove covers 12 acre, with the largest bur oak trees estimated at over 300 years old. Impressive native trees among the grove include an enormous basswood, giant black cherries, white oak, shagbark hickory, black walnut and hackberry. Plus, over fifty species and cultivars of coniferous evergreens on site represent nine groups from North America, Europe and Asia.

Woodland trails include 1.5 miles of paved paths in two loops and 2.5 miles of unpaved trails through the heart of the Arboretum. In the winter, the trails are great for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

What’s Special

During your visit, see if you can spot the Klehm Arboretum mascots (pictured): Cow-li-flower, Klehmentine and Flora Fauna.


Open Daily: 9am – 4pm

2715 S. Main St | Rockford, IL

(815) 965-8146

Email Klehm

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Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden

Berlin Agave Yucca ForestDBG

The Desert Botanical Garden, located among the red buttes of Papago Park, showcases the unique beauty of the Sonoran Desert. This 145-acre southwest desert garden has more than 50,000 desert plants –  Cactaceae (Cactus), Agavaceae (Agaves), and Aloaceae (Aloes) — along with 169 rare or endangered plant species, especially from  the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico.

Special attractions includetThe Desert Discovery Loop Trail with access the Sybil B. Harrington Cactus and Succulent Galleries, the Berlin Agave Yucca Forest, the Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Trail, the seasonal butterfly exhibits in the Marshall Butterfly Pavilion and the Sonoran Desert Nature Loop Trail. (Does the cholla cactus really jump? You’ll find out!)

Open daily, except July 4, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day

1201 N. Galvin Parkway Phoenix, AZ 85008

Photo: Berlin Agave Yucca Forest, Desert Botanical Garden

Website: Desert Botanical Garden

Huntsville Botanical Garden

daylilies Huntsville96_headerImage_huntsville

Huntsville, Alabama

Huntsville Botanical Garden

There are 112 acres of beautiful gardens and walking paths, including a butterfly garden, herb garden, fern glade, a Washio Ishii Bonsai Display and much more.

A G-scale garden railway operates from mid-March through December.

The American Hemerocallis Society display garden features approximately 800 cultivars of daylilies with an annual Daylily Festival held on Father’s Day.

There’s also a two-acre Children’s Garden with a maze, a real Space Station node (donated by Marshall Space Flight Center), Storybook Garden with toadstool seating, a pergola; a hidden garden gate, a wishing well, and a yellow brick road.

Gift shop, tea room, picnic areas and pavilion. Seasonal Butterfly House, Spring Festival of Flowers, Scarecrow Trail and Galaxy of Lights from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve.

The Gardens are closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.[ info ]

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