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Asclepias curassavica ‘Silky Gold’ (photo courtesy of Laura Dunkin-Hubby)
Asclepias curassavica ‘Silky Gold’ (photo courtesy of Laura Dunkin-Hubby)

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Zone
Zones vary by species.
Full Sun
Full
Toxicity
All parts of many species are poisonous if ingested.

Asclepias

Asclepiadaceae
Perennials, Flowers

Though some include the word “weed” in their common name, the plants listed here are anything but weeds—they’re showy, easy-to-grow garden plants. All bloom in summer, typically bearing many small, starlike flowers in broad, flattened clusters at or near the branch tips. Their inflated seedpods split open to reveal silky seeds and milky sap. Their nectar attracts butterflies.

Asclepias curassavica (photo courtesy of Annie’s Annuals & Perennials)
Asclepias curassavica (photo courtesy of Annie’s Annuals & Perennials)

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Asclepias curassavica

Zones 8, 9, 12–24; H1, H2; all zones as annual. Native to South America. Woody-based plant with stiff stems and narrow 6-in. leaves; grows to 3 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide. Clusters of vivid red flowers. ‘Red Butterflies’ has bright orange-scarlet flowers. ‘Silky Gold’ is similar but bears bright yellow to yellow-orange blooms. Moderate water.

Asclepias speciosa ‘Davis’ (photo courtesy of Annie’s Annuals & Perennials)
Asclepias speciosa ‘Davis’ (photo courtesy of Annie’s Annuals & Perennials)

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Asclepias speciosa

Native to western and central North America. This striking perennial grows 2–4 ft. tall and not quite as wide; may spread by underground stems to form colonies. Thick, upright stems hold big, softly hairy leaves of gray; summer flowers are 3-in.-wide balls of fragrant, purplish pink. Long winter dormancy; new shoots may not appear until midspring. Needs only occasional water once established.

Asclepias tuberosa (photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.)
Asclepias tuberosa (photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.)

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Asclepias tuberosa

Native to eastern U.S. From a perennial root, many herbaceous stems rise every year to form a clump about 3 ft. tall, 1 ft.wide. Clusters of bright orange flowers attract swarms of butterflies. All types make long-lasting cut flowers. Provide good drainage.

Gay Butterflies strain features yellow, red, orange, pink, or bicolored blossoms; ‘Hello Yellow’ has bright yellow blooms.

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