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​BUTTERFLIES AREN'T FREE... ... to dine on just any old flower.

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Asclepias tuberosa

Butterflies are very demanding about their diet. If a garden doesn't offer their favorite flowers, they simply won't visit.

One of the very best perennials for attracting butterflies, including the magnificent Monarch, is Asclepias tuberosa, a.k.a. "butterfly milkweed."

Asclepias

It's not just butterflies that love those cheerful orange flowers and sweet green leaves: A. tuberosa has been named Perennial Plant of the Year for 2017.

Everybody wants to help our beleaguered Lepidoptera and other flying friends. Some just admire their fragile beauty; others appreciate their place in the chain of species and the circle of life. In the garden, altruism and aesthetics find common ground.

Whatever the reason, it's good to grow the flowers that butterflies and other pollinators love and need. Now is the time to get this one established in your garden.

Asclepias incarnata is native throughout most of North America and even into Mexico. It prefers damp or marshy areas, but will sometimes tolerate drier conditions. It is a favorite of nectar seeking insects and a host plant for Monarch and Queen butterflies. Reliably hardy well into Canada, it withstands harsh winters and blistering summers. As long as it has adequate moisture during its growing season, there are very few places it will not grow. Ideal conditions are damp, sunny meadows and flood plains and it can reach 5 feet in good conditions. Drier conditions produce shorter specimens.

Butterfly milkweed isn't free, either - but it's very reasonable. Don't just perch there fluttering your wings: plant butterfly plants. Click here for more butterfly plants.

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