How big does swamp milkweed,butterfly weed get?

chilipete(7)June 29, 2008

Hi

I have a small area of my yard that I'm attempting to convert to a butterfly garden this year. So far, there is a butterfly bush in the center surrounded by black-eyed susans and purple coneflowers. I haven't had much luck yet with the butterflies. I was thinking of adding either a butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) or a swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) or hopefully both. I'm almost out of room though. I've read they get from 2-4 feet high, but I can't tell how wide they get. Some of the pictures I've seen look like they grow almost straight up. How much space do I need to give them?

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bernergrrl(z5 IL)

Hi--So wonderful that you are starting a garden for the butterflies! You may get addicted and start putting in new beds and expanding existing ones. The A. incarnata depending on soil and moisture can get pretty tall 3-4 tall and may need up to 3 feet width. A. tuberosa generally stays about 2 feet and may expand 2 feet or so. I plant my gardens pretty tight so that the there is plenty of cover for the caterpillars and places for them to pupate. I just make sure I keep enriching the soil with a steady supply of compost and organic fertilizer. The butterfly weeds will provide a wonderful nectar source as well as food for the Monarch caterpillar, which tend to be voracious in their later stages.

In order to be very attractive for butterflies, gardens need to have large drifts of nectar rich flowers, so that means having multiple plants all set next to each other.

Have fun!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 8:58AM
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