How to Propagate Butterfly Weed


Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) can be finicky: It doesn’t like being transplanted and it doesn’t flower until well established. On the other hand, it tolerates dry conditions and different types of soil. It self-seeds and grows on roadsides and backyards wherever conditions are right. You see the bushes of orange, red and yellow flowers as you drive down the highway from the eastern side of the country in New England all the way to the Southwest. But at home, the simplest is to propagate it from a root cutting.

Moderately Easy


things you’ll need:
  • Shovel
  • Shears or garden knife
    1. Dig the butterfly weed in the fall. The bush has a taproot, a central root that grows straight down and from which smaller roots sprout. Instead of collecting a stem cutting, you’ll take cuttings from this central root.
    2. Cut 2-inch pieces of the butterfly weed’s taproot. Mark which end of the cutting grew downward.
    3. Plant the root cuttings in their permanent location, as butterfly weeds don’t transplant well. Bury them in the ground with each end pointing in the same direction they did when they were part of the original plant’s taproot. The top end should be just below the soil line.
    4. Water the soil the root cuttings are in thoroughly. Maintain the ground moist until it freezes. Fall is dormant season for butterfly weed. In spring, you’ll see new shoots where you planted your cuttings.

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