Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Bloodflower, Swallow-wort, Butterfly Weed, Mexican Milkweed, Scarlet Milkweed
Asclepias curassavica 'Silky Deep Red'

Family: Apocynaceae (a-pos-ih-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Asclepias (ass-KLE-pee-us) (Info)
Species: curassavica (ku-ra-SAV-ik-uh) (Info)
Cultivar: Silky Deep Red

One vendor has this plant for sale.

14 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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There are a total of 8 photos.
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7 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Lmaris On Jun 9, 2014, Lmaris from Mission Bend, TX wrote:

This plant grows prolifically in Houston. Last winter we had 3 hard freezes (first time in years) and it froze to the ground, but re-growing from the roots within days.

Anyone who intentionally kills the butterfly larvae on this plant shouldn't be growing it in the first place. This is one of the primary host plants of monarch butterflies, and destroying their larvae is leasing to their decline. Don't want the leaves eaten? Choose another plant or go with plastic plants.

The plant is designed to lose leaves to butterfly caterpillars, and rapidly grows more. It is a joy to watch tiny 1/2" long brightly striped caterpillars grow multiples in size before building a chrysalis and emerging as a butterfly.

Blooms nearly year-round in zone 9b.

Positive bariolio On Apr 25, 2013, bariolio from Houston, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

This butterfly weed has done very well in my Houston flower bed in full sun. They have survived our mild winters and are growing larger. Even though they have been stripped of leaves by the hungry caterpillars, they grow right back. It is fun to find the chrysalis everywhere in the back yard, on rims of flowerpots, on my porch post, on other plants. I love seeing the beautiful Monarchs floating around the backyard. I also have Black Knight butterfly bushes and they love them. This is a beautiful plant and I recommend it to all who love butterflies!

Positive emily11 On Mar 26, 2010, emily11 from Augusta, GA wrote:

I have found this very easy to grow in zone 7b of north GA. It's an annual here, but I allow it to reseed itself in the fall. It comes back every year, but not till early summer. Then they bloom till frost. They grow in a rain garden. After 3-4 years, I still don't get many caterpillars, but I keep hoping more will come!

Positive mjsponies On Feb 10, 2009, mjsponies from DeLand/Deleon Springs, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

Very easy to grow, spreads easily, and gives seeds to share with others.
Host plant for Monarch Butterflies.

As far as I'm concerned the REASON to grow these is for the spray them with pesticides is a shameful !
If you don't want caterpillars, don't plant them.

Positive hummer_girl On Dec 23, 2008, hummer_girl from Saint Louis, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

I purchased this plant a couple years ago from the nursery; their tag shows hardy in zones 7-10. Since I'm in zone 5b/6a, I grow the Butterfly Flower as an annual. I collect seed pods just before they start to split and let the pod dry, and do nothing until the following spring. By then the pod has split on its own (inside a container), and I have hundreds of seeds! I do not stratify the seeds. Around May 1st, when it's warm enough to start seeds outside in pots, I plant my seeds in the container they will be growing in, in a quality potting mix (not a seed starter mix), with some slow release fertilizer mixed in, keep them moist and in a sunny location, and off they go, producing 4' plants with continuous blooms, and ruby-throated hummers regularly coming around for the nectar. For me, this is a very easy plant to grown from seed and maintain through the growing season. In 2009 I'm going to try putting a few plants in the ground, mulching heavily for winter, and see what happens in Spring 2010.

Positive nblady On May 5, 2008, nblady from Mandeville, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

The caterpillar is from the Monarch butterfly. Definitely veracious eater.

Positive LBRILLEMAN On May 1, 2008, LBRILLEMAN from Eustis, FL wrote:

It is true that this plant is eaten by caterpillars everytime it blooms...but my positive experience is to cut the plant with the caterpillars on it, cut several extra stems also...put them in a very large plastic container with a net instead of a lid on top and within 10-14 days you get the treat of a liftetime. The caterpillars develop into crysallis then watch for the crysallis to turn dark...when that happens it won't be long before you see the creation of a beautiful butterfly. I have done this numerous times and even for my daughter's classroom...what a thrill! I definitely can put up with some stripped stems in order to enjoy the beauty of nature!!!!

Neutral spaceman_spiff On Apr 8, 2007, spaceman_spiff from Saint Petersburg, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I've been trying to get a specimen established in my yard for several years now, but it never seems to get much of a chance except become an elongated green stick. Every time it gets to the point where it blooms, there is a species of butterfly (or moth?) that comes and lays eggs which hatch into larvae and devour each and every leaf on the plant, drastically reducing its stamina and basically halting all growth for a period of time.

I have tried my best to remain vigilant as to when it's flowering, because I know that for the next several days afterward I will need to watch for eggs and/or larvae/caterpillars. If I see a batch of eggs laid near the flower, I spray them with a garden-safe insect spray. But often they hatch before I'm aware. Occasionally I manage to get rid of the larvae before they've done too much damage, but this is only a temporary reprieve, because as soon as the plant blooms again, the cycle repeats and it's only a matter of time before the caterpillars get all the leaves before I get all the caterpillars!

I occasionally see articles about this plant in the local paper or mentioned as a nice garden plant to attract butterflies, but I don't understand how anyone would want butterflies to come and have their larvae eat every single last leaf off the plant! Perhaps other gardeners' plants are more healthy/developed and are more able to withstand the caterpillars--perhaps being only partially devoured.

(The same thing holds true for my Dutchman's Pipe vine--Aristolochia elegans. Caterpillars eat every single last leaf off the vine before it can even grow to any size at all).


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Millbrook, Alabama
Scottsdale, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Calistoga, California
Long Beach, California
Napa, California
San Jose, California
Sonoma, California
Vista, California
Clearwater, Florida
Deland, Florida
Eustis, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Palm Coast, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Tampa, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Gainesville, Georgia
Chicago, Illinois
Hebron, Kentucky
Gonzales, Louisiana
Mandeville, Louisiana
Youngsville, Louisiana
Jordan, Minnesota
Kansas City, Missouri
Marthasville, Missouri
Westwood, New Jersey
Lake Toxaway, North Carolina
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Baytown, Texas
Beaumont, Texas
Edna, Texas
Houston, Texas (2 reports)
Killeen, Texas
Los Fresnos, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Willis, Texas

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