Butterfly weed is a 2 ft (0.6 m) tall herbaceous perennial that dies back in winter and re-sprouts from its underground tuber each spring. The brilliant orange or red flower clusters appear in midsummer. These are followed by attractive green pods that open to release silky "parachutes" to drift away on autumn winds.
Butterfly weed is a trouble free perennial in zone 4-10 that will come up year after year in the same place without crowding its neighbors. It prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade. Tolerates drought.
Adult butterflies of many species sip nectar from the beautiful blossoms of butterfly weed.
Place the seed in a bag of moist peat moss and keeping it in the refrigerator for ten to twelve weeks. Older seed will not require this cold period to break its dormancy. Direct seed butterfly weed outside, or grow the seedlings in a nursery bed until the plants have five or six leaves, at which time it should be moved to its permanent location. Give the seed proper attention while it is germinating; though the mature plants will tolerate somewhat dry soils, the seedlings need to be kept moist until established. Fall-grown plants will provide moderate bloom the following year, with improved bloom in successive seasons.
If you prefer, you can start butterfly weed in the spring. Follow the same procedures as for fall sowing.