2017 Perennial Plant of the Year — Asclepias tuberosa
A virtually hassle-free, very long lived perennial, offering three months of tangerine orange blooms (occasionally red or yellow) from early through late summer. Deadheading the flowers will stimulate another bloom cycle about a month after the first one. The flowers, which are heavily laden with nectar and pollen, are particularly attractive to hummingbirds, Monarch butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects.
Asclepias tuberosa is a prairie plant native to North America from S. Ontario and New York, west to N. Dakota, southwest to Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico, and south to Florida (zones 3-9). Found naturally in dry fields and on slopes, it does not require rich soil or much moisture. A full day of sun is best along with a slightly acidic, sandy-humus-loam that is well-drained (especially in winter).
Once established, Butterfly Weed is drought-tolerant and requires little care. Though it is perfectly cold-hardy in the north, mulching plants in winter will help prevent frost-heaving. In spring, trim back last year's growth and await the beautiful new foliage which will appear quite a bit later than other perennials. It's a good idea to grow this perennial from seed; division, though seldomly needed, is difficult because of the plant's long tap root.