Boodflower (Asclepias curassavica), also commonly known as tropical milkweed, is a flowering plant species that is native to the American tropics and has a pantropical distribution as an introduced species. Other common names include cotton bush, Mexican butterfly weed, redhead,scarlet milkweed and wild ipecacuanha.
It is grown as an ornamental garden plant and as a source of food for butterflies. Wide arrays of butterflies are attracted to blood flower. Notably, it attracts members of the Danainae subfamily, such as the Monarch and the Queen. Monarch larvae and adults specifically rely on Asclepias for food and defense. When their young eat the foliage they become distasteful to predators. Hummingbirds and bees are also regular visitors to the showy flowers.
Cultivar ‘Red Butterfly’
The Red Butterfly are vigorous growers with brightly colored flower clusters in red, yellow that are darker than average. The stems are sturdy and flowers excellent for cutting. Tolerant of lean, unimproved soil, it is easy to care and provides wonderful color. Ideal for naturalized areas, meadows, and borders.
In the Garden
The cultivar ‘Red Butterfly’ of Indian bloodflower, sometimes called butterfly weed, are vigorous growers with brightly colored flower clusters in red, yellow that are darker than average. The stems are sturdy and flowers excellent for cutting.
It is native to Mexico and South America and has naturalized throughout subtropical and tropical regions worldwide. Hummingbirds and bees are also regular visitors to the showy flowers. Clusters of attractive buds open to bright scarlet-red and yellow flowers.
Bloodflower needs little attention and provides wonderful color. Ideal for naturalized areas, meadows, and borders.
- Blooms throughout summer.
- Attracts butterflies, especially Monarch.
When cut or bruised, the plant’s stems and leaves exude a milky sap which contains the chemical cardenolide. This chemical is known to be toxic to both humans and animals alike. Consider wearing gloves and eye goggles when working with these plants to avoid possible physical contact to skin and eyes.
Caring & Growing
USDA Hardiness Zone: 8 – 11. Bloodflower is cold sensitive and may not return in the coldest locations.
Tolerate both full sun or partial shade.
It is Adaptable to most unimproved, weak acidic/alkaline soil that is well drained.
Needs regular watering: either weekly, or more often in extreme heat.
Apply light fertilizer for fastest growth. However be aware that fertilizing the plants increases the levels of toxic cardenolides in the plant. This may have a negative effect if it was grown as a butterfly garden as elevated level of cardenolides can stunt or kill butterfly caterpillars.
Misc. Maintenance Tips
Deadhead regularly to ensure flowers blossoming into fall.
Plants may self-sow, so remove their seedpods before they open if you don’t want any unexpected additions to your garden.