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Gardener issues warning after discovering misleading product label from big box store: 'I made this mistake last year'

"Tropical milkweed strikes again."

"Tropical milkweed strikes again."

Photo Credit: iStock

Most people rely on store labels when buying plants to indicate the species they're selecting for their garden. One unfortunate gardener learned the hard way that stores are not always 100% honest with how they label plants. 

Taking to Reddit, one user posted two photos, asking, "What did I really buy from Home Depot?"  

They shared two photos to r/NativePlantGardening. The first shows a green plant with red and yellow buds, and the second photo is of the label identifying the plant as butterfly weed. 

Photo Credit: Reddit

In the comments, the original poster said, "They just started blooming and something didn't look right."

Gardening has been trending toward planting more native and local plants in recent years. According to the 2023 National Gardening Survey conducted by the National Wildlife Federation and the National Gardening Association, "28 percent of U.S. adults are purchasing plants that are beneficial for native bees, butterflies and birds." 

According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, butterfly weed is native to much of the eastern United States and is beneficial to many native insects. It is also called butterfly milkweed and is one of just a few plants on which Monarch butterflies lay their eggs. 

Planting native plants like milkweed is a great way to rewild your yard. You can learn more about the process from our handy guide

This Redditor quickly learned from fellow gardeners that this was indeed a mislabeled plant. 

One helpful person wrote, "Tropical milkweed strikes again. I did this twice last year. Yours is more malicious though because they intentionally labeled it 'butterfly weed red' instead of calling it by its actually used common name or putting its species name on there."

Someone else said, "Looks like you got tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) instead of butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)."

"I made this mistake last year and bought a bunch of plants form HD, they're mostly been ripped out already," wrote another commenter. 

While these two plants are related, they are native to different places and support different wildlife. Tropical milkweed is native to the Caribbean and Central and South America, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. 

Even though this is an unfortunate turn of events for the original poster, there is a silver lining: "Bright side is, they never made it into the ground."

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