Drought-Tolerant Butterfly Vine Loves the Heat

Updated: Aug. 17, 2022

Need a drought-tolerant, heat-tolerant blooming vine for your flower garden? Butterfly vine might be the answer you're looking for.

Yellow flowers on green butterfly vineCampwillowlake/Getty Images
Yellow flowers on butterfly vine

With a name like butterfly vine, you’d assume this pretty climber would be covered in fluttering wings. And it is—but not the kind you would expect. Instead, butterfly vine (Mascagnia macroptera) is named for its seed pods, which resemble a small butterfly in flight.

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How to Grow Butterfly Vine

Drought Tolerant Butterfly VineJill Staake
Seed pods of butterfly vine change color as they mature, turning from green to brown.

Butterfly vine is native to Mexico and regions south. It grows well in warmer parts of the U.S., especially zones 9 and higher, where it will ramble up to 15 feet high and wide. The delicate yellow flowers, which resemble orchids, bloom starting in spring and continue on throughout the year until frost. The seed pods appear soon after the flowers. They are a light green color at first, darkening to brown as they mature.

  • Common name: Butterfly vine
  • Scientific name: Mascagnia macroptera
  • Growing Zones: 8-10
  • Light needs: Full sun or partial sun

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Drought Tolerant Butterfly VineJill Staake
The delicate flowers resemble orchids, and this plant is covered with them from spring to fall.

Those in zones 8 and even 7 can give this vine a try, especially if planted in a sheltered area that receives plenty of direct sun. Try it up against a west-facing wall, where the radiant heat will protect it. It will die back to the ground in winter, but should return in spring. If you live further north, you can even try growing this as an annual vine, since it grows extremely fast. You will still get plenty of blooms to admire before the cold weather arrives. Collect the seed pods in the fall and start it again each spring.

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Butterfly Vine Benefits

Drought Tolerant Butterfly VineJill Staake
Give butterfly vine room to ramble. It grows quickly!

One of the great benefits of growing this vine in warmer regions is its drought-tolerant nature. This plant loves heat, and it can handle very dry conditions once established. Water weekly, or more often if the vine is growing in a container. Try it in areas that other plants can’t handle; it’s great for planting by a mailbox or another exposed area. Just remember to provide room for it to climb or ramble, or plan to prune it to keep it in check.

The dark green foliage is evergreen and the flowers attract bees.

Next, check out 5 flowering drought-tolerant ground cover plants.