I do this by leaving the seeds out in a bowl overnight. Hi Linda, I would cold stratify the seeds in your refrigerator before planting. For thriving plants, it’s best that they go through the winter part of the growth cycle outdoors. You can actually store it as is in a paper bag until you’re ready to plant, or you can go ahead and clean the seed now to make it easier to store (in a cool place – preferably a refrigerator, which keeps the seed at a constant cool temperature. We are wondering if these new ones will give us some more pods of seeds. Article by Monarch Butterfly Garden. But if you haven’t mastered the art of defluffing your seeds things can get a little messy. Unfortunately, any immature seeds collected will not develop further so just harvest and plant (or store) the ones that are fully mature… If you’re interested in starting a garden: Hi Tony, I have six common milkweed that I purchased and planted this past Spring in a large galvanized tub. I have been scattering extra seeds at lakes, parks and other public places. I have about 50 milk weed plants in my back yard. Here’s one to consider: Hi, I have probably 15 pods on the few plants that popped up at our new home. Tips for harvesting milkweed seeds Step 1: Harvest seed pod from milkweed plant Pick pods as they turn brown, dry and mature. Thank you for your time. I have pastures full of milkweed…. Hi Anissa, tropical milkweed is a continuous bloomer…and seeder! Is there any way that I can get the seeds to mature in the rest of the pods before planting? If you have an abundance of milkweed, you are more likely to have some that reaches it’s full potential. What’s the purpose in separating the fluff? Because you’re planting in the fall, you won’t need to water after this until early spring when the seeds start to germinate. This summer and wanted to help the butterfly’s . I bought some tropical milkweed in the spring just for the looks of it collected seeds and propagate some which was easy . Hi Laura, what species of milkweed are you growing? HTH. But, if you want a mature plant to start next season, you can overwinter indoors. Do not collect open pods with numerous milkweed bugs on the seeds or pods. For growing information, you can read our article here: How to grow milkweed. If you want to boost their odds of survival even more, raising a few indoors definitely helps and it’s amazing to watch their 30 day transformation. WE love seeing them and noticed not so many as when we we’re young we love to try and help bring them back for are grandchildren to enjoy and appreciate . Also, being in zone 9a with the lowest winter temperatures being in the mid 20’s or so usually a few days of the year with fluctuating extremes to highs in the 70’s, is fall seed planting still possible when you generally have low chill factor? It’s easiest to open the pod completely and pop out the center part with all the seeds on it. If your region doesn’t have a true winter, you can always cold stratify milkweed seeds in your refrigerator: Milkweed being perennial, I assume I can leave mine alone (that first sprouted this year), disregard the pods/seeds and the original plants will sprout again next spring (I’m in Chicago). Can also grab seeds out of opened dried pods and place seeds in a baggie for indoor spring planting the next year (if living in a four-season environment). Tie Organza Bags around the pods to collect the seeds. I’ve been riding through local alleys on my recumbent trike, blowing milkweed seeds onto the little weedpatches between the garages and the pavement. They flowered for a week or two, then stopped. In your region, I would try refrigerator stratification so the seeds get adequate cold treatment: Hi…I was just given some milkweed seed pods that were harvested in Michigan and I live in California. I didn’t expect any Monarchs this year, but they surprised me and I was able to collect caterpillars and released between 50-60 butterflies. Thank you for your time. Hi Mike, Wonderful information on the butterfly habitats! Do you know where I could buy mesh bags to protect my seed pods while they are forming and growing?? I collected a several milkweed seed pods of different native Illinois varieties yesterday and forgot and left them in the car this morning. Here’s info on swamp: Thanks for the information. Hi Kathryn, you can donate to organizations like monarch watch or save our monarchs or join a butterfly facebook group to trade with other enthusiasts…, If any of your readers have extra seeds, they can be sent to the Live Monarch Foundation. In the future, let the pods start splitting at the seam before you harvest. Check out Asclepias perennis. Hi Kate, you can fall plant milkweed seeds directly, winter sow, or plant in spring: I don’t have any pods my milkweed has been stripped down to just a few leaves at the top! Only a small percentage of milkweed seeds will break dormancy when planted in the Spring. We’ve written a detailed guide (with pictures) for all Milkweed Plants. Grip the floss end of the cluster with one hand and gently remove the seeds from the floss with the other hand, brushing them off into a bowl. If you store them in plastic bags, make sure they are completely dry before putting them in to avoid mold. Plenty of caterpillars, chrysalis.. Butterfly’s but no pods. Note that none of the other A. tuberosas I planted were flowering when this particular plant was flowering and I don’t think I’ve ever seen A. tuberosa growing wild in my immediate area. I really didn’t want to put straw out in fear of spreading other seeds that I may not want. The seeds naturally spread by water, so no fluff required. You can also press on the seam of each pod to see if it starts to pop. I waited until my native milkweed pods turned brown and cracked open but there were only seeds inside, no fluff. Could I ask please roughly how many days the giant swallow tail larvae spend as a larvae before turning into a chrysalis? Hi Kelly, I keep seeds for about 3 years before replacing them…I’m sure some last longer but I want to insure a high germination rate. The seeds require several weeks of cold temperatures to germinate. Then they devour the seeds. I found one big girl eating a milkweed seed pod! Other sources say they won’t mature if picked too soon. Why? Plant them in full sun in groups of three to six spaced 6 to 24 inches apart scattered around your garden. We live by the side of the lake that moderates temperatures. They have points at the tips. Leave the seeds in a bowl until they are thoroughly dry. have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality. As for cutting back plants, if you are in region where milkweed doesn’t die back over winter, plants should be cut back to between 6-12″ at least once a year to promote healthy new growth without OE spores. Milkweed seeds will germinate better if they are cold stratified. I have read somewhere that most milkweed species require cross pollination from separate plants for fertilization and viable seeds to occur. To harvest the milk thistle seeds, place all of the heads in a paper bag and put it in a warm place. Sow your milkweed seeds in early spring. Hi Tony, I live in Southern California and I have about 10 tropical milkweed plants in my garden. They had not split open yet so I manually opened them. Any advice as to when to start the little guys? This year’s harvest of the Tallgrass Prairie Center’s A. tuberosa plots yielded 8.29 bulk pounds of seed in September, which were harvested both by hand and mechanically. If you’re going to get a hard freeze, you could always take a stem cutting with the pods attached and place the cutting in water. Hi Susan, I would not spray soap on plants that are currently hosting monarchs, but they should be safe after they are rinsed off with water. I normally cut or dig out and burn. Last fall collected 40 milkweed pods. I have had good luck with the milk jug method in the past, will try that with these. Will plant in Nov. when the pods burst open does the fluff fly everywhere? I separated a batch of seeds yesterday wearing gloves and I can mail them to Florida today on Halloween! Hello! Hi Carollynn, I would fall plant them now…they still have plenty of time to get acclimated before winter. congrats on a successful season! I am south of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and on the shore of Lake Michigan. How come some plants have pods and others have 3 or more pods? I still have my tropical milkweed outside and the pods do not appear to be ready to harvest the seeds. the seeds ran about $450 per acre and each acre of seed would fill a couple of coffee cans. Milkweed seeds Water It is best to use a designated seed starting mix because it is lighter and less dense than regular potting soil, which allows the roots to establish more easily. I have seen a couple straggler Monarchs this far north in Chicago still the last couple days! They haven’t grown that much and I don’t see any seed pods. Thank you! The resulting caterpillars then eat the leaves of the milkweed plants and build their pupas on the milkweed plants. I’m in NY and a friend from Wisconsin sent me milkweed pods over a year ago. I harvested and replanted lots of seeds (and gave lots away). Hello, Di…the fluff makes a big mess and blows all over the place. See their instructions here: I got a couple of milkweed pods from my brother in NY. I had so many milk weed bugs I didn’t know what to do. What do I do next? Lots of work but turn out great. We have enough milkweed so I let ours stay, but when you have a limited supply they can be a pain. Thanks, Tom. My first try at planting milkweed seed. I assume they were predated by something, but they may have been big enough to start pupating though I saw evidence of such. Hi Sandra, after cutting back plants you can also use a hydrogen peroxide mix to kill pathogens on the remaining plant and surrounding soil. It is probably not native to precisely my area but is common in the state just north of me. Where are some resources for those of us in Oregon. Also, we have one batch of swamp milkweed Ina large pot. Two years? Is it a good idea to plant them here? Set the temperature on the propagation mat to 86 F during the day. Hi Cathern, they won’t develop anymore after they’ve been plucked from the plant. Its the only one Im having a hard time finding. Hi Gayla, sorry to hear. Thank you. Hi Carolyn, if you have a huge infestation you can always flick some into a bucket of soap water, which we do with Japanese beetles when their numbers start to spike…good luck! You’ll also get new plants from seeding and some species (like asclepias syriaca) spread by underground rhizomes. Step 3: Carefully remove the milkweed seed cluster. The Ascelpias viridis (spider milkweed) plants will be spaced 1.5 to 2 feet apart. This will help the seeds dry completely. Thank you. We have mostly been having sun, but some clouds will come this week. Hopefully you have helped me get the one wild egg I found to become beautiful Monarch butterfly It is now a 2 day old chrysalis and I’m an anxious Mom waiting for a butterfly to emerge . My house backs up to a canyon, so I would consider it an open space, and saw one Monarch. Its May here in Florida. Thanks Nancy. We have them here in Louisiana as well. 4 – Open the pods, remove the fluff (or feathers, floss – everyone seems to have a different name) Take a pod, and identify the base and top. Tony, Just want to say thank you for all of this good information. Want to help stop the decline of monarch butterfly populations and bring more of these fluttering beauties back into your garden? Can you leave a section of milkweed for the Monarch? Hi Laurie, much of the perennial milkweed species in Michigan will not thrive in your region. I’ll be saving many seeds and planting them this fall but will also be donating many to a Monarch organization. When you are ready to harvest seeds, pry open the dried pods at the split seam before the fluffy floss escapes. Are the kids old enough to follow those rules? WE learned a lot when we visited the reptile land in PA. Monarch Butterfly Garden- Bring Home the Butterflies, Butterfly Garden Ideas and Gardening Tips to Attract Monarchs, Swallowtails, Hummingbirds, and other Precious Pollinators. Is there a reason to not plant the seeds with the fluff? Hi Tony, man your a cutie! 1-2 months after your seedlings have sprouted next spring, pinch off extra plants (or consider transplanting) to achieve ideal spacing for your specific milkweed. The plants are suppose to be perennial. How to Grow & Harvest Milkweed When to Plant. Any chance that I can contact “Irene”, the lady that wants seeds for her 40 acre garden? Thanks. PS…thanks for the milkweed offer but we are good . Meanwhile, I will spend my day putting organza bags around the still green milkweed pods in my garden. There are plant/seed vendors listed here: I find it interesting that MNL says milkweed seeds will ripen in the pods if picked too soon. What other varieties would you suggest for Southern Ca.? Hi Dick, you can reply to her comment and see if she gets back to you. Do not collect seeds of rare or endangered milkweeds. HARVESTING: STEP 1: Hold split milkweed pod inside a paper grocery bag. Here is more info: Do I best NOT use the seeds if IF OE MAY be present. Only during the spring before flower buds form can milkweed be mistaken for its mildly poisonous neighbor, dogbane. If that’s the case I would wait until fall, winter sow, or plant earlier next spring. Hi Laura, I separate the seeds from the fluff right after harvesting. If you pick pods and open them to discover light brown (or white!) Great job! If you’re trying to store them or plant them, all it does is get in the way…. At least I’ve done my part to try and attract them. Should I wait until January, or after refrigerating seeds, start them now–ion the fall? I had caterpillars on the plants until almost the end of October. . If so, please post a comment below and let us know your seed germination rate the next season. The weed takes away from the native grass. I have never seen a cat eat a seed pod before. You don’t have to do anything unless you have a specific milkweed plan in mind…. It is so much information I will have to read it over again. Kept in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped in plastic. I got allot but some clearly are not ready and splitting open…… So now what? Hi Diane, they need to be cold stratified until you are going to plant them. In short, the cold temperature breaks or softens the hard outer casing of the seed so it can sprout easier. So, I’m hoping I have lots more milkweed next year. If you took the stalk and placed it in water with pods attached that were close to maturity, that might work…or stick the stem part emerging from the pod into a floral tube. Empty the contents of … Dill garden?!?!?) Avoid introducing milkweed bugs into the bags in which you are placing pods. So I assume they eventually turned in to Butterflies. However, it’s no fun to separate seeds after the pods have burst open because of the fluffy mess! These seeds are ripe and dispersing. I am ready to start planting my native pink swamp milkweed seeds, in trays, in a protective screened enclosure. If the plants don’t die back, the pods should continue to develop and produce seed….good luck! They seem to just grow on their own. One year? My honeyvine milkweed (grown from seed this year) bloomed and made pods. The damage is often difficult to see. When I remembered them about noon, the car was closed up and the inside temp measured about 110°F. The seed is still viable! Should I replant them in the ground now, wait until Spring, or just leave them in the tub and they’ll be fine? There are hundreds of seeds in each pod. Five? However, it’s no fun to separate seeds after the pods have burst open because of … Interesting ideas. Happy Harvesting! Tony , I have three Chrysalis yet to emerge outside yet,have six Chrysalis inside yet also will it be late for these to get to Mexico ? The pods open when the seeds are ready to go so you can just reach in and take as many as you need. Hi Ariana, our purple milkweed has never seeded. When do I release them outdoors? Hi Kim, if you picked all the pods there’s not a lot you can do. It was an awesome experience – I planted a butterfly bush this spring and on the day of the Eclipse was when my 1st Monarch’s appeared. Hi Dick, there’s really not right/wrong ways…there’s what works for your particular situation and what doesn’t. The pods are closed up and green,and are safe in my garage. My living room and myself are getting very fluffy! How To Harvest Milkweed Seeds…Fluff Be Gone! These are also a great way to gift seeds for the upcoming holidays: I got this idea when picking pods after a rain storm. Why is it necessary to separate the seeds from the fluff? One of them was a little purplish. Thoughts please. This is quite a service. I have nearly a cup full of pure seeds and need to know the best approach for storing and seeding. Oh, and I have one more question. The rule of thumb for harvesting wild plants is to leave at least 2/3rds of the plant to ensure that the wild population will continue to thrive. The pennies will help separate the seeds. Because if you plant with the fluff attached, all it takes is a light breeze and your efforts are literally gone with the wind. Fine to harvest but easier if still contained in the pod for the method described here. Hi Chris, thanks for the reminder about donating extra seeds. That is good for the mob of monarchs. 2a. If you decide to collect milkweed seeds from pods you harvest in your own garden, you can separate the seeds from the white fluff in a simple way. Most have gone to Mexico. It is swamp milkweed with the small white blooms. Hi Tony, I’ve seen your other article about raising Giant Swallow Tail. They distribute the seeds for free every spring. The plant was about 4 feet tall and the pods were slender and smooth. I will be collecting close to 100 pods this fall and I would be happy to donate some to Irene. Granted I may be paying more attention now but that can’t be all of it in this case. Will the seeds from fluffless pods still be viable? I have noticed that other milkweed that I’ve bought, haven’t give any pods. The fluff will be attached but the paper bag and coin method seperates them. Hi Dick, if they are close to maturity they might be ok for planting. Do you accept other species of milkweed? and several new plants have popped up. I have 5 varieties of milkweed. Monarch Butterfly Kits to Raise Caterpillars into Butterflies, 25 Milkweed Plant Ideas for North American Butterfly Gardens, Winter Sowing Milkweed Seeds Part 1: Supply Checklist. You can cut back milkweed stalks in fall or spring. I was collecting milkweed pods in a field and I came across a pod that I did not recognize. I kept them, after separating the fluff, in our freezer. We were thinking of doing that too – ideally, having them harvest them from the pods and plant them. 3 Big Advantages of Winter Sown Milkweed + Winter Sowing Container ideas, Fall is here and the time has come to harvest future plants from your milkweed pods. Milkweed Seeds Ripe for Harvest, Gather them Now for Future …Jun 2, 2011 … One of many fun facts about milkweed is that the silky fluff, or seed threads attached to each seed, are more buoyant than cork. I can return to the areas I picked last year plus our plants and hope to have many more seeds. We are expecting low 20s in temperature in the next week here in southern Illinois. I just planted a few A. tuberosa this spring and only had a handful germinate. They are not ready to pop, but the weather is now getting colder, 65 to 75 degrees during the day, 45 degrees at night. I am in Northern Illinois btw. Hi Vickie, it could be purple milkweed (asclepias purpurascens) but check out 25 species here: Milkweed for North American Butterfly Gardens. It has seed pods though and they do not look even close to ripe. You can try planting to see if they’re viable, but I would harvest some more if possible. I’m in zone 6. This gives them the cold stratification they need to come out of dormancy and sprout, when you finally plant them. The seed is simple to harvest from the ripe pods. Otherwise, no…. Leave this pod alone to scatter seed in the wind. I now have problems doing the same with milkweed I find in ditches and fields I found several varietys but no luck … I planted some butterfly weed seed a few weeks ago but I did not refrigerate the seed . They especially need northern varieties of seeds. I have about an acre of land between my yard and a wet land area. ), Did you forget to separate seeds upon harvesting? I never noticed any seed pods until now (December 29). I live in a suburb of Washington DC. I don’t know if they are viable or not, but they look good and they might be okay. You can also start stratified seeds indoors in late winter. plenty of bees on the flowers but no seed pods this year. It’s impossible to stop all the predators, but you can always raise a few monarchs indoors to boost their survival rate…from 5% to over 90%. I was so excited I finally got milkweed to grow and now I find it is tropical milkweed. They were a good size but disappeared a few days after I spotted them. Do you lay them on paper? Here are 10 Easy Steps for Fall Planting Milkweed Seeds, Donate your extra native milkweed seeds to Monarch Watch for their monarch habitat restoration efforts: Donate Milkweed Seeds Info, Questions or Comments about How to Harvest Milkweed Seeds? Again, it would help if I knew where you were located. Thank you for the advice. I just started with Monarch’s this season and I’ve raised 30 and released all but 6….I live on 32 acres in MD and have space for a GOOD milk weed garden…. Don’t Pick Pods Before Their Time. I love monarchs and will leave them to grow to encourage the butterflies to come. If so, what should I do? You can still separate the fluff indoors without making a mess…. More info here: We live in Ontario, Canada, about two hours driving time west of Ottawa. On October 24, 2017, we found, and photographed 3 monarch butterflies feasting on a bed of cosmos blossoms that had not yet been hit by frost. I was wondering, what is the lowest temperature that a chrysalis can withstand? I plan to plant a milkweed/butterfly garden next year and am stratifying the seeds now so I wont be needing most of my seeds. I am not a seed vendor, but if you want more info about creating a pollinator field, please click the link with more info in this post: Creating a field for Pollinators (scroll down to find the link). Hi Doris, I checked with the good people at Monarch Joint Venture to verify that OE is not spread by milkweed seeds and this was their reply: “A seed is unlikely to have any dormant spores on it (because the seed would have to come in contact with an infected adult) and if it by chance did have spores on it, it’s very unlikely that the foliage of the plant would retain those spores as it germinates.”. After shaking vigorously, cut a small hole in the corner of the bag and the seeds should start pouring out. What about my asclepias Bloodflower which also still have green pods? I live in southwest Louisiana. Hi Tony, In Missouri–I cut quite a few green milkweed pods still on the stems from along our county road ditch yesterday. Once the floss fluffs out like the one in the lower left, it is harder to remove from the seed. It is fall and we have harvested the seeds. that will use the insides of the stalks for homes. I’ve tried growing seeds outdoors twice, but have had no luck. One was still flying around this week. Hi Priam, I don’t cut off pods until I can see the seams beginning to open. Some of my abundant seeds would find their way there without help, but this should speed up the process a bit. Thanks! I’d say with 100 new plants, you’re on the right track…However, if you’re in a region with a true winter, you might try fall planting seeds too. In other words, no new seeding is needed, right? I hear it takes a very long time for a small plant to grow enough to start producing flowers and pods? If you source more seeds/plants to plant this fall or next season, hopefully you’ll be able to collect some next season. 4. These can take a while to germinate, so feel free to start them quite early in the spring season or even in late winter indoors or in a greenhouse with a heat mat. Hope this helps: Milkweed Ideas for North American Gardens. Peel open the bag to let the filaments fly away, pick out the pebbles, and you’ll be left with the seeds. Thank you all for your monarch rescue missions. Then, cut a small hole in a bottom corner of the bag and shake out the seeds. I did not cut my milkweed back last fall so my original plants are very leggy-i will do that this year. Same advice for tropical milkweed. even a few makes a difference. In live in Tampa Florida and our weather is only barely hinting of possible fall – temps still in mid 80s. i was told no deeper than a pencil eraser but alas no luck. You’ll also want to clearly mark them so they don’t get thrown out, or used to spice up a Thanksgiving side dish! I’ve successfully planted seeds that were 4-5 years old, but I replace them with fresh seeds after that, if needed. It’s a butterfly haven now. Living in southern California I figured I have Monarchs all over the place. If you don’t have any more seeds to harvest in your garden, perhaps you could try a local park or ask a neighbor. Can I still plant them? and poof all the seeds fall off! Hi Jeanette…cut and sundried for what? Could I put them in the fridge and then start them in containers next spring or should I toss the pods and try it again next fall? I imagine they would thrive in-ground vs in pots? Thank you for all the help! I was under the impression that next spring the plants will produce more seed and thicken the area more. I appreciate you and all you do! It may not freeze here until mid to late Dec. Hi Lee, if you want the seeds for planting, I would cut back the plants after you harvest them…, The tropical milk weed is very bad it Carries OE and will as the sliky gold. 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