The Magic of Milkweed Seeds!
Collecting and spreading milkweed seed is a terrific way to help support this very important, and beautiful plant.
The Monarch Butterfly depends on Milkweed for its survival and many other pollinators are attracted to the vibrant flowers. Here are a few tips for successful seed collection, storage, and propagation of our top 3 rain garden Milkweed varieties
Timing! Make sure seeds are mature before harvesting. Seed pods will often darken to a deep brown or mahogany color. Mature pods may have already popped open, could be straining to open, or can be easily split open with a soft squeeze. The seeds inside will be a rich brown. Green pods that are sealed or seeds that are white or tan are not ripe and not ready.
Harvest the entire pod from the plant with seeds intact for easier management. Make sure there are no flies, beetles, or other seed-eating pests on your collected pods. Seeds and pods can be gathered and stored in a paper bag or cardboard box temporarily. You can put a rubber band around the pod to keep the seeds inside.
Dry your pods in an open area or in paper bags that provide air circulation. The key is cool, dry, and dark.
Fluff Control: To remove the fluff you can put the loose seeds into a paper bag, jar, or can with a lid. Shake vigorously to separate the seeds from the fluff. Or pull the whole wad of fluff and seeds out once they are completely dry. Separate the fluff by running your fingers down the seam or rake your finger along the seed follicle, going with the grain of seeds to separate the fluff.
Store dry seeds without their fluff in a cool, dry, dark place. Never store in plastic as milkweed seeds can mold easily.
Cold Stratification: Milkweed requires 3-6 weeks of cold stratification to germinate. That means seeds need to be exposed to both cold and moist conditions, like being outside for the winter. Seeds can also be direct sowed, scarified, and burned.
Planting: Once they are ready, seeds can be spread outdoors in the fall or stored over winter to be grown in seed trays for spring planting.