The time has come to collect milkweed seeds if you haven't already. You can plant them next year, give them to friends and family, share with your community and/or donate them to your favorite Monarch conservation organization!
Where should I collect? You can collect Milkweed pods on private lands (with permission of course), public right of ways and road sides.
What if I'm not sure how if it's a Milkweed plant? All milkweed species develop a seed pod and they look very similar. Refer to the Milkweed Identification blog if you're not sure how to identify Milkweed.
How much should I collect? 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.
Step 1: Collecting the Milkweed Pods
Timing is key when collecting milkweed seeds. Here are a couple of tricks to ensure that your seeds are mature and viable.
If the pod is brown and has already popped open releasing their silky fluff, also called coma, you know that they are ready and you can harvest them and remove the fluff later.
However, if you want to avoid the fluff and be able to take the seeds off neatly and easily, here is a little trick.
I look for green seed pods and the first thing I do is squeeze the seed pod. If I hear a gentle pop and see that the pod has split at the suture, then I look inside. If the seeds are a nice coffee brown then I know they are mature and I can collect the pod. However, If the seeds are white or tan, I don’t collect them and let them continue to mature on the plant.
Milkweed seeds can mold easily so I like to use a paper bag or cardboard box when I'm out collecting.
Step 2- Removing the Seeds from the Husk
This is a fun and relaxing activity. So, I’ve already collected my light green seed pods that have row after row of beautiful tightly packed seeds. I let them sit for about 2 weeks so they are dry and easy to remove (you do not have to let them dry this long). I open the pod at the suture and grab the narrow end of the pod then gently pull until the seed follicle comes out of the husk. Then, I rake my finger nail along the seed follicle, going WITH the grain of the seeds.
To see a video of this process click here.
Step 3- Drying
After you remove the seeds, you’ll want to let them dry out for 3 days to a week. I like to let them dry on cardboard in a well-ventilated area. My porch works well for this.
Step 4- Storage
Once they have dried out, I store them in small manilla envelopes and date them. I do not store them in plastic bags because this will often cause them to mold.
You Can Donate Your Seeds To Save Our Monarchs Foundation
If YOU have seeds to donate from your own plantings, you can:
1) Donate it to Save our Monarchs via postal mail
Save Our Monarchs Foundation
P.O. Box #390135
Minneapolis, MN 55439
2) Scatter the seed in public areas, including city and state parks, schools, lakes, rivers, bike trails, golf courses (with permission).