Starting milkweed seeds indoors is a great way to ensure you will have milkweed plants ready for them when they arrive.
Stephen W. Cooper
12/13/2018 11:47:54 pm
Most of my Milkweed has been Common Milkweed. Put it in refrigerator dry, and did nothing else. Will try wet next time. Does it make any difference what temp it is held at ? currently have some in freezer.
2/10/2019 12:09:10 pm
5/13/2021 06:32:10 pm
If normally the seeds fall and overwinter in zones 3-5 where it was 25 degrees below 0 last winter, how is it possible they need to be kept 33-38 degrees to for just a month or two germinate? There are no Midwest winters with those weather conditions.
8/17/2021 03:48:37 pm
I heard from a Park Ranger that you should only plant milkweed indigenous to your area. And he specifically said that people are planting tropical milkweed because it's prettier, but it confuses the butterflies. They think they are much farther south and they stay in the area too long and freeze to death. Just passing on information, not judging. I never would have known and totally would've planted the more attractive plant!!
1/11/2022 03:47:10 pm
I plant about 6 or 7 varieties of milkweed and have found that monarchs in the fall are drawn more to the Tropical Milkweed over everything else. I've heard people say that if the tropical variety is left to stand that more OE can accumulate on it and it can be detrimental to Monarchs. In Oklahoma it dies back to the ground and I just pull up the old plants after I harvest the viable seed pods. This past year I tried to feed Butterfly Weed to my cats and they didn't want it so I went back to the Tropical. The flowers look like they hold up better and so does the foliage so perhaps that's why Monarchs prefer it. I'm not really sure. I haven't had any problem with Monarchs being confused and not knowing when to migrate -- I doubt that has any effect on them. I think the main thing is to provide a variety of milkweed so the butterflies have want they want and need during all times of the year.
2/16/2019 02:30:07 pm
I have stratified with the refrigerator method about 1,000 seeds, but I collected so many last fall I still have another 10,000 (i don't know the real number, but it's a big bag). Can I just put the seeds out on the snow in February?
10/27/2019 12:21:11 pm
Recently I wrote to someone regarding extra Common Milkweed seed pods I have. What I do is to save the seeds in the fall just as the pods begin to open. There are many more than I can use so if anybody wants some, let me know directly or on CHAT. I do not charge for doing this and all I need is the mailing address of those that would like some.
3/27/2020 03:37:55 pm
If you still have extra I would love some. Have a patch of yard I’d like to make a butterfly garden.
8/31/2020 01:19:34 pm
I love to plant more Milkweed of different types. Do you still have some seeds ? Would it be possible to send me some? I really would appreciate it so much.
2/27/2021 10:01:04 am
Would you send me some seed please and thank you:
6/1/2020 06:52:58 am
Hi all! If any one has any extra Milkweeds seeds could you please send to me, I’d appreciate it!
5/30/2022 10:35:20 am
It’s really important that you plant native milkweed to your specific area. So in Florida it would not be a good idea to plant milkweed that is native to Wisconsin or something like that. It’s best to do a search to see what milkweed is native to your specific area.
3/1/2021 07:22:02 pm
Do you have any leftover seeds for a Scout project? We are in Silver Spring
2/18/2019 08:06:24 pm
Great website and great tips on cold stratification for asclepias!! I am giving stratification my first try this week. After I cold stratify can I just plant them outside after average last killing frost? Or will the birds get them? Are indoor pots safer to sprout them then transplant? I have 8 weeks until avg last killing frost here in NW Arkansas. Thanks !!
4/4/2020 10:31:41 am
4/15/2019 05:08:47 am
Does putting dry seeds in the freezer for a week or so help at all?
3/13/2020 05:00:20 pm
Hi. If you plan to plant an acre or two you should get ahold of Dick Seng. The gentleman 2 posts above yours. He says that anyone that wants free seed pods full of seeds to get ahold of him and he will mail some to you.
4/4/2020 10:35:39 am
11/14/2019 02:17:27 pm
I grew up in MN with the monarchs, but now live in desert AZ. Do monarchs fly thru here on their migration? I have never seen any. (Surprised to see a robin once🙂.) Someone sent me some wild milkweed seeds and I will try growing them. I will try the tropical ones if they don't survive here. Wish me luck.
1/31/2021 08:53:04 am
12/28/2019 04:26:11 pm
Update, saw a beat-up monarch in my garden over the fall. Poor thing. Bought some showy tropical milkweed seeds to plant in the spring. Also native varieties. Will be prepared next time one passes thru.
4/4/2020 10:37:05 am
2/9/2020 03:09:42 pm
3/20/2020 02:11:09 pm
I put a bunch of swamp milkweed seeds in a ziplock bag without a wet towel and stuck in my fridge probably 3-4 months ago. Obviously, not what I should have done, according to what I'm reading now. Do you think they are salvageable?
3/20/2020 03:49:49 pm
I did the same as you, and then planted them and mine are sprouting nicely.
3/23/2020 04:13:55 pm
They will be fine. As long as they've been in the fridge for 6-8 weeks, we've noticed that by keeping them in a zip lock bag with some wet sand for a week or two before planting them they'll germinate even faster.
4/15/2020 09:24:28 am
I have had both showy milkweed and tuberosa seeds in fridge for just about a month, but they havent done anything save for some of the tuberosa seeds splitting apart..are they supposed to sprout before planting? If not, is it ok to just put them in pots and under grow light before last frost then plant in containers outside? (I'm in an apartment so cant put in ground.)
4/15/2020 02:37:00 pm
Go ahead and start them indoor under the light. keep in mind that the best way to grow milkweed with no effort is by fall-winter sowing:
4/18/2020 10:19:32 am
4/24/2020 12:44:42 am
Hello, I just pulled out a bag of milkweed pods (uncertain of the type) my son and I collected in Bethesda, MD last fall. It's now the end of April. Is it too late to cold stratify and plant the seeds? Also, we have a lot of seeds. Can we sow directly into the soil now and/or plant in seed trays without cold stratifying? This is our first time collecting milkweed pods to plant-- next year we'll know to cold stratify. Thank you!
4/24/2020 05:06:41 am
Go ahead and cold stratify them, you're still in time to plant this year.
5/21/2020 09:16:13 am
Sure fire way to sprout seeds indoors is to clip off the point of each seed with a nail clipper( yes, tedious).
6/6/2020 10:18:18 am
I am in Delaware and it’s early June. I just got seeds but if a stratify them it will be July. Is it too hot in July to plant the seeds? Should I just wait a couple months? This is new to me.
6/6/2020 05:54:10 pm
Try this Alan and good luck! :-)
7/1/2020 09:46:50 am
I would like to contact Dick Seng to get seed pods. How do I find him? I am very much interested in planting as much milkweed as possible in my area. Thank you kindly
8/3/2020 12:32:11 pm
Yes, I too would like to get the contact information for Dick Seng
8/31/2020 05:53:09 pm
I've received a milkweed seeds request from Helga Cotton but I don't see her post here. In any case I do have Common, swamp and tropical milkweed seeds all year around cold stratified and ready to be planted anytime. ( Tropical doesn't need stratification )
10/7/2020 06:57:20 pm
About how long does it take for sprouted seeds to be ready to transition to the garden?
10/8/2020 09:11:55 am
I usually wait for the plant to be at least 5-6 inches tall. ( Providing the weather is warm)
1/31/2021 08:55:44 am
It takes at least a month for them to be large enough to be transplanted. I also recommend a "hardening off" period (gradually transitioning them outdoors) before you put them in the ground. Best of luck!
10/14/2020 08:34:24 am
Do I use the same stratification & planting for Asclepias Purpurascens seed as the other MW?
1/31/2021 08:56:39 am
Yes, you can use the same methods with Asclepias purpurascens .Thanks!
11/3/2020 10:29:09 am
I live in San Antonio, TX and just received butterfly weed seeds from a friend. Is it ok to plant them right now and put in pots so the plants can be portable during cold weather days?
1/31/2021 08:59:42 am
Yes,I'm not sure I understand your question. You can cold stratify them naturally by putting them in soil and leaving them outdoors during the winter. I have found the the cold/wet stratification period works very well because in the winter, they are usually under a blanket of snow that keeps their seed coats moist.
2/15/2021 03:59:09 pm
Hello, any tips on planting outside when they've sprouted?
2/15/2021 05:00:25 pm
3/1/2021 07:19:03 pm
A Scout has designed a 20x20 milk weed garden for ‘special needs adults’. She wants to sow them directly Into the prepared ground but needs some seed to stratify them with haste
3/6/2021 02:32:24 pm
If you want them by mail follow this page for more details:
3/6/2021 12:39:12 pm
Hi! Thank you for this article. What kind of soil should I use to start the seeds indoors, please? Is regular potting soil OK?
3/9/2021 04:12:02 pm
Always use good top soil to germinate milkweed seeds. :-)
4/5/2021 05:50:04 pm
Thank you, Leo!
3/9/2021 06:25:03 am
This is my first attempt at growing milkweeds. I bought several varieties of milkweed seeds and have the seeds in the fridge following your stratification directions. I have seeds left over. Can I hold these over for next year? Can I put them in the freezer like I do with veggie seeds? Thanks.
3/9/2021 04:09:59 pm
I've had mine in wet sand in the fridge ( not freezer) for 4 years and they germinate like crazy when plant it. :-)
3/30/2022 07:53:51 am
I started growing milkweed 4 seasons ago. I keep all my seeds, several types, that I don’t plant in the freezer. Most of my seeds germinate. I put some seeds in clear plastic containers and put out side and I start some indoors both wet & dry cold stratification. Best to sow seeds in fall, Mother Nature been doing it that way for a long time.
4/5/2021 04:44:22 pm
It's the start of April in Massachusetts and I have just collected a ton of common milkweed seeds that overwintered in fields. Should I just put them in the ground where I want them or germinate them first then put them in the ground. I assume the winter has already stratified them. Thanks.
4/5/2021 06:10:39 pm
You can do it both ways, most of us prefer the germination in outdoor small pots and transplant when they are 5-6" high.
Kristin M Williams
7/31/2021 09:20:39 am
I hope this thread is still active.
7/31/2021 05:56:03 pm
Kristin, You did good with your tuberosa, my advice would be to put them into one or two gallon pots right away for more growth during August. By late fall cut the plants to the ground and keep them into the pots, in order to survive our freezing-thaw cycle of our winter you need to keep them repaired from the elements always outdoor in the cold like a shed, covered patio etc... ( make sure you water them once in awhile) Next spring summer you'll have some nice two years old plants. They are late coming up in the spring, to speed up the process bring some plants in the garage by early March. :-)
8/21/2021 02:23:42 am
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9/11/2021 09:10:05 am
I purchased Common Milkweed seeds Native to N.H. Very excited to do more to help the Monarch butterfly’s. The instructions are not clear enough. States full sun, Stratify for a minimum of 4 weeks in refrigerator, which I understand how to do with dampened paper towels, what I’m unclear on is when to plant the seeds? A month from now after stratifying? In the spring once frost danger is over? Or when do I plant sprouted seedlings in New Hampshire?
9/11/2021 06:11:47 pm
Jennifer, I do have a page that has all that info:
11/13/2021 12:03:05 am
Definitely need a lot of patience for this one since you need to wait for at least 30 days but it's all worth it. I have to agree when you said that you put them in a container for it to avoid being damaged. Great tip! Thank you for sharing!
3/5/2022 09:59:47 am
Thank you so much for this clear description.
Sharon k. Ettinger
4/17/2022 06:02:55 am
I love to sit and watch them. They are absolutely beautiful.
5/31/2022 02:51:48 am
I live in the very NE corner of Georgia and would love some Common Milkweed seeds from anyone who has extra from last fall. I did bring many seed pods back from Western PA and they were full of seeds. Gave many to neighbors and for mine, I simply lightly sowed them into the ground in January (as they would in nature). Many came up!!! They were just baby seedlings, about 1/2 high, then they were gone!!! Not sure if bugs, caterpillars or rabbits got to them. I protected them from rabbits by covering with a hard yard cloth (1/4" screen) , but one day, they were no longer. I will try to plant in pots indoors first and then transplant after last frost. So, if Dick Sent (one of the commenters) has any extras, I'd love to have some. Thanks.
8/6/2022 09:59:02 pm
I just started making my garden a place for hummingbirds and our monarchs. I live in the Santa Cruz Mountains and am aware of the need for milkweed for our butterflys. I purchased a mature milkweed and now working on the seeds and how to grow my own plants. It's August.Any suggestions are welcomed regarding the seeds. They are from Home Depot Asclepias Fascicularius. It looks as though I should put the seeds in the fridge for 30 days? The weather here has been in the low 80s If you have a suggestion for this Newby please feel free to comment. I thought that Monarchs were mainly here in California and I'm glad to here they live in many places and have many folks working to help them. Thanks to all who help them.
9/5/2022 12:48:52 pm
So totally new to this and had some seeds given to me. What do you do with them during the months leading up to putting them in the fridge?
11/7/2022 06:43:35 am
I’ve been cultivating a butterfly garden for a few years (in upstate NY) and it’s finally at a point where butterflies have a good variety of plants. A couple of years ago I added native milkweeds and the squirrels eat the leaves and all that remain are stalks. I have a bunch of seed pods I got from a friend and I haven’t decided whether to cold stratify them inside or in the garden but so really don’t want to put all that effort into feeding the squirrels. Do you know of any ways to deter them?
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