The Monarchs are already starting to migrate North, will you be ready for them? I live in Nebraska where the Monarchs generally migrate through in late April and back through again in September. Unsure when the Monarchs will be coming through your area or state? Check this Map! Most milkweed is a perennial in the lower 48 states so even if you are getting off to a late start, have no fear, they will come back next year and feed the next generations!
I started cold stratifying my Butterfly Milkweed seeds at the beginning of March (click here to learn how to cold stratify your seeds) and about 30 days have now passed. 3-6 weeks is the recommended amount of cold stratification for most Milkweed species (except for Tropical Milkweed). Keep in mind that, cold stratifying your seeds does increase germination rates but is not absolutely necessary. If you feel like you don’t have the time, you can still plant your Milkweed seeds and see which ones germinate! I’ve actually had quite good germination rates even with non-stratified seeds. Let me show you how I plant my Butterfly Milkweed seeds!
Step 1: Gather your materials
Start with a clean seed tray (or baking pan), seed inserts, sterilized seed starting mix, a watering can and your Milkweed (or other native plant) seeds. 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. Keep in mind how many Milkweed plants you have room for in your yard and if you accidentally plant too many, you can always give some to your neighbors!
Step 2: Add soil mixture
I like to pour a heaping amount of soil mix onto the center of my seed insert and then spread it evenly with the edge of my seed packet or anything with a straight edge. I then gently tap the bottom of the seed tray on a flat surface to let the soil mix settle just a bit.
Step 3: Make holes
I like to use the eraser-end of a pencil to get ¼ in holes in my soil. It’s a convenient and consistent way to get uniform sized holes
Step 4: Plant your seeds
Place 2-3 Milkweed seeds in each hole. Placing multiple seeds in each hole will increase your chances of getting a seedling in each cell. Then, gently push the soil mix back over your seeds.
Step 5: Water
Watering from the bottom up is the recommended method because it won’t disturb the seedlings and will also prevent over-watering. Simply pour about ½ inch of water into the tray then place the seed inserts on top. I like to use a water mister to also spray the top layer of my seed tray and then cover with a plastic lid or plastic wrap to keep the seeds moist.
Give your seeds a sunny window or put under a grow light so they have plenty of light and air. If they start to look leggy, you know that they need more light. You can plant your Milkweed outside after the danger of frost has passed. Check here to find out when the last frost date is for your region.
Plant the Milkweed and the Monarchs will come!