Butterfly weed and milkweed seed pods may be harvested and planted to support Monarch butterfly caterpillars. Butterfly weed grows well from seeds, which must be harvested in late summer and either sown immediately in the garden, or started in spring after a lengthy chilling process. The seeds are viable and will germinate with little care, although they must be planted at the appropriate depth to ensure successful sprouting.
Gather the butterfly weed seeds in late summer or autumn, once the pods dry to a light, rosy-beige color, but before they split open. Put on rubber gloves before handling the pods to protect your hands from the mildly toxic sap.
Make a 1/4-inch-deep planting hole in the center of compost mixture. Drop one butterfly weed seed in the planting hole. Cover it with a loose layer of compost. Mist the compost to settle it.
Arrange the starter pots on a propagation mat near a source of bright, indirect light such as near a partly shaded south-facing window. Set the temperature on the propagation mat to 86 F during the day. Turn it off at night.
Place the butterfly weed seeds in a plastic bag filled with 1 cup of moistened perlite. Store the bag inside the refrigerator for three months. Mist the perlite with water every few days to keep it from drying out completely.
Amanda Hemmer says
Thank you for the information on how to harvest butterfly weed seeds! Have a beautiful orange plant and want more!
Amy Andrychowicz says
About Amy Andrychowicz
Gently pinch the seeds to tease them away from the fluffy stuff. It can be a messy job, so you might want to keep the vacuum on hand.
Otherwise you can always buy butterfly weed seeds online. Here are some great, quality seeds to get you started… Butterfly Weed Seeds.
It can be difficult to find butterfly weed seeds for sale, but many garden centers should carry them starting in mid-winter through early spring.
Collecting butterfly weed seed pods in a container
Height: 24 Inches
Sowing: In late fall, direct sow butterfly milkweed seeds just below the surface. Germination will take place in the spring, after the last frost. When the seedlings appear, thin to the strongest plant; seedlings usually do not survive transplanting, since they resent any disturbance of their roots. For spring planting, mix the seeds with moist sand and refrigerate for 30 days before direct sowing.
HOW TO GROW
Seed Saving: After the plant finishes flowering, 3-4″ narrow pods will form. Be sure to harvest butterfly milkweed pods before they split and the silky fluff carries the seeds away on the wind. As soon as the seeds inside the pod ripen to their mature brown color, remove the pods and spread them out to dry. Split open the pods and take out the silky seed material. Remove the fluff from the seeds. Store the seeds in a cool, dry place.
I received my seed very quickly and the packets came with detailed instructions/resources on how to start your seedling, milkweed being a little different than most.
US Regions: Arid/Desert, Plains/Texas, Midwest, Northern, Northeast, Southeast
Fast shipping. The plants have not sprouted yet but it is not the season.