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growing butterfly weed from seed indoors

Watch for germination in two to three weeks. Turn off the propagation mat one week after the seeds sprout. Move the pots into a cold frame outdoors or against a south-facing wall with noonday shade.

Before you begin to harvest the butterfly weed pods, sterilize your cutting tools. Dip the blades into a full-strength household cleanser, such as Lysol or Pine-Sol. Repeat between cuts to prevent the spread of diseases.

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.

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.

Leave the bucket outdoors for two or three days to let the fluff blow away. Stir the seeds occasionally to loosen more fluff. Do not worry if some of the fluff remains, since it won’t inhibit the germination process.

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.

Water the butterfly weed seeds whenever the compost feels barely damp when pressed. Apply the water by the spoonful or use a spray bottle to keep from dislodging the seeds.

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Asclepias tuberosa grows back quickly after being eaten and you can easily propagate them.

Don’t worry the cold of winter will not harm your seeds.

Butterfly Weed Care

Mark your established butterfly weed in your garden well. The reason? Plants take a while to emerge in the springtime.

There’s no need to wait for plants to establish themselves before reaping the benefits.

Because so many gardeners now recognize how beneficial butterfly weed is to the garden, seeds are very readily available online and in local garden stores.

Because butterfly weed likes poor soil, you needn’t worry much about feeding it.

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Once seeds have germinated, you can thin them out to one per pot. Keep pots watered and under fluorescent lighting or somewhere with a good amount of sunlight. You can run a fan for 15 minutes twice a day to make sure they have good airflow.

How to Grow Butterfly Weed

The straight species Asclepias tuberosa has brilliant orange blooms. However, there are a few cultivars that range from orange to yellow to red.

Fill peat pots with a good quality potting mix. Use potting mix instead of seed starting mix so that plants will have some fertilizer as they grow since you aren’t going to be transplanting them at all. Make sure you get the potting mix wet but not dripping.

A little known fact is that monarch caterpillars feed only on milkweed species. Other plants can provide nectar for the adult butterflies, but without butterfly weed and other varieties of milkweed, the caterpillars can’t survive.