Common Milkweed Seeds
Milkweed (Asclepias Syriaca), also known as butterfly flower, is a perennial herb in North America. It grows up to 1 meter tall. The plant is extremely important to the habitat of butterflies, especially the monarch butterfly, which cannot survive without it.
This vital herb also has some culinary value. Young milkweed shoots can be eaten so long as they have been boiled for at least one minute. Boiling the shoots is necessary as it neutralizes toxins that naturally occur in milkweed.
Milkweed is the sole food source for the monarch caterpillar, and it is the only plant where the monarch butterfly lays its eggs. Since milkweed has generally been treated as an unwanted ‘weed,’ in many places, it’s been removed from its natural environment. This has a detrimental effect on the monarch butterfly population. Planting milkweed in your garden is an easy solution to help build habitats for butterflies and keep them flourishing.
Growing milkweed in our gardens is a significant step to help to restore this herb to its rightful place in our environment.
How to Germinate Milkweed Seeds
The easiest way to germinate milkweed seeds is to plant the seeds in the fall. This is a natural way to cold-treat or stratify the seeds. Another way to stratify the seeds is to place the seeds in a ziplock bag with moistened soil or peat moss and keep it in your refrigerator for 1-3 months. This dark, cold and moist environment will stimulate the germination process.
Once the seeds have been cold treated, you can place them in pots and cover with no more than 1/4 inch of soil; Light helps stimulate the germination process, so put them in a sunny location indoors. Keep the seeds/seedlings moist at all times but never soggy. When the seedlings have at least two sets of leaves and approx, three inches tall, they can be transplanted outside after the last risk of frost. Plant the seedlings 1 foot apart. Although milkweed will grow in most soil types, it prefers acidic soil with a pH of 4.8 to 6.8. A location with full sun is the best, although the plants will also tolerate partial shade.