Why plant milkweed? Milkweed are the host plant for Monarch Butterflies: the leaves of milkweed plants are the sole food for monarch caterpillars, and the nectar-rich plants are an essenital food source for adult butterflies. The Monarch Butterfly population has declined a whopping 90% over the past decade due to the loss of meadows and habitat (especially in the Midwest). Plant milkweed in your gardens to help support these amazing North American butterflies!
Follow our instructions for starting milkweed from seed, including Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), and Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata). We have found these techniques best for good growing results.
Getting Started: Understanding Milkweed Seed & Germination
Milkweed seeds require cold stratification.
In warm zones without winter frost, or if you are starting your seeds in spring, you can cold-stratify seeds in your refridgerator!
What does that mean? In the wild, milkweed plants scatter their seeds quite late in the season, at a time when the coming cold would kill any seedlings that germinated right away. However, the seeds of milkweeds (and other late-season flower plants) are cleverly programmed to delay germination until after they’ve been exposed to winter’s cold, followed by gradually rising temperatures in springtime. This adaptation is known as stratification. Cold stratification helps to break the seeds’ natural dormancy cycle. Exposure to winter temperatures help soften or crack the seeds’ hard outer casings.
Albuquerque, Santa Fe
Asclepias incarnate & others
Boyce Thompson Arboretum
Asclepias fascicularis, A. speciosa
Asclepias angustifolia, A. linaria and A. subulata
Tucson: (520) 721-8600
(Planning Asclepias tuberosa, A. cordifolia in the future)