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how to harvest milk weed seeds from pods

If you have a supply from you yard, then great! Otherwise you can generally find milkweed plants just driving around and looking in roadside ditches, or public parks. Some examples of milkweed plants and their pod shapes are shown below.

Over the years I’ve germinated hundreds of plants, and my process is the simplest and most effective. It is a step by step guide, click below to check it out!

1 – Obtain Milkweed Pods

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The population of the Monarch Butterfly has been declining for years. The best way to help them is to increase the number of milkweed plants. Propagating them in your garden is one great way to give them a stop over place to get nectar and lay eggs. The milkweeds native to North America are the primary hosts for Monarch Caterpillars. They lay their eggs exclusively on milkweed (Asclepias). The best way to help these species is to plant milkweed, plant milkweed, and plant more milkweed!

The feathers will come out, although it may take several tries to remove them all. You will know that you have them all when the core of the feathers comes out. The collage below summarizes the process quite well. Click on it to get a larger view!

Let them dry for a week or so in a cool, dry location. Store them in an envelope at 40 degrees F or in the refrigerator to stratify until you are ready to plant in spring.

Step 4: Separate seeds from milkweed floss

Milkweed seeds need to be stratified to help them germinate. Stratification is when a seed is moistened, chilled or frozen and thawed, breaking down germination inhibitors on the seed coat, such as waxes, hormones, oils or heavy coats. Milkweed seed planted in fall is naturally stratified. Spring-planted seeds need to be chilled in the refrigerator, which replicates the natural process of snow and cold breaking down the seed casing.

Spring seed planting

When you are ready to harvest seeds, pry open the dried pods at the split seam before the fluffy floss escapes.

Step 4: Separate seeds from milkweed floss

Step 2: Open milkweed seed pod

Pick pods as they turn brown, dry and mature. The brown dried pod in the upper left is just beginning to split open — perfect to harvest the seed.