You can store the seed in envelopes, paper bags, or even plastic bags if the seed was fully dry. A good portion of the seed will be viable for several years after harvest. Alternatively, you can plant the seed directly into the garden if you like. That is a low maintenance method for saving milkweed seeds.
The pods shown in the picture above are definitely ripe. But you would probably release a lot of feathers if you tried to harvest these, as they have opened up quite a bit on their own. You could do it, but would just need to be very careful.
Just clip the base of the pod off the plant and place into a paper bag. This way you can get plenty of pods on your trip. If you are just getting seed to propagate a few plants for your yard, then you probably only need a few pods. Otherwise, use a paper bag to hold as many seeds as you can get.
5 – Harvest the seed
Then, firmly grip the base just above the seed. I do it so that the bottom edge of my fingers is in contact with the seed. With your other hand, gently peel the pod like a banana until it reaches your fingers. Next, firmly grip the feathers and pull.
You can place a small rubber band around it to hold it together until you get them home. If you harvest pods before this time, then the seed may not be fully formed yet. If that is the case it is best to wait a few days to a week and come back to try again.
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!
So now that you have harvested a crop of seed, you will need to germinate them! We’ve written a detailed guide on how to germinate and grow milkweed seeds.
Share your tips for how to harvest butterfly weed seeds in the comments section below.
I like to use a plastic shoe box to organize my seeds, or you can use a Seed Keeper.
How To Harvest Butterfly Weed Seeds Step-By-Step
Thank you for the information on how to harvest butterfly weed seeds! Have a beautiful orange plant and want more!
Dot Zimmerman says
I just planted a monarch butterfly garden this spring and my butterfly weed turned out great! I noticed the seed pods and luckily found this website. The pods on one of the plants turned brown and I noticed one had started to crack open on the side. I assumed this meant it was ready for the seeds to be harvested. However, when I split open the pod what appeared to be the seed pods were white and there was no white fuzziness on the inside …. I’m worried I picked them too soon! Is there anything I can do to help them become healthy seeds?