Got Milkweed? How to Harvest Milkweed Seeds
By now, you’ve probably heard that milkweed planting is a thing – since the David Suzuki Foundation’s Got Milkweed campaign has been encouraging people to plant it and help improve the monarch butterfly population. Well, did you know that fall is the best time to plant milkweed seeds.
Milkweed seeds sowed just before the ground freezes in late fall — after it gets cool enough to ensure they won’t germinate — have higher germination rates than those planted during the rest of the year.~ David Suzuki Foundation
I have 3 milkweed plants in my garden, and now I have a whole bunch of plants with pods on them, so I looked up how to harvest milkweed seeds!
My plants have had milkweed pods on them for awhile, but they haven’t looked ready to pluck until now. The site I was looking at stated that you don’t want to pick the pods before they’re ready.
After giving the pod a little bend, it may split open a bit on its own, which I have now learned usually means it’s ready to go! However, if you split open the pod and you see white seeds and not fuzzy stuff and brown seeds, it’s not ready. The pod below isn’t ready for harvesting. (You might also get some milky sap on your fingers from these un-ripe pods, which you should be careful with because it’s irritating to your eyes.)
When the pod splits easily and you see some pretty brown seeds, you can pick the pod off to harvest!
It’s easiest to open the pod completely and pop out the center part with all the seeds on it. If you don’t disturb the white stringy fluffy part in the middle of all the seeds, it’s easy to pick the seeds off without making too much of a fluffy mess.
I read that you should plant the seeds now because they do well over the winter. If you want to save them for planting in the spring, putting them in the fridge helps to simulate winter and get them ready for successful planting in the spring. If you want to save them for longer, keep the seeds in an airtight bag or container in a cool dark place.
Are you going to plant some milkweed this fall?
(Disclosure: No compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.)
Yes my kindergarten class found some milk weed pods today. We will plant them soon. Thanks for the info.
I’m a retired landscaper/nurseryman that has a number of milkweed plants that I saved seed from for several years and did nothing with them. I’m a middleman for supplying some farmers with wild flowers for crp programs. One nurseryman said the seed had to go through a cold period before germination. I sowed some Purple coneflower that I had that were several years old and some grew, but not a good percentage. I have the same for milkweed seeds I will try this February, also some new Milkweed, Cone flower and Rudbeckia and Oxeye Sunflower ( I think) that I will put in a shed to go through a cold period for this spring. Everything I do is kind of an experiment to get more serious for raising wildflowers to sell and for myself.
That’s great!! Yes, I definitely planted my milkweed seeds and other native wildflower seeds in the late fall so that they would have the winter and then pop up in the spring (hopefully!).