Milkweed Plants

Asked January 2, 2018, 11:08 AM EST

Hello, there is a milkweed plant that grows by the back fence on our property. Late last fall I noticed there was part of a open pod with some seeds that had not scattered on its own. I picked it off and put it in a sack. Can I start milkweed plants indoors this winter from these seeds? Thank you for your assistance. Shelly Wacker

Iowa County Iowa

1 Response

Milkweed seeds can be sown directly outdoors in late fall or started indoors.

When sowing seeds outdoors, work up the soil in a protected location in early to mid-November. Scatter the seeds over the prepared seedbed and then cover the seeds with approximately one-fourth inch of soil. The cold, moist conditions over winter improve seed germination. Seedlings should emerge in spring. Carefully transplant the seedlings to their permanent locations when the seedlings are three to four inches tall.

To start seeds indoors, fill a flat with a commercial germination medium (such as Jiffy Mix). Moisten the medium. Scatter the seeds over the surface of the germination medium and lightly press the seeds into the material. Cover the seeds with an additional one-fourth inch of the germination mix. Carefully moisten the additional material. Slide the flat into a plastic bag and place the bagged flat in the refrigerator. Leave the flat in the refrigerator for four to six weeks. After that, remove the flat from the refrigerator and place it in an area with a temperature of 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Seeds should begin to germinate in three to four weeks.

If no seedlings appear after four weeks, place the flat back in the refrigerator for another four to six weeks and repeat the process.

Take the flat out of the plastic bag as soon as seedlings appear and place the flat under fluorescent lights in a 60 to 65 degree Fahrenheit location. Transplant the seedlings into individual pots when the seedlings are one to two inches tall. Continue to grow the seedlings indoors under fluorescent lights for several more weeks. Prior to planting outdoors, place the seedlings outdoors in a shady, protected location and then gradually expose the seedlings to longer periods of direct sun. Plant the seedlings in their permanent locations after they have hardened outdoors for seven to 10 days.