Harvesting plants with pods

Asked August 20, 2019, 9:18 AM EDT

Hi there,

I'm a new gardener and have a couple of questions about plants with seed pods.

I'm raising a few monarch caterpillars in a butterfly cage and am putting stem cuttings from swamp milkweed into the cage for them to eat. Some of the cuttings have milkweed pods on them so these pods aren't going to be able to ripen on the plant. Can I hang the pods upside down and dry them like other seed-producing flowers or do they need to ripen on the plant in order to be viable? The ones I've cut are green still unfortunately. I don't have a ton of milkweed plants (first year with blossoms) and was hoping to grow more from seeds, but maybe I'll have to rely on rhizomes?

RE: iris versicolor - my iris bloomed this year and also produced pods. I read that removing the pods will allow the plant to conserve more energy for blooming next year. Is this true? Is there any point to letting pods mature on the plant? Can the pods be collected early and dried as above question?

Thanks so much!!

Prince George's County Maryland

1 Response

The milkweed pods have to mature on the plants. Here are a couple of links for harvesting milkweed seed https://xerces.org/2017/09/07/harvesting-milkweed-seed-a-pod-and-a-plan/

Iris versicolor - it is a good practice to "deadhead" plants throughout the growing season. Deadheading is the practice of removing the seedpods as soon as a flower is past its prime. Doing so will cause the plant to expend its energy more productively. Perennials, such as iris, will be able to store more energy in their roots for next year, producing bigger and more flowers next season.

It is up to you if you want to let it go to seed. You can experiment and let it go to seed naturally and see what happens. The new plants grown from the seed will be the same kind of plant, but they will not necessarily have the same characteristics. These differences are determined by genetics, much like a child will not have the same hair color, eye color, height, etc., as his/her parents.