If you are planting seed outside, we suggest seeding in late fall, and let the Milkweed seed lay on the ground through winter. Milkweed seed will have a long winter of dormancy, so once the sun comes out and the ground warms in the spring, the seeds will germinate on their own.
Native Range for Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed) – AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WI, WV.
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Transplanting Milkweed (Asclepias) Seedling Outdoors
Planting In Spring: Once the 30 days are complete, it’s time to plant the cold stratified Milkweed (asclepias) seeds. We recommend planting in 2-4” peat pots. Fill peat pots ¾ of the way with seed starting potting soil and gently add water. Water should be able to drain through the peat pots. Once the soil is damp, place 1-2 cold stratified seeds into each pot. To finish, place 1/4 inch of soil on top of the seed.
Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is one of our great North American native flowers with rich Indian and medicinal history. The brilliant orange blooms light up meadows dramatically, and of course, visits by butterflies are a bonus. This wildflower, also prized as a garden perennial, is not easy to grow, but once established, is a tough, dependable colormaker.
Watering: Gently water the planted seed to give additional hydration. The best way to water is from the bottom up. Use a flat pan under the peat pots and add a half inch of water to the bottom of the tray. Don’t over water as it can cause fungus. Water every day or every other day as needed, the best way to test the soil dampness is to touch it. If the soil seems dry then add water; if it’s wet, wait for the soil to dry out to water.
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Asclepias tuberosa Germination Information
Situate this perennial in borders and wildflower gardens to enjoy its colorful floral display and to attract bees and butterflies to the garden. The plant grows 3 feet tall by 12 inches wide and boasts flat, 1-2 inch diameter clusters of orange, orange-red, or yellow flowers. These fragrant flowers appear in July and August. The stems ooze a milky sap when broken. Slender, hairy, 4-5 inch long leaves line the stem
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As its name suggest, this plant grows as effortlessly as a weed—just direct sow the seeds in fall or early spring and wait for the show. (It will bloom in late summer the first year from a spring sowing, then get onto its regular early summer-til-frost schedule for all subsequent years.) The flowers are bright orange, held upright in flattish clusters 3 to 4 inches wide. Filled with nectar, they are manna to butterflies and other pollinators.
Grow Butterfly Weed: All of our perennial butterfly weeds attract bees and hummingbirds, are important nectar sources for a wide range of butterflies, most notably the Monarch. To promote Monarch butterfly caterpillars, Asclepias incarnata is the host most preferred. Plants are deer and rabbit resistant. Learn more about monarch butterflies and butterfly weed.
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Plant Butterfly Weed Seeds: Full sun. Asclepias incarnata (Milkmaid and Soulmate) thrive in moist, even wet soils, will adapt to average garden water. Asclepias tuberosa (Orange and Gay Butterflies) tolerate heat and drought, need only occasional water once established, will happily accept average moisture with good drainage.
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