Desert Milkweed Seeds

mingtea(z9 Tucson)October 23, 2005

hi all,

i have some seeds of Asclepias subulata that i'd like to grow. they were harvested this weekend and i've been looking online for some growing tips to no avail.

should these be soaked first? should they be planted directly in the ground or in a pot first? is this the right time of year to do so? i'd like to put them in the afternoon sun part of my garden to attract butterflies and bugs.

thanks for any tips,


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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Hi Ming and all,

I love desert milkweeds--they're one of my favorites. I've started dozens of them from seeds and they're very gratifying. I don't do anything special with them at all. I just plant them (barely covered in soil) in moist potting soil and water them when they're just starting to get dry, and I keep the pot outside in partial sun. They sprout within a week or two and grow quite nicely. I've planted fresh seed and seed that I've stored dry for many months and they always sprout within a couple of weeks.

Let us know when you plant yours and how they do.
Take care,

    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 6:09PM
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Ok, Grant. Since you have been so successful with these hopefully you can tell me what I am doing wrong. For the first year mine looked like six green pencils sticking out of the ground. It is now up to about 18 green pencils sticking out of the ground.

I thought I was going to get some leaves or flowers this year but either they fell off or something ate them. I don't mind if something ate them because I'm growing them for the butterflies but I'm worried it never flowers because it is unhappy.

There are bunches of them flowering around the 101 and Tatum which is not far from here but so far I haven't been willing to risk my life to gather seeds or look more closely at them. Any ideas? thanks,

    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 9:37PM
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mingtea(z9 Tucson)

okay, sounds pretty easy. i only have about 8 seeds so i soaked 4 of them to start with and have them in little dixie cups. problem is, i'll be going on vacation for a couple weeks, so with luck, my boyfriend will keep the water levels correct.

thanks for the help,

    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 11:54PM
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Pagancat(Phoenix, AZ)

Sam,could it be your exposure?

    Bookmark   October 26, 2005 at 12:31AM
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PC - I don't know. Total, unrelenting, full sun. On top of a small sloping mound. Clay : (

    Bookmark   October 26, 2005 at 9:44AM
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Pagancat(Phoenix, AZ)

Huh... bizarre. Maybe they have to be of a certain age. Strange, huh?

    Bookmark   October 26, 2005 at 5:38PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Ming, good luck with the seeds/seedlings....keep us posted. Sam, like my mature desert milkweeds, my seedlings gain and drop leaves pretty frequently, so I wouldn't worry about it much as long as the plants are alive and growing. I do keep mine in full sun or 3/4 sun so that might help. They are pretty cute and delicate when small but they'll settle in eventually.

Even my larger purchased Asclepias subulata plants often take two years to really settle in and start blooming again. Some have leaves most of the time, and some don't. The ones that do have a lot of leaves tend to get a lot of monarch-looking caterpillars which I welcome of course. Plus aphids (which I ignore except on seedlings) and those large tarantula hawkmoths (why they hang around these plants I don't know, but I see it routinely around the valley).

Keep us posted both of you.
Take care,

    Bookmark   October 28, 2005 at 4:28PM
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hi. If anyone would like to share the Desert Milkweed seeds with me even in a trade, I'd like some.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2008 at 8:02PM
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