Need help with Tropical Milkweed

flutterby64September 13, 2010

For some reason, my tropical milkweed isn't making any seed pods this year. There are lots of Monarchs, Queens and bees on the flowers, but apparently pollination isn't happening. Any thoughts on what is wrong?

Can anyone tell me how to hand pollinate so I can have seeds for next year?

Thanks for any help.

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runmede(7a Virginia)

It doesn't look easy. But, you may be able to do it. The pollinators actually get the pollinia caught on their legs and carry them to another flower where they also get their leg caught and deposit it.

Images of a milkweed flower

Here is a link that might be useful: One page of an article on how to hand pollinate

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 3:31PM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

Interesting info, Runmede. I need to try this next year with my variegata. I will have to do some research for an image of the parts of the aristolochia flower so I'll know what I'm doing when I "operate".

Thanks for sharing.


    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 3:49PM
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Thanks for the links. This does look complicated. I don't think I'm up to the challenge, so I guess I'll just hope my butterflies & bees start doing their job.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 3:52PM
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I had the same problem with my tropical asclepias, but as the plant gets older it starts producing alot more seed pods.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 4:07PM
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terrene(5b MA)

I didn't get any seed pods last year on the A. curassavica, but this year there are 4 little pods forming on the plant that bloomed first. Not sure who pollinated these? The only pollinators I've noticed on the tropical are yellow jackets, and a Monarch that tried to nectar but was chased off by a yellow jacket! (sure they are others though)

However, we don't have that much warm or frost-free weather left, so I don't know if the seeds in these pods will have enough time to ripen.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 5:47PM
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Hi everyone,
here's something that may help. I'm a tropical milkweed newbie but mine have tons of seedpods.

I'm in Minnesota so I started mine inside in march. If I hadn't, they'd probably be 1.5 months behind where they are now.

I followed these directions for starting inside and almost ALL my seeds germinated:

Here is a picture of our tropical milkweed taken on Sep 11, 2010. If you look closely, there are still a lot of pods even though I have removed several to store seed.

Hope this helps, Tony

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 1:51PM
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bob_71(z7 MD)

Seems like it's a little late to me. If all else fails, I'll be happy to share some of these seeds with you.


    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 1:08PM
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My Tropical is not setting seed this year either. Who knows why. I've had years when it is a machine, putting out seed pods from mid summer until frost, and then ones like this, where I don't get any. The Milkweed Leaf Beetles have been at mine all summer long, though. They tend to hide during the day and come out at night. They eat all parts of the milkweed - leaves, buds, flowers, everything. I have destroyed so many this year, including the adults, larvae, and eggs I find, but it's hard to get ahead of them.

I've just decided to chalk it up to a bad year, and I'll be ordering my seeds again.


    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 5:42PM
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I've found the same problem with Swamp Milkweed. Some years it's great - other years not so.

I think it has to do with temperature, but don't have an answer.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 3:22PM
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I am experiencing the same thing...I've only seen one pod on one plant! We still have over 2 months of growing time left so hopefully, they will set more seed. I do have some left from last year but not nearly enough to get the number of plants I have growing now.
Susan, where do you order your seed? I might need it for next year, too!

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 9:13AM
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Finally! Yesterday when I was watering, out of about 75 plants, I saw ONE tiny seed pod starting to develop. Butterflyman, I think you are right about the temperature affecting seed set. It's interesting that now that our area has finally "cooled down" into the 90's, I finally find a pod.

Susan, when you mentioned having so many MW beetles, it made me realize that I haven't seen any this year. It's weird because they are normally "standard equipment" on my MW. What a weird MW year.

Bob, thanks for offering to share seeds with me. If my MW doesn't come through for me, I'll be in touch!

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 11:57AM
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Imabirdnut - I got my Tropical Milkweed seed online from Everwilde Farms at the most reasonable price I could find, 1,250 seeds for $2.50. I thought that was a fantastic bargain, and good viability. They also have a very nice selection of native plant seeds.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 12:45PM
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terrene(5b MA)

I purchased A. curassavica seeds from Everwilde too (as well as other seed, like Zinnia elegans and some natives). They have very generous quantities, reasonable prices, and a lot of native seeds. Their seeds had great germination.

Looks like I have pods forming on several of the tropical plants, but we are already getting cool weather and are only a few weeks from the first frost, so I doubt the pods will mature. Got lots of Everwilde seeds left though, even after sharing them with 2 other gardeners thus far.

Last night I was showing a neighbor a Monarch and BST that eclosed late yesterday afternoon, and were spending the night in the aquarium tank. Think I've convinced her to grow some A. curassavica next year and maybe raise a few butterflies!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 8:15AM
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Susan, thanks for the source for seeds...if I don't get any pods, I'll definitely order seeds!
Terrene, I love getting others interested in raising BFs! I sent cats & crysalids to my neighbor's kids' school...can't start too young! Anyway, she had bought 2 plants from local nurseries that don't use insecticides & there were a few cats on each plant. She & the school have the large Butterfly Pavillion. She kept one for home so their family could enjoy the BFs!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 9:43AM
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