Milkweed germination

garystpaul(4)October 23, 2013

Hi, folks

I've been collecting seeds pods of what I presume to be asclepias syriacus or common milkweed. One of my sources is a large planting around one of the buildings at the University of Minnesota. My question is, would I be better off scattering the seed in various places in my garden now, or saving the seed to germinate on a gentle heating mat under lights in late winter or early spring (after which I can grow them on in the greenhouse)? Any tips on germinating these seeds?


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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

You'll get better results (at least so far as indoor planting is concerned) if you stratify the seeds. I get near 100% germination rates with that method. I never use heating mats (but don't let my house get really cold in winter).

Probably the simplest way to stratify is using damp (not wet) paper towels sprinkled with cinnamon (to reduce mold/fungi growth). I wrap the seeds in a small piece of the treated paper towel, place that in a plastic sandwich bag, and then place that in the refrigerator. I check the seeds every few weeks to ensure that the paper towel stays slightly moist and to be sure mold isn't getting a foothold. Fine white silica sand would also work well as a stratification medium, and might have less mold problems (but the paper towels work for me).

Winter sowing outdoors eliminates the need for stratification, but probably will have slightly lower germination rates, and, will produce plants that cannot be given away or planted somewhere new as easily as the ones grown in pots indoors.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 8:12PM
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mstywoods(z5, Westminster, CO)

Hi - glad to see this forum finally got created!

I picked some Showy Milkweed pods this fall, and I decided just to plant them in the ground now and let them winter sow - I'm in zone 5, so this they should do fine, as this is where they were picked. I planted them in a few specific spots, so I'll know if they come up. Hoping so!

Westminster, CO

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 6:40PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I love the wintersowing method, and it's easy to transfer small seedlings to individual pots, if you want to distribute them to others. I don't have space indoors to germinate many plants, but have almost limitless space outdoors. I've also heard too many sad stories of damping off indoors or seedling demise during the hardening off stage. But, indoor growing obviously works well for many. Good luck.


    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 9:17AM
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Thanks for the tips. I have a pack of seeds now and will get them going this weekend.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 6:06PM
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