Help sowing butterfly weed seeds

weedpullrSeptember 9, 2010

I have 500 [to be exact] asclepias tuberosa seeds -and have been reading about winter sowing. I don't want these for a garden but as a naturalized "weed" on a farm. In areas that don't get mowed on hillsides etc there are obviously lots of very thick vegetation all ready established. Some grasses and ironweed etc. Does anyone know what the best method or exactly WHEN i should go about sowing these? Central Ohio is experiencing super weather right now -but very dry. Should I take a shovel and make shallow little trenches or use a rake I don't want them to wash downhill into the shade Thanks for any help

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Weedpullr - I think you will have a low success rate if you just stick the seeds in the ground now. It will work, but a lot of your seeds may be eaten over winter before they get a chance to germinate in the spring and the ones that do germinate will be competing with your grasses.

Winter sowing works well with milkweed but you may not want to do that with all 500 seeds. It's just my opinion, but since you have so many seeds, I would winter sow several dozen or whatever you have room for, then divide up the remaining seeds and plant some in the ground in place this fall, and keep some in the frig in moist peat to plant next spring. That way you don't have all your eggs in one bucket. Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 9:19AM
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Id wait till March to spread the seeds if I was you. If its into existing foilage, I dont think you will have too good of luck unless you can make certain you get good seed to ground contact. I know its time consuming, but I would take the time and prepare a small seedbed (5 to 8")for each seed by clearing the thatch and pressing the seed slightly into the ground, coverand then compacting the soil on top by stepping on it. If you dont have the time to do every individual seed, then do as many as you have time to do. That will give you your best chance at germination occuring. Since you idicated you want a random, scattered conceptinto your meadow, this approach will make that happen. Simply sowing the seeds will not spread them out very evenly, Even though you have 500 seeds, that doesnt go very far with a broadcast implementation. Like mentioned above, I dont think I would sow all your seeds at once. Do you have the ability to start a flat or two off the seeds and take care of them. Ultimately, that is your best chance is to get them to a transplantable size and then introduce them to your planting areas as established plants. Here's some inspiration photos of what it sounds like you are trying to accomplish. Enjoy:

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 12:28PM
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You could try growing them indoors or in a protected area but remember that they have a thick taproot and even when seedlings need depth for the root to grow so grow in small deep pots. Did you ever try growing them from root cuttings? It would be faster than seeds. Just keep the polarity correct on the cuttings. Cut the top of the cutting straight across and the bottom at an angle to make sure up is up and down is down. You could start them now and overwinter in a protected area. Slow to emerge in spring so don't give up hope!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 1:28PM
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Along the same lines, I would think that a $100 worth of bare root plants would go further (and faster) than trying to get the seeds to go. That would buy you about 36 bareroot plants from Prairie Moon. Once you have plants, you can cultivate your own seeds.

Mine were very very slow to come out of the ground this year, but we had a long, long winter.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 6:54PM
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dandy_line(3B (Brainerd, Mn))

My own 2 cents worth. Butterfly weed seeds are very easy to germinate in home. Simply put seeds in a ziplock back and soiless mixture(eg peat moss and sand) in the fridge in March next year for 30 days. Take out of the fridge, still in the bag, wait about 1 week and seeds should be germinating. Spread seeds onto flats of soil and cover lightly. Germinate in home until true leaves show then take outside. When large enough take to protected site in the garden and plant. Baby for one entire season. The following year they can be transplanted into the wild. This should gain you about 90% seedlings from your seeds.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 8:38PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Rollie, nice pics! Very lovely shots of wild A. tuberosa.

I will 2nd or 3rd or 4th what everyone else has said. If you broadcast the seed into already existing, dense vegetation I don't think you'll get much for results. It would be difficult for a seed to germinate and grow under those conditions.

A tuberosa is very easy to start from seed, as long as the seeds are viable. 2 years ago, I sowed some in April, and it did not even require much (or any) cold stratification. I would start the seeds next Spring (March-April) in pots, or winter sowing containers, grow them on in small pots for the summer, and then transplant early next fall. If you can mow the wild area first, it would probably help with the transplanting. Also, clearing a little planting spot as Rollie suggested, would be helpful.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 7:15AM
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I agree with Christie (and the others) who stole my answer (and added a few things I hadn't thought of). I know planting 500 plugs would take a long time, but if you have some success with those you plant directly in the Fall and Spring, You can fill in with those you plant in starter pots.

I planted a mix of butterfly weed, asters, Penstemon digitalis, and some others in late winter (I'm a bit of a procrastinator). I had a lot of success and planted them when I had time through out the season.

Beautiful pics/inspiration, rollie! ~smile~

Good luck. Keep us posted.


Here is a link that might be useful: A Native Backyard

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 12:08AM
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We always throw them on the ground as soon as they're collected -- as in nature. The yield is small (as in nature), but seeds are plentiful. Also they take a couple of years to appear. As far as this year is concerned you are about 6 weeks to late for this approach. Regards, Peter.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 5:39PM
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stonethegardener(Middlle GA)

I'd plant the seeds in a seed bed...
In my zone 8 garden, I plant ALL perennial seeds fresh... Just as soon as they are ripe.

We had an extra dry summer here last year, and while I had a lot of asclepias come up in my seed beds, they all seemed to die... I'm hoping that some of them merely went dormant early...

Here is a link that might be useful: butterfly weed

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 12:29PM
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Butterfly weed seeds are going to be in short supply around here. Ive looked at all of my hotspots, and I can hardly find a pod. Depressing..

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 10:44PM
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