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Q about harvesting milkweed seed

Posted by gardenfanatic MO zone5 (My Page) on
Sun, Nov 22, 09 at 18:25

I have annual milkweed (curassavica) that I'd like to harvest seed from for next year. However, for some reason, it formed pods late and they're still green. We haven't had a frost yet, which is highly unusual. It's supposed to get down to 32 on Thursday night. Will that stop the pod ripening process? If so, would it be completely useless to go ahead and remove the pods while still green?

Deanna


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RE: Q about harvesting milkweed seed

Some plants freeze at 32F, some don't, and some don't even need to get down as low as 32F. I don't know specifically about milkweed, but since it's a tropical/subtropical, I would think it will probably freeze.

If you are anticipating warmer weather after the freeze, you might cover the plant and hope it continues to ripen as warm days continue.

If the seeds aren't mature, they aren't likely to be viable, either if they freeze, or if you harvest them green.

If the worst happens, harvest the pods and open them. If they appear ripe, try sprouting them on a damp (not wet) paper towel in a plastic bag. If some/all sprout, you will know at least some of them are ripe. If you try sprouting ten seeds and six sprout, you have a 60% germination rate, so you would know to sow more seeds next year than you need.

If the pods/seeds are on the edge of maturity, the oldest pods (often the center ones) are likely to be the ripest.

Sue


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