Hanging on to what you grew in the summer sun is a wonderful dream. Bud's, blooms and photosynthesis in December shouldn't be a daydream. Don't let the fall time change get you down. Stop fretting over decumbent stems. Despite the darkness and cold weather; you can grow all winter! Let's Hang On to what we grew in the summer.
Giving the orchid you got in July a home for the winter sound's nice. Is it practical? Can that giant milkweed really get giant-er? Don't let your temperamental houseplant take that prime spot in front of your only south facing window. Can you give your plants a tropical vacation that lasts all four seasons? You betcha!
How an Endless Summer Works
How a grow tent will improve your odds of success
Unlike a windowsill, grow tents use a reflective material inside to maximize and intensify the light. Walls reflect and diffuse the light, exposing plants to a greater concentration of light compared to growing indoors.
Your grow tent is extremely helpful when it comes to controlling the Air and Light around your plants. Protecting your plants from cold weather is the main goal. The air inside the grow tent will be maintained above a minimum temperature and below a maximum temperature that is set by you. Humidity of the air inside the grow tent is usually around 75%. Outside air humidity in Nevada is frequently below 15%. The higher humidity is an added bonus that makes the plants very happy inside the grow tent. The reflective material inside the grow tent maximizes the efficiency of the lighting. The grow tent is not a greenhouse. It can be placed where it gets no sunlight. A closet or garage are perfectly good locations for a grow tent. You will need access to an electrical outlet to power the lighting.
12 Products to Grow Milkweed Plants in all 4 seasons
Select the largest grow tent you have space for
There is a grow tent for every space. The largest grow tent I could fit in my garage has a 48"x48" footprint and is 80" tall. If your space is smaller, get a smaller tent. Have more space? Consider getting a larger grow tent.
Place light fixtures over your plants
The number of options for lights is nearly unlimited. Select Fluorescent or LED. The important thing here is the light fixture should fit the grow tent. Add more lights if necessary. Keep the plants well illuminated.
Warm the grow tent with space heaters
A grow tent is not the same as a greenhouse. A greenhouse gets heat from the sun. A grow tent needs a heater. Select a heat source that will raise the temperature inside the grow tent safely and efficiently.
Automate the temperature and lighting
Technology makes the grow tent go. Automate the temperature and lighting. The digital timer and temperature controller ensures plants receive even lighting while preventing drastic changes to their environment.
Mitigate potential problems with circulation
Don't grow in a static environment. Air circulation is absolutely necessary inside a grow tent. It's a proven fact that plants grow stronger and healthier stems when exposed to moving air.
Power the grow tent with safe electricity
Supply electricity to the grow tent without creating a fire hazard. A 15 Amp extension cord could be excessive. I'd rather be safe that sorry. Don't overload outlets. Never plug a surge protector into another surge protector.
*This blog post contains affiliate links to Amazon products that may help you germinate and grow milkweed plants.
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Start of Water Germination
2/10/18 12:00 68° 26 seeds placed in coffee filter and placed on plate. Poured dechlorinated water into plate to submerge seeds and wet filter.
2/10/18 21:00 68° drained water off plate. Added fresh dechlorinated water.
2/11/18 09:00 66° drained water off plate. Added fresh dechlorinated water.
2/11/18 21:00 water temp was 63° based on infrared thermometer. Drained water off plate (dropped half the seeds in the sink). Put seeds back and added dechlorinated water. Placed heat mat under plate. Water temp at 22:00 is 70°
2/13/18 01:00 drained water. Added water. 74°
2/13/18 13:00 drained water off plate. Two seeds are showing growth. Added water. Placed plate on heating mat.
2/14/18 01:00 drained water. Added fresh water. Placed plate with seeds on heating mat. At least six of twenty six seeds are growing. Water is 75° at 02:00
2/14/18 13:00 eight seeds are showing growth. Drained water. Added water. Back on heating mat. Water back to 75° at 14:00
2/15/18 00:00 drained and replaced the water. Placed plate on heating mat.
2/15/18 10:00 Five days since test began. Exactly 50% of showy milkweed seeds have germinated. 13 growing 13 not growing.
2/15/18 10:30 clipped the tip of the 13 ungerminated seeds and placed them in a new coffee filter in dechlorinated water on a plate on a heating mat. A plastic dome was placed over everything and the temp is now 80°-85°
2/16/18 00:45 added water to plate. Dome created higher temp which evaporated most of the water.
2/17/18 01:30 drained water. Added water. Placed plate on heat mat and covered with dome.
2/17/18 07:00 test complete. 21 of 26 seeds are growing in only seven days.
Within 5 days 50% of the seeds germinated. Thats 13 of 26 seeds growing in five days. Clipping of the 13 ungerminated seeds was done at the end of 5 days. The 13 newly clipped seeds germinated at a rate of 62% after two additional days. That means 8 ofthe 13 slow to germinate seeds did end up growing after clipping occurred Total germination of the 26 seeds was 21 seeds or 80.7%
Water Germination of Common Milkweed Seeds
Water germination of showy milkweed seeds worked very well. 80% of the showy milkweed seeds germinated in seven days. I am repeating the test with common milkweed seeds.
When you ask the internet "how to grow common milkweed?" you will almost always be provided directions to Cold Moist Stratification of Milkweed Seeds. Does it work? Yes. Is there a faster way that works? Lets find out.
Water Germination of Showy Milkweed Seeds worked and you can read about that at the beginning of this blog post. I'm in the process of testing the method using common milkweed seeds. The results will be updated as they become available. As you can see in this photo the common milkweed seeds are in a coffee filter. The coffee filter is placed on a lunch plate. Dechlorinated water is poured onto the plate so the seeds are fully submerged. The plate is placed on top of a seedling heat mat. A plastic bin is placed over everything. The temperature of the water is measured with an infrared thermometer. Current temperature is 80 degrees Fahrenheit Try to keep the seeds between 75 degrees and 85 degrees. Latest update 3/6/2018
Day one requires an initial setup. Place the seedling warming mat on a table and plug it in. Set a plate on the seedling warming mat. Hopefully the day before this you have left water out for twenty four hours so it is now dechlorinated water. Pour the water into the plate. Place the milkweed seeds in the coffee filter. Set the coffee filter on the plate so the seeds are completely submerged in water. Water temperature should be 75 to 85 degrees.
Day One Video
Clipping the milkweed seed will speed up water germination. The seeds can be clipped before going in the water but I like to wait twelve to thirty six hours before clipping the seeds. Letting them absorb some water in the first day makes them softer and easier to clip.
Day Two Video
At day four there were ten seeds beginning to grow. Sixteen seeds are not showing any signs of germination. At this point I was still expecting more of the seeds to grow over the next few days. That did not occur. All the growth began in fewer then five days. The best thing to do with the common milkweed seeds that are not growing is to place them into cold moist stratification.
Water Germination of Whorled Milkweed Seeds
Day One Thru Three
Continue to drain and replenish the water twice per day. At day four there are a total of six seeds germinating in the bottom of the cup. The cup has always been siting on top of the *seedling warming mat.
Testing of whorled milkweed continued until seven days elapsed.
At day seven the seeds were removed from the cup of water, untangled, and counted. The results were extremely rewarding. Seventeen seeds are growing and thirteen seeds did not grow. The germination rate is 56% in only seven days. While the germination rate did not reach the ideal number of 93% the results are considered successful. In addition to the number of seeds that germinated I was very surprised to see how long the roots had grown and how vigorous the seedlings appeared to be. When the outdoor weather becomes suitable for growing I will plan to water germinate many more whorled milkweed seeds.
Water Germination of Mexican Whorled Milkweed seeds
Water Germination of Milkweed tree seeds
Milkweed tree, Calotropis procera 25 seeds
- Source location: St Thomas Virgin Islands
Common names include Giant milkweed, Sodom's Apple, Dead Sea Apple, Rooster Tree, Rubber Bush and Milkweed tree. Zone 10-11 plant will like special treatment in colder zones during winter. Can be grown in an island (container). Blooms in under a year. Seed germinates in fewer than four days. Plant will continue to grow for many years when protected from cold weather.
Water Germination of Butterfly Weed Seeds
Durring the second water change twenty seven of the thirty seeds were growing.
Water Germination of Sand MilkWeed Seeds
Day One through Day Five
Day Six Through Day Eight
Day Nine Through Day Eleven
Water Germination of Heartleaf MilkWeed Seeds
Day One Through Day Nine
Thirty Heartleaf milkweed seeds placed in a cup of shallow water. Placed cup on seedling warming mat. Water changed with fresh water after twelve hours. Water changed every twelve hours for nine days. On day five i scraped the tip of five seeds with a sharp knife to remove part of the seeds exterior near where the root radical grows from. On day nine I clipped the tip of the other twenty five seeds with tweezers.
Water Germination of Desert Milkweed Seeds
Highly successful! Water germination of these desert milkweed seeds was very quick and easy. The seeds began sprouting on the second day and all fourteen of the seeds that grew were growing by day three.
One seeds didn't grow at all. The sample size was small only fifteen seeds. Overall I got 93% germination. After getting sprouts in three days I continued the water germination process thru day five.
On the fifth day I planted the seeds in soil. I made a video of the process. Be sure to Subscribe, Like and Share the video.
Cold Moist Stratification of Milkweed Seeds
Winter sowing milkweed seeds is the natural way to break their dormancy. The cycle of freeze and thaw mixed with occasional rain or snow does two things. First, the seeds coat is physically scraped by movement over the dirt. Second, the inner biology is adjusted because the seed has been imbibing water over the winter. Once the warm days arrive in late spring seed is prepared for grow.
Repeat success indicates that the process works!
CMS with showy milkweed seeds
On 2/18/17 I prepared seven baggies with showy milkweed seeds. Pictured is midway thru the process. On the left I am in step 7. Dormant seeds are spread on the moist paper towel.
CMS with woollypod milkweed seeds
In May 2017 I purchased woollypod milkweed seeds on ebay and began the process of CMS to prepare them to grow. These seeds are really big! The seeds were collected in the fall of 2016 and began dormant.
Step 12 looks easy. Waiting can be the hardest part. Give the seeds 40 to 60 days in the refrigerator. My fridge has a temperature display on the door. Looks like the seeds are about 37 degrees.
Step 15 is pretty cool to see. The seeds are growing right inside the baggie! Time to take the seedlings out of the paper towel and get them in the ground. Some of the seeds root is piercing thru the paper towel. Just pull the towel apart and be careful not to harm the seeds root.
8/3/16 #31 Female
8/4/16 #32 Male
8/5/16 #33 Female
8/11/16 #34 Female
8/12/16 #35 Male
8/14/16 #36 Male m
8/14/16 #37 Female
8/21/16 #38 Female
8/22/16 #39 Female WSU tag A1656
8/22/16 #40 Female WSU tag A1657
8/23/16 #41 Male A1658
8/23/16 #42 Male A1659
8/23/16 #43 Male A1660
8/23/16 #44 Female A1661
8/23/16 #45 Male A1662
8/23/16 #46 Female A1663
8/23/16 #47 Female A1664
8/23/16 #48 Male A1665
8/23/16 #49 Female A1666
8/23/16 #50 Female A1667
8/23/16 #51 Female A1668
8/23/16 #52 Female A1669
8/23/16 #53 Male A1670
8/23/16 #54 Male A1671
8/23/16 #55 Female A1672
8/23/16 #56 Male A1673
8/24/16 #57 Female
8/24/16 #58 Female
9/11/16 #59 Male A1674
9/11/16 #60 Male A1675
9/11/16 #61 Female
Prepare Your Milkweed for the Monarchs Arrival
Expose Milkweed to the Breeze
Believe it or not, you can start your seeds indoors. The trick is to make sure the seedlings have plenty of airflow while they are growing indoors so they will be strong enough to withstand the wind once they are transplanted outdoors. Be sure to move the young plants so their stems get wind from multiple directions. They will develop a thick outer covering that will help them to remain upright.
Of course, if you can grow them from cuttings, they will do much better. They should be placed into distilled water for four weeks in order to develop a large root system. The great thing about these two methods is that you can get started on these projects while it is still cold outside and your plants will get a head start on the growing season.
Diversify Your Milkweed Garden
Many people grow milkweed in containers and place them around their patio so they can watch the butterflies. If you want to do this, you'll need to get your containers ready in the spring. If you've used the pot before, check it for predators that might destroy the plants before you put in your milkweed seedlings. It's best to disinfect pots before use and rinse them completely before putting your potting soil into them.
Plan Ahead for Next Seasons Monarchs
Some gardeners leave their Milkweed plants in the ground over the winter months but prune them back. If you do decide to do this, make sure to leave at least some of the stem showing above the ground. In the spring time, don't give up hope on your milkweed plants' survival. They tend to begin growing later than other plants do. Remember where you have placed them and keep a sharp eye for signs that they are renewing for a second or third year of growth.
He runs a site dedicated to the history, education and care of knockout roses at
Make milkweed your friend. Your friends will love your milkweed. My name is Brad. Learn more about me now.
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June 2015 Monarchs Everywhere
February 2015 Podcast launch
January 2015 Monarch Count
January 2015 Winter 2014
November 2014 - Welcome
October 2014 - Migration