*This blog post contains affiliate links to Amazon products that may help you germinate and grow milkweed plants.
Water Germination of Showy Milkweed Seeds
In this test seeds of Asclepias speciosa (showy milkweed) were used. The seeds were collected in the fall of 2017. Under normal conditions the seeds would have fell to the ground in September. Their tough exterior would have been exposed to the weather during the winter. Snow and rain would have stratified the seed and prepared them to grow in the late spring.
The seeds being tested have not lived a normal life. These seeds were collected from ripe opening pods on top of milkweed plants that were beginning to go dormant after a long hot summer. After being collected they were separated from their seed pod and the milkweed silk that could have carried them thru the air. The seeds are dried for a few weeks in the open air and then stored in open bags indoors.
To be fair, nature does a pretty good job. Milkweed has been growing for thousands of years without any human intervention. On the other hand, one milkweed plant can cast out thousands of seeds and only a tiny fraction of those seeds will find the right conditions to grow. Milkweed seeds do benefit from Cold Moist Stratification which can be simulated in the refrigerator. It takes time to cold moist stratify milkweed seeds and may not be necessary. What if there is a faster way that works?
2/12/18 09:00 drained water off plate. Added fresh dechlorinated water. Placed plate on the heating mat. Water temp at 10:00 is 74°
2/13/18 01:00 drained water. Added water. 74°
2/16/18 13:00 drained water. Added water. Placed plate on heat mat. Added dome over everything.
2/17/18 01:30 drained water. Added water. Placed plate on heat mat and covered with dome.
Water Germination of Common Milkweed Seeds
Water change twice per day. Two of the twenty six seeds have root beginning to show from the seed.
The test continued to day seven. The length of the seeds roots increased but the ungerminated seeds did not germinate. The method is effective in germinating common milkweed seeds. Only some of the viable seeds seem ready to grow. I would like to guess then cold moist stratification prior to water germination could increase the germination rates of the common milkweed seed.
Water Germination of Whorled Milkweed Seeds
The whorled milkweed seeds I am working with this week have a verified germination rate of 93%. The goal is to start these seeds growing in less then a week. The test began with thirty whorled milkweed seeds.
Water Germination of Mexican Whorled Milkweed
This test began with thirty mexican whorled milkweed seeds. The seeds were placed in a cup and water is added to one centimeter in depth. Twice each day the water was drained and replenished. At day two there was one seed growing and twenty nine were not. At four days there were seven seeds growing and twenty three were not. The test continued for a total of six days.
At the end of day six there were seven seeds germinated. The test concluded. The germination rate in water of the initial thirty seeds was 23%. Seven seeds grew and twenty three seeds did not germinate. The seeds that did sprout grew very long and healthy looking roots. I decided to plant the roots in a bit of soil. The outdoor temperature is not conducive to growing milkweed seedlings in March. I have placed the plants in soil in a red solo cup with drainage holes. They remain on the seedling warming mat on my kitchen counter. I'll try to provide an update as far as if they survive or die. I'm not very optimistic because I continue to have problems growing mexican whorled milkweed despite how well it seems to grow all around me.
Water Germination of Butterfly Weed Seeds
Thirty butterfly weed seeds placed in a cup of shallow water. Placed cup on seedling warming mat. Water changed with fresh water after twelve hours.
Water changed with fresh water twice on day two.
Water changed with fresh water twice on day three.
Water changed with fresh water twice on day three.
Durring the second water change twenty seven of the thirty seeds were growing.
At the beginning of day five all thirty seeds were growing. 100% germination of thirty seeds in five days.
WOW! Water germination of butterfly weed worked great. I've never seen 100% germination before. Results are not typical. These seeds in the test are no longer available but they were great while they lasted. Plants from these seeds are growing in my garden. When they produce seeds I'll make them available on this site.
Water Germination of Sand MilkWeed Seeds
Day One through Day Five
Thirty Sand 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 five days. At the beginning of the fifth day six seed were growing.
Day Six Through Day Eight
Water changed with fresh water every twelve hours. On the beginning of day eight ten seeds were growing. The ten growing seeds were planted.
Day Nine Through Day Eleven
Water changed with fresh water every twelve hours. The water germination test concluded on day eleven. Eleven seeds grew.
Eleven of thirty sand milkweed seeds grew. The germination rate is 36%. The seeds were from Prairie Moon Nursery and they told me the germination rate of these seeds was 25%. Therefore water germination of sand milkweed appears to work better then whatever method was used in their germination test.
Water Germination of Heartleaf MilkWeed Seeds
Day One Through Day Nine
Water Germination of Desert Milkweed Seeds
Pro tip. Asclepias erosa grows a massive taproot when mature. This allows it to be a great plant thru the dry hot summers in the southwest. Be aware that the small root is very brittle and a great deal of care needs to be taken while handling and planting the seedling. A broken root can kill the fragile plant.
Brad Grimm at GrowMilkweedPlants.com
Please take a moment to comment
Make milkweed your friend. Your friends will love your milkweed. My name is Brad. Learn more about me now.
email Subscriber archive
December 2017 Holiday
June 2015 Monarchs Everywhere
February 2015 Podcast launch
January 2015 Monarch Count
January 2015 Winter 2014
November 2014 - Welcome
October 2014 - Migration