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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
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.
Brad Grimm at GrowMilkweedPlants.com
Please take a moment to comment
Awesome investigative work Brad!!!
Super info!! Great for us milkweed lovers and simple enough for an elementary aged classroom project too. Thank you for sharing!!🐛🐌🐝🐞
Thanks for sharing, good job. This will really help more people plant milkweed.
This is probably a dumb question, but which method would work best for the swamp milkweed? I just purchased some seeds from you and am excited to try and grow them :)
Kamaile, I think getting the seed to START growing is the hardest part. Water germination should give you the best results. Water germination is also the fastest way to start the seed so it's a win win. I haven't tested water germination with swamp milkweed but it has worked so well with other kinds of milkweed that I think you will have good results. Let me know how it goes. Let me know if you have any additional questions as you are going thru the process. -Brad G.
Thanks so much Brad. I'm excited! I'm going to get the mat and the temp gun too. :)
I may have missed it, what does the water need to be changed 2x a day? Thank you.
Oops! I just found out by re-reading the description. Sorry about that! :)
Hi Brad, My question pertains to the caterpillars. I planted one Native Milk Weed plant. Within a short time I had 3 caterpillars. I now have around 25 caterpillars. They have eaten all the leaves. Will they move on to another type of plant to feed or are they going to starve? I want to plant more plants but can't find any around here. What do I do to save them?
Hi Ann. I'll assume the caterpillars are monarchs (milkweed tussock moth caterpillars also eat milkweed). Monarchs are a specialist eater and only eat milkweed plants. There are many kinds of milkweed in MS. Unfortunately I don't know of any local sources for plants to solve the problem. If you can identify milkweed then maybe you can find some in a roadside ditch, field or near a stream. Picking a few leaves would be perfect. https://www.growmilkweedplants.com/mississippi.html Caterpillars sure grow up fast. You may need as many as five plants to feed twenty-five caterpillars. Thank you for growing milkweed Ann. ??
Hi Ann. I'll assume the caterpillars are monarchs (milkweed tussock moth caterpillars also eat milkweed). Monarchs are a specialist eater and only eat milkweed plants. There are many kinds of milkweed in MS. Unfortunately I don't know of any local sources for plants to solve the problem. If you can identify milkweed then maybe you can find some in a roadside ditch, field or near a stream. Picking a few leaves would be perfect. https://www.growmilkweedplants.com/mississippi.html Caterpillars sure grow up fast. You may need as many as five plants to feed twenty-five caterpillars. Thank you for growing milkweed Ann.
Thanks Brad. Yes, my caterpillars are Monarchs. Since I couldn't find any wild Milk Weed around here, the caterpillars have moved on. Live and learn I guess. I will be planting more plants for next year in a corner of our yard. I really want to help the Monarch population thrive.
I collected one drying pod from a Chicago-area neighbor's plant last fall. I just found the ziplock bag of fuzzy stuff and black seeds.
It's "just now" the Summer Solstice (in the 50's, but, hey...).
If I plan to follow the "coffee filter / plate" water-method -- what exactly is "clipping"??? I'm supposed to "CLIP" the seeds that begin to germinate.
I checked the pdf, and the blog, but I'm still ignorant.
Then -- plant them INDOORS, to stick into a sunny spot IN THE FALL for NEXT YEAR?
Not sure what to do.
Clipping is the term used for removing the seed coat where the root radicle will grow. Some seeds like A. cordifolia and A. purpurascens sprout better when clipped. I don't prefer to actually clip the tip. I like to use pointed tweezers or a sharp blade to cut or pull away the seed coat to expose the root. More conversation at https://www.facebook.com/groups/growmilkweedplants/permalink/2029926400357307?sfns=xmo -Brad G.
I recently planted some butterfly weed seeds under windowsill domes in little plant starter pots. I had fair germination, about 50%. But interestingly, seeds I must have accidentally dropped outside the pots, inside the dome tray, seem to have gotten better germination results. So today, I deliberately dropped seeds in the tray, where they will sit in water. Let's see what happens.
Thanks for the excellent site.
Where might I find the cone shaped planter and the unit that holds them?
Cone-tainers are sold by https://www.greenhousemegastore.com product CN-SS-SC, CN-SS-SCTR98, CN-SS-DPFTR make a good trifecta for starting milkweed.
Just started about 20 each Spider and Antelope Horn milkweed (Viridis and Asperula) seeds in water. Following your suggestions, will report how it goes.
So far after 3 days, 3 seeds of each have 1/8" roots, and a bunch of others have white specks (future roots). Dang, this works! When all is done, will report how many sprouted.
After 5 days, 15 of 17 Spider sprouted (2 remaining seeds look like bad seeds - don't look right), and 6 of 19 Antelope Horn sprouted. I'll try clipping the remaining AHs to see if it helps. Those 13 remaining seeds look very viable. Strange how the two similar types of plants can have such differing results.
This is a final summary: 15 of 17 Spider, and 7 of 19 Antelope Horn.
I have certainly had that happen to me with a paper towel. If it is planting season you can plant the entire sheet and have some good luck. In later iterations of water germination I germinate in water (without any coffee filter paper). Save the current directions: https://www.growmilkweedplants.com/uploads/2/0/4/1/20418263/clipping.pdf
Going to try this out (first time). I may have missed this info, but after sprouting, can they be placed directly outdoors into soil or do I then put in small starting pots? Thank you!
My husband bought a packet of the Tuberosa seeds. I chilled them, now they are in a baggie on a wet paper towel on the heat mat at 72. I nicked about 1/4 of them, if those sprout first I can go back and Nick the others. I do that with Okra too! I’m completely new to growing Milkweed; we have so many trees that I can’t imagine where my husband is gonna put them. Reading this blog made me feel much more confident about getting them going though, and I will be glad to feed some butterflies! Thank you for sharing,
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