Since I had a ten day Florida vacation planned, I thought I’d try and germinate my tropical milkweed seeds while I was gone.
The trick is to keep the seeds moist and warm during that time and make sure they don’t dry out. I not only watered the seed bed well, but I also covered it with a plastic well-fitting top. I put the shop lights right above the plastic lid. I then left on vacation and after ten days, this is what I came home to.
I came home to hundreds of seedlings and look forward to transplanting them into other containers.
It’s April 21st and in St. Louis we have just been visited by our first Monarch butterfly. This was a female looking for milkweed to lay eggs on.
What is interesting to note is that just six days ago, we had frost yet the cooler temperatures have not hurt the monarchs or the milkweed.
Unless you have started milkweed from seed, most people won’t have any milkweed to provide the visiting monarchs.
Swamp Milkweed is one of my favorites in spring as it has a lovely form and beautiful flowers.
The problem we have is that it only lasts three or so years before it dies off. The problem is probably the hot dry summers we have, which is not conducive to any plant with swamp in it’s name.
To avoid having to buy new plants every year, make sure you collect the seeds when they ripen on the stem, put them in a paper bag and then plant them in late fall where you want them to grow. Next year you will be rewarded with lots of new plants free of any cost. You can also buy seeds online and plant them outside in the fall.
Another trick I have learned is that your can dig up plants early in the spring and divide them. This way you may end up with six plants instead of one.
I have some milkweed seeds that I’d be glad to share. The seeds are Tropical Milkweed, Asclepias curassavica. Plant the seed so it is slightly covered and keep warm and moist to start. If you start these inside, you can get a a head start on spring. Plant when all danger of frost is gone – usually around May 1st in St. Louis Missouri.
Another option is to plant these in the soil and let them come up naturally.
Send a SASE – Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope to:
Free Milkweed Seeds
9016 Robyn Rd
St. Louis, MO 63126
What I’ve found with Swamp Milkweed, Asclepias incarnata, in St. Louis MO is that it only lives for about three years, sometimes only two years in a typical home garden setting. While it prefers a wet-rain garden setting, all of my beds are raised for drainage and not ideal for this species.
One swamp milkweed that did spectacular last year, this year it now looks poorly and possibly dying. From my past experience I know that this plant will probably not make it next year. Here are a couple of pictures of the milkweed.
What I’ve had success with in the past is cutting in back to six inches, digging up the root ball and separating it into individual plants. I will then keep them in pots for a month or two and make sure they are always moist. I then will plant it back in the garden.