Frequently Asked Questions
- What milkweed is best for me?
- How do I determine which milkweed is native to my state?
- What is cold moist stratification?
- How do I perform cold moist stratification?
- I planted my seeds directly outdoors and they didn’t germinate. What happened?
- How do I start seeds indoors?
We encourage you to plant milkweed that is native to your state. However, if you see a non-native milkweed that you really like, go for it! Monarch butterflies use all milkweed species as their host plant.
Enter your state into the search box above and hit Go. The search will return all milkweed species native to your state. If your state contains two words, like New York, be sure to put quotes around it like this: "New York"
Many species of milkweed have a dormancy built into the seeds, preventing them from germinating. In nature this dormancy protects seeds from germinating as soon as they settle into the soil in the fall. Cold moist stratification naturally occurs over the winter as several months of rain/snow and cold temperatures prepare the seeds for germination in the spring.
Option 1 - The best method for breaking dormancy is to plant the seeds outdoors in November. This gives the seeds the required exposure to moisture and cold temperatures. Once the temperature is warm enough in the spring, the seeds will germinate.
Option 2 - The following process will break dormancy in milkweed seeds if you are not able to plant the seeds outdoors during the month of November:
- Place seeds in a plastic Ziploc bag. We recommend that you label the bag with the date and name of the milkweed species.
- Place 1/4 cup of horticultural sand, 1/4 teaspoon of hot water, and your milkweed seeds into the bag. Then seal the bag and mix the contents well.
- Place bag in the refrigerator for 6 weeks and then plant. If outdoor temperatures are still below freezing, keep the seeds in the refrigerator and plant once the danger of nighttime freezing temperatures has past.
We have prepared the following video tutorial to demonstrate "Option 2":
The first potential cause is that mice, squirrels, and birds find seeds to be tasty treats. The second potential cause is that seeds can be washed away during heavy rains or as snow melts. To avoid these issues, we suggest that you start your seeds indoors.
We have created the following video tutorial to demonstrate how to start your milkweed and nectar plant seeds indoors. This method allows you to get a head start on spring planting.