Narrowleaf Milkweed Seeds (Asclepias fascicularis)
Native from western Mexico to British Columbia, this is arguably a cornerstone of monarch butterfly breeding habitat across large sections of the Inland West.
We like narrowleaf milkweed for its good tolerance to drought its ability to eek out surviving populations of itself, even in abused landscapes and areas overrun with invasive species. As a native dryland plant, we aren’t sure how it might perform in areas of more moisture, but it might make an interesting garden plant, one that is guaranteed to attract a stunning array of pollinating insects, even if monarchs don’t actually find it.
Reaching about 3-feet in mature height, narrow leaf milkweed does indeed produce long, thin, almost grass-like leaves. Surprisingly large pink or white blooms are borne upon the thin foliage and stems, almost giving the impression of the flower clusters floating unsupported above the surrounding vegetation.
Note: milkweed seeds can be hard to get started. We sometimes struggle ourselves to break seed dormancy, and get seedling plants growing. Based on our experience (which should not be treated as the last/best word on the subject), here’s what we recommend:
- Cold stratify the seeds in the refrigerator mixed with barely damp sand for 30-60 days, checking occasionally to ensure no mold is growing. If it is, wash it off immediately.
- Soak the seeds in hot tap water for 8-hours after removing them from the fridge.
- Wrap the seeds in a damp paper towel, place this inside a plastic bag, and leave the package somewhere warm but out of sunlight – such as the kitchen counter.
- Unwrap and check the seeds daily.
- Any germinating seeds should be placed into a container with a mix of 50:50 seed-starting mix and sand, and kept in a warm outdoor location out of direct sunlight.
- Water and care for the young plants daily until they are large enough (6-8 inches) to be transplanted into the ground.
Approximately 200 seeds. (1.0 grams).