Showy Milkweed Seeds (Asclepias speciosa)
The only native host plant for monarch butterflies west of the Cascade Mountains!
Showy milkweed’s thick fleshy stems and leaves make it a unique addition to any landscape, and the large, showy, globe-like pink flowers attract clouds of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. In the Northwest, showy milkweed does best in open sunny habitats with moist, fertile soils, and low competition from taller plants.
While monarch butterfly numbers have declined by more than 80% over the past 20 years, the past few years have seen regular reports of them appearing in cities like Portland. This plant is critical to their survival in our region!
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 150 seeds per packet. (1.1 grams).