Sunday, February 27, 2022

Countdown to Butterfly Weed


This is orange milkweed also known as butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa. It is a pretty native plant that is important to monarch butterflies. Adult butterflies feed on its nectar. Click to enlargre.

It is also a host plant for monarch caterpillars. Here's one now, eating foliage.

It's really pretty in the garden, producing pods at the end of the growing season. Here is a patch I grew from seeds. At the end of the season I collected seeds from these pods.

They've been in a paper bag since then.

Look how delicate and pretty they are. They are incredibly well engineered, lighter than feathers and ready to fly on the slightest puff of air. As soon as I opened the bag they commenced flying all over my house. 

These two were making their way across the floor. Looking for the garden?

My bounty of milkweed seeds. 

Eventually I removed all the fluff. After a little vacuuming all is OK again. I'm going to cold treat them by keeping them moist in the refrigerator for 30 days. It will simulate winter and increase the percentage that germinate when I plant them later. I mentioned above that I grew my plants from seeds. I bought those seeds from a nursery at 40 seeds for $6. Behold my seed wealth now!

I  wet a paper towel, squeezed out excess water, sprinkled about 40 seeds on one side.

Folded once.

Folded again. I made four of these.

I put them all in a big sealable plastic bag. Then into the refrigerator until the end of March when I will plant them in little pots indoors. At the end of April, after fear of frost, they'll be ready to plant outside. And then...

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