Milk Weed Seeds You just found our 20+ year ongoing thank you for our visitors. Our goal – Help Nature and others in need. Low cost, high quality seed for all and for some in need *Free* An effective way to attract monarch butterflies to your garden is to plant milkweed. We have tips on organizations that will send milkweed seeds to gardeners at no charge. Common Milkweed produces purple/pink flower clusters that wildflower gardeners love. Attract Monarch Butterflies to your garden or meadow. Perennial (Asclepias syriaca)
Milk Weed Seeds
You just found our 20+ year ongoing thank you for our visitors.
Our goal – Help Nature and others in need.
Low cost, high quality seed for all and for some in need *Free* seeds, just cover postage and promise to share with others. The efforts and generosity of our staff and others like you keeps this possible. Thank you for helping us plant and share the wealth of Nature one seed at a time.
Due to overwhelming demand, shipping dates for new orders may be 2 weeks. Thank you for your patience.
This is the real picture of what our staff must now process to reach your new requests for seed. There are 400+ envelopes per tote. We respect this line and are going in order of what comes in to our post office. Planting Milkweed seed in the late Fall is Nature’s way, some seed is always dormant and needs the Winter cold to germinate in the Spring. We have already rushed our small seed providers to send in the best they have and are trying to recruit more local assistance to return your envelopes with the correct high quality seed you expect. Our full color info posters went out with the first wave of interest, we ran out. We will upload materials here soon so you have access to even better growing instructions and more easily printable information sheets making your experience even better. Know we are working very hard to catch up. You still have time to get your butterfly gardens planted. We suggest planting in Fall and early Spring. Seeds stored cool and dry can last several years.
Hello you wonderful caring people that are taking action to support your local Monarch Butterflies! You are the engine that drives our 21 year ongoing campaign to provide Free Education and the seeds to plant the edible homes for Monarch butterflies across North America. Our small staff of very dedicated people are willing to put in long hours to fill the requests you send in with the best Milkweed seed for your gardens.
Please be patient as this tremendous activity was not expected. Yes, we still have seeds and more are on the way from our best suppliers – some of whom are simple families that actually harvested the seeds. Our normal 2 day processing may take an extra week. You still have plenty of time to get seeds to match Nature’s natural timing of milkweed pods opening over the next few months. Seeds can be planted even in cold weather as many milkweed seed types have some dormancy and need the winter cold cycles to be able to germinate.
Your many posts on social media are much appreciated. We ask that you direct all new people to this site first, so they can read our message and get the details they really need. Please do not post our PO Box address or give inaccurate information, causing people to waste postage, envelopes or make mistakes like no stamp or return address for the free seed program. This Free seed program relies on small purchases and contributions to be able to break even. Please understand that in order to continue it we must cover the costs somehow.
Who should be getting FREE seeds? Our program is intended for Kids, Educators and people that really are having struggles and need a smile that Nature provides. It is not a gift program for your friends that can afford to contribute to the campaign. Please take this to heart. While 15 seeds may be enough you might want to share with neighbors and save them the postage and us the extra effort. Please review the seed pack page to use as gifts.
A mountain of incoming mail without postage could end it for everyone so please help us to continue this important community service that covers North America. Yes, Canada we send seeds to you too – the stamp is $1.90 USD. We suggest joining up with a few families.
Asclepias is the main name for milkweed, the varieties we have at the moment are… Syriaca, Speciosa, Incarnata, Tuberosa, and limited Fascicularis for CA, we also have regional specific wildflower mixes that have 12-25 types of flowering plants mostly Perennial. We can add extra milkweed to the mixes if requested.
If you have a strong opinion of what seed you do or do not want please add a note.
Everyone, please take the time to research the best varieties of milkweed for your specific area, US Gov maps below are generally showing where these varieties are currently found. More detailed “Native” maps are on many other sites, review them for new research. If you have seeds to share please contact us. While there are about 80 milkweed varieties in North America many of these are not commercially available and we can not grow them in our region. Please know if you ask us to choose the best variety we will send the most productive we have for the Monarchs. We have drastically limited our use of Tropical milkweed due to the concerns of some researchers… It must be specifically requested and used responsibly as a backup food supply. Please support your local providers and nurseries. They have local knowledge and you can see what is flying around the plants to know what is really productive in your area.
While this site needs to be updated regularly it relied on the best information at the time created. We remain focused on the goal of ensuring the continued Annual Migration of the Monarch Butterfly Across North America. Please make informed choices and care for one another.
Here’s How You Can Get Free Milkweed Seeds to Help Monarch Butterflies
Including native plants in your garden is just one way to help the pollinator population rebound.
Andrea Beck spent more than three years writing about food for Better Homes & Gardens before serving as the assistant digital garden editor. Now, she writes about lifestyle topics, including food, garden, home, and health for Hy-Vee’s Seasons magazine. Her work has appeared on Food & Wine, Martha Stewart, MyRecipes, and more. Andrea holds a double degree in magazines and English, with a minor in politics from Drake University.
Yesterday kicked off the first day of spring, which in my mind always signals the return of blooming flowers, chirping birds, and butterflies fluttering everywhere. Aside from helping pollinate wildflowers, I love seeing butterflies every year because they make gardens look so much more magical and full of life. Monarchs are one of my all-time favorites because of their huge, unmistakable black and orange wings. One of the most effective ways to attract more monarch butterflies to your garden is to plant milkweed, and organizations dedicated to their conservation will sometimes send the seeds to gardeners at no charge. Some butterfly and garden enthusiasts have even taken it upon themselves to make accessing the seeds easy for everyone.
A man in Omaha, Bob Gittins, took on a huge role in trying to save the monarchs. According to the Omaha World-Herald, after having trouble finding milkweed plants in stores, Gittins started buying the seeds in bulk from the Save Our Monarchs Foundation in Minnesota. Now, he’s helping other gardeners by giving away the seeds for free. Last year, he sent out 1,500 seed packets.
How to Get Free Milkweed Seeds
If you’d like to take advantage of the free pollinator seeds and sprinkle some in your yard, all you need to do is drop a self-addressed, stamped envelope in the mail to: Nebraska Monarchs, P.O. BOX 642061, Omaha, NE 68164. Gittins will send back milkweed seeds as soon as he can so you get them in the ground.
I found an organization, Live Monarch Foundation, that also offers free seeds. If you mail a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the Live Monarch Seed Campaign, the foundation will send back 15 butterfly garden seeds, including milkweed, for free. If you include a donation for the foundation along with your envelope, they’ll provide you with 40+ seeds for every dollar you donate.
Common Milkweed Varieties
Typically, Live Monarch Foundation has several varieties of seeds, and they’ll give you seeds that are native to your region. They have a few different hardy varieties of this perennial, including Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed) and Asclepias speciosa (showy milkweed), which can both survive freezing winters after the growing season ends. The foundation also has Asclepias curassavica (tropical milkweed), which grows well in Southern states like Florida, Louisiana, and Texas.
Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on milkweed, and when they hatch, it’s the only plant the caterpillars will eat. That’s what makes it so crucial for helping the next generation hatch each season. And with the monarch population declining, it’s more important now than ever before for us to do our part to help these pollinators rebound.
How to Plant Milkweed Seeds
If you get milkweed seeds for your garden, you can start them indoors in early spring. Growing the plants inside for a few months gives them extra time to mature before transplanting outside. Then, plant the sprouts outside after the last spring frost in your region. In the fall, simply scatter the seeds outdoors; they won’t germinate until they’ve been exposed to freezing temperatures and won’t sprout until next spring. If you’re interested in purchasing your seeds to start, you can find them at most garden supply stores.
While the monarch butterfly population won’t recover overnight, we home gardeners all across the country can do our part to help just by including a few milkweed plants our their yards. Look for them as you’re planning your garden this year, or mail in an envelope to get a few seeds for free. In addition to milkweed, adult monarchs also love nectar-rich plants like lantana, rudbeckia, and yarrow, so you can beautify your garden and help butterflies at the same time!
Common Milkweed Seeds
Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) produces purple/pink flower clusters that wildflower gardeners love. Milkweed is one of the Monarch Butterflies’ favorite plants and will bring many winged friends to your garden or meadow. It can be a challenge to grow but once established it will thrive for years to come and spread quickly. Perennial.
USDA Hardiness Planting Zones
To determine if a plant is sufficiently cold hardy, the USDA created numbered zones indicating winter low temperatures; the lower the zone number the colder the winter.
- If the coldest winter temperature expected in your area is -15°F (zone 5) then any plants rated zones 3-5 will survive the winter temperatures in your area.
- If you live in very warm winter areas (zones 9-11) plants with zones 3-4 ratings are not recommended. The lack of freezing winter temperatures do not provide a time for winter dormancy (rest).
Find Your Planting Zone:
Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is a handsome, straight plant you see in every farm field and growing wherever a roadside hasn’t been mowed. Leaves are glossy and thick, and the blooms are large, rounded clusters of purplish/pink flowers atop plants that range from 2 to 5 ft. It’s native in the US from Canada to Georgia, and west to Texas.
The botanical name, “Asclepias”; is after Aesclepios, the Greek God of medicine, since this plant has been used as a medicinal since ancient times. “Milkweed” derives from the fact that when you break a stem, sticky white sap immediately appears. Common Milkweed is one of our commonest “weeds,” but one almost all wildflower gardeners want.
This is the plant famous for its “silky seeds” in fall, when you see the drying cone-shaped seedpods crack open and their snow-white shiny fluff flying around the meadow. This is the dispersal mechanism for the large shiny seeds of common milkweed. Every kid loves to blow them away in fall, like dandelion seeds in spring.
Even though farmers hate milkweed, you’ll love it in your wildflower garden. for two reasons. It’s beautiful and dependably perennial, and it’s the No. 1 plant visited by Monarch butterflies on their famous migration south every summer and fall. In fact, during late summer, it’s somewhat rare to see a milkweed plant without a monarch perched upon the flowers, making it the No. 1 butterfly magnet among our wildflowers. (“Butterfly Weed” is a close relative, with bright orange flowers.)
Native Range for Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed) – AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, WI, WV.
Attract Butterflies To Your Garden With Milkweed!
Understanding Milkweed (Asclepias) Seed & Germinating
Germination: To start Milkweed seed we recommend starting inside, but before this happens Milkweed seeds need to go through a cold stratification period. Cold stratification is very important for the germination and growth of Milkweed. It helps break the seeds natural dormancy cycle. To do this, we recommend placing Milkweed seed in a damp paper towel or damp sand in a zip lock bag and place in your fridge for 3 – 6 weeks (30 days). Place in an area of the fridge, where it won’t get damaged. We taped ours to the bottom of a refrigerator shelf.
Planting In Spring: Once the 30 days are complete, it’s time to plant the cold stratified Milkweed (asclepias) seeds. We recommend planting in 2-4” peat pots. Fill peat pots ¾ of the way with seed starting potting soil and gently add water. Water should be able to drain through the peat pots. Once the soil is damp, place 1-2 cold stratified seeds into each pot. To finish, place 1/4 inch of soil on top of the seed.
Planting In Fall: If you’re planting Milkweed seed in the fall, let nature do the cold stratification for you! There is no need to place your seeds in the refrigerator before planting, you can plant seeds directly into the soil after there have been a few frosts in your area. This allows for the seeds to remain dormant for the winter and come up in the early spring. Clear away any existing growth and using your index finger to measure, create 1.5″ holes for each Milkweed seed. We recommend spacing seeds about 4-6” apart. Place a seed in each hole and cover. Water thoroughly.
Watering: Gently water the planted seed to give additional hydration. The best way to water is from the bottom up. Use a flat pan under the peat pots and add a half inch of water to the bottom of the tray. Don’t over water as it can cause fungus. Water every day or every other day as needed, the best way to test the soil dampness is to touch it. If the soil seems dry then add water; if it’s wet, wait for the soil to dry out to water.
Light Requirements: For the next few weeks, make sure the Milkweed is either in a sunny window, in a green house or under a grow light. Milkweed needs lots of sun and warmth to grow. If you’re using a grow light, make sure to lower the bulb closer to the pots or your seedlings may become leggy, as they stretch to the light. In our experiment, this happened to us. Ideally a sturdier stem is better. Cold stratified seeds should germinate and sprout within 10-15 days once planted. In total Milkweed from the day they are cold stratified to growth can take 40 plus days, so be patient!
Other planting options: Place dry seed (not stratified) in seed starting soil and plant in peat pots under a grow light or in a greenhouse to germinate seeds. The success rate for this is low and more difficult to accomplish. If you choose to use this option it can take months for the seeds to germinate.
If you are planting seed outside, we suggest seeding in late fall, and let the Milkweed seed lay on the ground through winter. Milkweed seed will have a long winter of dormancy, so once the sun comes out and the ground warms in the spring, the seeds will germinate on their own.
Transplanting Milkweed (Asclepias) Seedling Outdoors
Where to Plant: Milkweed does well in open areas with full sunlight exposure areas like fields, parks, cultivated gardens, roadsides, highway medians, and road sides. We suggest transplanting Milkweed when the plant is no larger than 3 inches tall. In most cases in transplanting, the Milkweed plant will go though some shock and could lose all its leaves. This happens, don’t panic. The plant is trying to establish its roots and will eventually grow leaves again. This is the main reason we suggest planting seeds in peat pots, because Milkweed roots are very sensitive. Peat Pots breakdown over time in the ground, which allows the milkweed roots to grows without being disrupted. We found this to be the best way to transplant. If you decide to plant in plastic containers, but make sure it’s deep enough for roots to grow. If you receive a plant already grown in plastic, be careful to take out the plant and not disturb the roots.
When to plant: Soil moisture and temperature are very important when growing Milkweed. The best time to plant Milkweed is in early spring after the danger of frost has passed. If you plant seeds late in the spring, the seeds may not grow due to Common Milkweed Field Grown germination time and temperature. Common Milkweed seed doesn’t germinate over 85 degrees.
Caring For Milkweed (Asclepias) Plants
Once your seedling is planted, water it for a few days to get it established, but after that, the plant doesn’t need a lot of supplemental water. Only water if you have an unusual dry spell. Peat pots are nice to use, but you need to be sure there is no top edge above the soil line after transplanting. In dry climates, this will wick away valuable soil moisture. A small 2 1/2″ diameter x 3 in. deep pot is ideal. Asclepias are somewhat finicky native plants. So minimizing the time growing in a pot and transplanting them as young plants is the best approach.
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