Finding and Collecting Milkweed
Finding Milkweed | Growing Milkweed |
Catching Monarchs | Making a Cage |
Seed Collection / Storage
End of season milkweed with "silk" and seeds
Collect your seeds when the milkweed pods are ready to burst (this occurs in the
fall in the northern United States). Once you have collected seeds, remove them
from the pods and store them in an airtight container in a cool and dry environment
(such as a basement or garage) until you are ready to use them. It is best to include
a moisture remover (i.e.
Silica gel) in your seed storage container. If
the seeds are moist for a long period of time, they will start to rot and eventually
die. Seeds collected in the Northern US will not germinate without
(see the growing milkweed
for further information); most tropical species can be planted without
If you want to purchase seeds, check out the following websites:
www.educationalscience.com/milkweed. There are a variety of milkweed species
to choose from, so you might want to experiment with a number of species to begin
Plant Collection / Storage
Most milkweed species grow particularly well in disturbed areas, so take a look
in the following places:
- Along railroad tracks
- Bike paths
- Highway medians
- Agricultural fields
- Vacant land
- Cultivated gardens
When collecting milkweed, it is best to pick the entire plant (check the plant for
invertebrates to ensure you don't take any unexpected critters home with you). You
can pick several days worth of milkweed and keep it in a plastic bag in a refrigerator.
Wash it in water before using it. Milkweed stays fresher if you keep the end moist
by wrapping it in a wet paper towel and then covering it with aluminum foil, or
use florist water tubes or soda bottles.
Plants can also be purchased from your local nursery.
Female adult monarchs have a milkweed preference when laying their eggs. To find
out what their favorite is, read
this article from our 2005 MITC Newsletter.