Milkweed


I’m going to attempt to grow some Milkweed for the Butterflies this year.

The seed packet says to start indoors 8-10 weeks before last frost. That is right about now… I mean, our last frost date is very dependant on the year. And there are things that I can do to help protect the little plants if we have a cold spring.

The seed packet description reads: “Asclepias curassavica. Attractive to butterflies! This easy to grow cheerful flower provides large clusters of orange to reddish colored blooms along landscapes. Tolerates dry conditions. Annual”

Days to sprout: 14-21

Bloom Period: June-Frost

Since the seed packet doesn’t usually give a lot of helpful “how to grow” info if you have no idea what you are doing, I did a little googling.

This website suggests that Milkweed needs to go through a period of cold stratification. It is actually the most helpful site that I found in my quick googling so I’m going to follow their suggestions. A few things I learned:

  • Many varieties of Milkweed have a long tap root that should not be disturbed. They suggest using peat pots for this reason.
  • transplant out when plants are still small, less than 3 inches tall (because of that tap root).
  • apparently it is normal for the plant to lose all of its leaves after transplanting. The plant is building roots and will regrow its foliage after a bit. {This is a little concerning, so I’m going to have to keep this in mind, and cross my fingers that it doesn’t happen}
  • You should only have to water these just after transplanting to let them get established, and then after than only in periods of drought.

Okay, so Why grow Milkweed in the first place? For the Monarch Butterflies. According to the website saveourmonarchs.org the Monarch caterpillars only eat milkweed. Because of habitat destruction through development and spraying weeds in fields, Milkweed is fast disappearing. Thus Monarchs are fast disappearing.

Adult Monarchs do have a varied diet using other flowers as sources of nectar… It is the caterpillars that are facing the habitat loss.

From a more Canadian Perspective, Here is a link to Animal Facts on Monarchs from Canadian Geographic.

So this is what I’m going to do. I’ve put some seeds into a wet paper towel and I’m putting them in the fridge for a week or so. Then I will put them into seed starting mix in a large peat pot. I’ll start some not ‘cold-stratified’ seeds in the same sized peat pot at that time too. (I sowed/put seeds on paper towel into the fridge, on March 8th)

AND I will also be planting a few other wildflower mixes as well, but I’ll save that for another post.

I have done a little more googling since I first wrote the first part of this post. In some areas Milkweed is considered a noxious weed. So if you live in areas where this could easily self seed itself in areas outside of your growing area, maybe reconsider growing it. Check out information on your area and make your decision based on that. Please don’t blindly follow just one source on the internet. Find more, with different viewpoints and make your own decisions. I am going to still plant this. I don’t for see it escaping my yard. I might reconsider if I lived in a rural area with less containment. It is a choice, and it should be an informed one.

Front: Cold Stratified Seeds;    Back: Straight from the seed packet.


So, since I forgot to hit publish on this post when I first wrote it… As of March 29th, I have not noticed any difference between the cold stratified and the seeds straight out of the seed packet. The cold stratified ones are slightly behind, but there was about 10 days between when each was sowed into dirt. They are a little bit leggy, but I cannot adjust the height of my little grow light, so they are just doing their best.

Hot Peppers for 2017

On March 6, in the midst of a deep freeze outside, I finally gave in and stuck seeds into dirt. I decided to skip the Habaneros this year. I also cut out the Jalapenos again. They grew so well two years ago, but I found that I did not use them as much as I had planned. So I’m using the space I would have used on Jalapenos and add some more Cayenne, which will be dried and used as spice for food.

I sowed (on March 6th):

  • 6 peat pellets of ‘Long Red Cayenne Slim’
  • 2 peat pellets of ‘Kung Pao Hybrid’
  • 2 peat pellets of ‘Seranno’
  • 2 peat pellets of ‘Hungarian Wax’

The Serrano was the first to poke its head up, followed closely by the Hungarian Wax and Kung Pao…

Then nothing from the Cayenne. I waited until the 15, and still no sign of life. In the meantime, I added some of the seeds from the same packet into a wet paper towel with bottom heat (same as the peppers), and still nothing. Usually you can see the seeds plump up a bit, and start to send out their root within a few days. All of these seeds had nothing.

So I splurged on a new pack of seeds. I sowed them in 6 peat pellets on the 17th (Happy St. Patrick’s Day!). I kept my fingers crossed these new ones will germinate because the Cayenne is my favourite, and ultimately the most useful for me.

On the 27th, the new Cayenne had started sprouting. Finally! Out of the entire old pack of cayenne (including the germination test), 1 seed sprouted, out of at least 30. So disappointing! I’m glad that I bit the bullet and got the new pack. (This is also why I start my peppers and tomatoes a little early, so I have some time to play catch up with a new attempt)


(Still on the 27th…) The Serrano, Hungarian and Kung Pao are nearly ready to get potted up. They all have their first true leaves, so I will get to potting them up in the next few days. I’ll save that for it’s own update post.

Thank you, as always, for reading. If you have any tips/tricks or helpful advice share it in the comments.

PS. EXTRA Thank you! I just hit 50 likes on my Facebook page for this blog. Which is not that impressive, apart from I put almost zero effort into trying to get anyone to follow over there… I didn’t even send invites to everyone of my friends (just a few who I knew would give me some support). So if you have stumbled to my Facebook page for this blog and liked it… THANK YOU… but if you want to stumble your way over to the Facebook page, and hit “Like” if you haven’t already…I will do a literal happy dance. Every time a new post goes up here, It will be on that Facebook page, so if you don’t want to miss any of my ramblings, head over there, and it will tell you when something new is happening here.

I just made that way more complicated than it actually is.