How to Plant & Grow Milkweed
Milkweed is an herbaceous perennial plant native to North America. The plant is commonly found growing in open fields, pastures and prairies. Gardener's have recently taken an interest in milkweed plants, as the flowers that appear throughout summer are known to attract butterflies. Growing milkweed is easy, as the plant basically takes care of itself once established. Seeds must be sown indoors, however, under the correct conditions for the plant to thrive.
Start milkweed seeds indoors 8 to 12 weeks before the last frost in your area. Fill cell packs with high-quality seed-starting soil mix and drop three to four milkweed seeds per cell over the surface of the soil. Cover the seeds with a quarter-inch of soil and water thoroughly.
Place the cell pack tray in a sunny window or under grow lights if necessary. Keep the temperature at 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit constantly for best results. Keep the soil moist by watering every other day. Germination will occur in approximately 10 days.
Continue to care for the milkweed seedlings by keeping them in a sunny window or beneath grow lights, keeping the temperature as close to 75 degrees Fahrenheit as possible and providing water approximately once per week to keep the soil moist but not soggy.
Transplant the milkweed seedlings outdoors after the last frost when they have grown to about 3 inches with at least four true leaves. Choose a planting location that receives full sunlight for most of the day and has moist, well-drained soil. Space 1 to 2 feet apart to allow adequate room for growth.
Water your milkweed plants only during times of drought, or when two weeks have passed without any natural rainfall. Apply a 1- to 2-inch layer of mulch around plants once they've reached 6 inches in height to help conserve moisture. Other than that, milkweed is completely self-sufficient and requires no supplemental fertilizing or pruning.
If cell packs are not available, use shallow trays filled with seed-starting soil mix and space the seeds about 1 to 2 inches apart.
Use a light mulch such as grass clippings or straw for mulching milkweed.
Prevent the unwanted spreading of milkweed by cutting immature seed pods and discarding them before they mature.
- If cell packs are not available, use shallow trays filled with seed-starting soil mix and space the seeds about 1 to 2 inches apart.
- Use a light mulch such as grass clippings or straw for mulching milkweed.
- Prevent the unwanted spreading of milkweed by cutting immature seed pods and discarding them before they mature.
- Cell packs
- Seed starting soil mix
- Milkweed seeds
- Grow lights (optional)
- Butler University: Common Milkweed
- “Illinois Gardener's Guide;” James A. Fizzell; 2002