We can all help our local butterfly and bee population by planting native nectar-rich plants and plants that serve as a host for butterfly larva. Butterfly Milkweed is an excellent plant to attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds due to its nectar-rich orange blossoms. The Milkweed also acts as a larval host plant for butterflies.Asclepias tuberosa is a species of milkweed which is native to eastern North America. It is a perennial plant that grows to a height of 0.3-0.7m(1 to 2 feet) tall, with clustered orange and yellow flowers, from early summer to early fall.
Butterfly Milkweed grows well in dry fields and banks and is very drought tolerant. The plant does not like to be moved, once established, however, you can divide the rootstalk in early spring or fall, or start from seed.
If starting from seed, it is best to plant in the spring, after cold stratifying the seeds for 30 to 40 days.
Once cold stratified, sow the seed 1/16” deep, tap the soil and lightly mulch the seed bed.
If starting seeds without cold stratification, plant in the fall for germination the following spring.
How to Cold stratify Butterfly Milkweed seed:
Stratification is the process of mimicking the natural over-wintering process by exposing the seeds to cool, moist conditions. The easiest way to undertake the stratification process is:
1) Take a few handfuls of peat moss and soak it in water until it is saturated 2) After soaking, use your hands to squeeze out as much water as possible 3) Place a layer of the moist peat moss in the bottom of a zip-lock plastic sandwich bag 4) Place the milkweed seeds on the layer and fill the rest of the bag with the peat moss 5) Seal the bag closed 6) Store the sealed bag in the bottom of the refrigerator for 30 to 40 days.
During the cold stratification process, occasionally check the seeds for signs of early germination. If the seeds begin to germinate in the refrigerator, remove them and plant as normal.
After the prescribed stratification time in the refrigerator, remove the seeds and sow them in the normal manner. Be sure to not plant the seed too deep.
Sow the Butterfly Milkweed seed to a depth of 1/16“ (1.6 Millimeters) deep, tap the soil and lightly mulch the seed bad.