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butterfly weed seed pods photo

Leave the bucket outdoors for two or three days to let the fluff blow away. Stir the seeds occasionally to loosen more fluff. Do not worry if some of the fluff remains, since it won’t inhibit the germination process.

Before you begin to harvest the butterfly weed pods, sterilize your cutting tools. Dip the blades into a full-strength household cleanser, such as Lysol or Pine-Sol. Repeat between cuts to prevent the spread of diseases.

Gather the butterfly weed seeds in late summer or autumn, once the pods dry to a light, rosy-beige color, but before they split open. Put on rubber gloves before handling the pods to protect your hands from the mildly toxic sap.

Water the butterfly weed seeds whenever the compost feels barely damp when pressed. Apply the water by the spoonful or use a spray bottle to keep from dislodging the seeds.

Snip off the pod using pruning shears. Slice lengthwise along the edge using a utility knife. Pry open the seed pods. Scoop out the seeds and fluffy matter inside and place it in a bucket.

P.S. I have already gathered Marsh Milkweed from the wild, nearly a month ago.

Amy Andrychowicz says

Susan CLARK says

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Amy Andrychowicz says

Susan Sapp says

If you want to collect butterfly weed seeds from your garden, allow the seed pods to dry on the plant.

Like I said, it can be a bit tedious to harvest butterfly weed seeds, because of the fine fluffy stuff that’s attached to the seeds. So start by breaking open the seed pod.

Once the seeds begin to ripen, the pods will split along their length.

Our local fields and meadows are full of the remains of the milkweed pods come November. They have an elegantly spare and ruggedly persistent shape.

Once those seeds emerge, that fluff is everywhere. It will stick to your hands, your clothes, your shoes, your trowel, and your wheelbarrow. An individual seed is large, and relatively speaking, heavy. How this plant has evolved to insure that these big seeds get dispersed is but one of countless stories engineered by nature. I have had occasion to design and install fairly complex landscapes, but this design and execution is beyond compare.

Asclepias has much to recommend. The plants are long lived, utterly drought resistant, and carefree. The flower heads of asclepias tuberosa are orange and gorgeous. Asclepias incarnata has flower heads that are a quiet shade of dusky rose. But my main interest in them is the seed pods. The pods are large, ovate, and a compelling shade of bluish green. In late summer, this green phase dominates the plants.

How plants set seed is an event any gardener would appreciate. How the milkweeds insure the survival of their seed is nothing short of miraculous.