This species-specific program runs from June-October each year.
Burpee collects local Monarch eggs and young larva that are in the mowing paths along roads and farm fence-lines. We then give these to you to raise for free! Save a baby monarch from a mowing and raise it in your home for free. Lear more here.
Join the movement.
Burpee Museum is encouraging everyone to have a patch of native plants in their yard. This season we are focusing on milkweed by providing seeds and information to the community. Join us!
Why Plant Milkweed?
Did you know milkweed is the only food source for the Monarch Butterfly’s larva? Planting milkweed is an excellent way to provide a food source for the larva, a nectar and food source for the adult butterflies of many species, and a beautiful native flower in your garden.
Please accept our free gift to you of milkweed seeds!
We have a bag of seeds collected locally ready to be planted. Thanks to a generous donor we were able to mail out seeds to our members. If you didn’t get them in the mail and would like to join our movement to plant more milkweed…stop by Burpee’s Visitor Services for your free envelop of seeds today!
Planting Milkweed Instructions
You can grow your milkweed plant from seeds, cuttings and from root divisions. Seeds can be planted in prepared beds outdoors, in flower gardens, around your mailbox, or even started indoors in flats.
Of course, germination rates will be higher indoors and it will be easier to establish transplanted seedings, but planting from seeds outside works as well.
When to Plant.
Your Milkweed seeds can be sown outdoors anytime after the danger of frost has passed. When you plant in the fall, you may not see any germination this season. In fact, it typically takes one full year for your seeds to become plants. (see cold treatment below).
Don’t worry if you don’t see any growth this fall, the seeds do better after a winter outside. In fact, Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed) and Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed) germinate poorly at high temperatures (>85˚F).
Where to Plant.
If you have a choice, light soils are better than those with heavy clay. Well-drained soils are generally best but there are some species, e.g. Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed), which do well in saturated conditions. Burpee is providing Asclepias syrica (common milkweed) which does better in a dry soil.
Most common milkweed evolved in open areas where they were exposed to full sunlight and they will do best if they are planted in the sunniest areas of your gardens.
Cold Treatment vs. Heat Shocking.
If you have the time, cold treatment is the way to go. This is the way nature takes care of her milkweed seeds. They fall from the plant in the autumn, sit through the frozen winter, and then germinate in the spring. Plant your seeds outdoors and allow one year for germination.
If you want to do this indoors, you can simulate nature and place the seeds in a refrigerator (33–38°F) for 60–90 days before sowing to see germination.
Heat Shocking Option: If you are short on time, heat shocking the seeds is another (though typically less reliable) method to increase germination rates of milkweed seeds. To heat shock the seeds, soak them in hot (120-130F) tap water for 12 hours, then drain and repeat three (3) times. Place the seeds in a plastic bag wrapped in a warm, damp paper towel for 24 hours.