Butterfly Weed Seed Pods Photo

Collect butterfly weed seeds from the garden is fun and easy. Follow these steps to learn how to harvest butterfly weed seeds for planting next year. Butterfly Weed Seed Pods Photo This photograph from Wikipedia speaks volumes to the importance of the milkweed. Asclepias tuberosa is a favored nesting site for the Monarch butterfly. At summers Enjoy a full field of flowers with butterfly weed seeds at Everwilde Farms! Our butterfly milkweed seeds can be planted in open fields or along roadsides.

How To Harvest Butterfly Weed Seeds

Butterfly weed seeds are one of the easiest types of seeds to collect from the garden. In this post, I will show how to harvest butterfly weed seeds from your garden step-by-step, and also show you how to store them for next year.

Butterfly weed is one of my favorite plants that I have growing in my garden. Not only does it add amazing color to the garden, the butterflies flock to it. Plus, it’s a host plant for everyone’s favorite monarch butterfly.

Collecting butterfly weed seeds is easy, and doesn’t take much effort – you just need to get the timing right.

So below I’ll show you how to tell when butterfly weed seeds are ready to harvest, how to gather them, and what to do with them after you’re done collecting them.

Butterfly weed flower growing in my garden

Table of Contents

Harvesting Butterfly Weed Seeds

Butterfly weed is also one of the easiest seeds to collect from the garden. After the flowers fade on the plant, butterfly weed gets these gorgeous seed pods.

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

Butterfly weed seed pods

When To Harvest Butterfly Weed Seeds

When the seeds are ready to be harvested, butterfly weed seed pods will turn brown and start to break open on their own.

The seeds have puffs of cotton attached to them, which allows them to fly in the wind and seed themselves all around the neighborhood.

So, make sure you collect the seeds as soon as the pods start to break open, or they may disappear on you.

Butterfly weed seeds ready to harvest

What Do Butterfly Weed Seeds Look Like

Butterfly weed seeds are flat, brown and shaped like a tear drop – and there are a ton of seeds in each seed pod.

Like I mentioned above, they are attached to white cotton, which can make the task of harvesting butterfly weed seeds a bit more tedious.

Butterfly weed seeds and chaff

How To Harvest Butterfly Weed Seeds Step-By-Step

Clip the seed pods off the plant and drop them into a container or bag. Don’t attempt to harvest butterfly weed seeds outside.

Otherwise every time the wind blows you’ll be chasing them down the street. Once you’ve collected the seed pods, bring them inside.

Collecting butterfly weed seed pods in a container

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.

Break open the seed pod to collect butterfly weed seeds

Then firmly grab the entire fuzzy clump and pull it out of the seed pod. Wait, don’t let go.

Gently pinch the seeds to tease them away from the fluffy stuff. It can be a messy job, so you might want to keep the vacuum on hand.

Collecting butterfly weed seeds can be messy

What To Do With Butterfly Weed Seeds After Harvesting

You can plant butterfly weeds seeds as soon as you harvest them, or you can store them for planting next year. Allow the seeds to dry out completely before storing them.

You can store your seeds in a plastic container (film canisters are the perfect size!), paper bag or seed envelope until spring.

I like to use a plastic shoe box to organize my seeds, or you can use a Seed Keeper.

Where To Find Butterfly Weed Seeds For Sale

It can be difficult to find butterfly weed seeds for sale, but many garden centers should carry them starting in mid-winter through early spring.

Otherwise you can always buy butterfly weed seeds online. Here are some great, quality seeds to get you started… Butterfly Weed Seeds.

If you want to learn how to grow your own seeds for your garden indoors, then my Starting Seeds Indoors eBook is perfect for you! It’s a quick-start guide that will have you growing your own seeds indoors in no time. Download your copy now!

More Posts About Saving Seeds

Share your tips for how to harvest butterfly weed seeds in the comments section below.

About Amy Andrychowicz

I live and garden in Minneapolis, MN (zone 4b). My green thumb comes from my parents, and I’ve been gardening most of my life. I’m a passionate gardener who loves growing everything from vegetables, herbs, and flowers to succulents, tropicals, and houseplants – you name, I’ve grown it! Read More.

Comments

I have a question. I was gifted with a bag of seed pods. They are still green. Can I leave them in the paper bag and will they dry out and be ready for planting? Sorry to be so dumb. I’m ;hoping they will dry out and I will be able to have wonderful butterfly bushes galore….to go along with my crocosmia plants.

Amy Andrychowicz says

If the pods are still green, then the butterfly weed seeds might not be viable. But it’s worth a try. If you have several of them, I would try cutting open a few of the green ones, removing the seeds, and letting those dry out. Then I would also try drying a few of the seed pods until they turn brown and brittle, then open them to collect the seeds. Good luck!

Steve Cochran says

I purchased Butterfly Weed seeds from the Seed Savers, and had them flower & produce seed pods their first year. Lookin forward to harvesting seeds and propagating this beautiful plant.

Amy Andrychowicz says

Wow, your butterfly weed plants flowered AND produced seed pods the first year after planting the seeds? That is amazing! Have fun collecting them for next year.

Thank you for the information on how to harvest butterfly weed seeds! Have a beautiful orange plant and want more!

Amy Andrychowicz says

You’re welcome! The seeds are very easy to collect (as long as you get to them before the wind does, LOL!). Enjoy!

Susan Sapp says

So I have cuttings from a butterfly weed perennial. I was hoping to be able to repurpose the flower or stem to plant in my garden at home. Am I out of luck? Will I have to buy the seeds to plant in the fall?

See also  Low Thc Weed Seeds

Amy Andrychowicz says

I have never tried rooting the cuttings myself, but I believe it is possible. Dust them with rooting hormone and stick them into soil. Keep the air humid, and the soil slightly moist. Otherwise, if you can get a butterfly weed seed pod from the same plant this fall, then you’ll have the seeds as a backup. Good luck!

Barbara Murray says

I successfully planted a piece of orange butterfly weed last year. A small seedling, really just one small stem, grew from a seed that must have blown from my big plant. I have several of these small seedlings around my yard now, but never had any luck transplanting them. Last Fall I tried to transplant just for the heck of it, and finally a new plant came up this summer! It got quite a bit larger and bloomed beautifully, and I’m hoping it comes back next year.

If the milkweed bugs are now on my plants, does that mean the seeds I can see are no good?

Amy Andrychowicz says

Unfortunately milkweed bugs do feed on the seed pods and the seeds too. But if your butterfly weed seed pods and/or the seeds aren’t damaged, then they should be fine.

When do you plant the seeds in NE Ohio?

Amy Andrychowicz says

You can plant them either in the fall (directly in the garden) or early spring (either directly in the garden or indoors). They would also work with the winter sowing method, if you want to experiment with that.

Kyle R. Crocker says

I have a containerized butterfly plant that has done wonderfully this summer, and has many pods now. My worry . . . In northern Minnesota, frost is coming by later October. The pods are yet green and firm. I’d like to harvest ripened pods before I transplant the parent. This is a risk. Any advice?

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

Amy Andrychowicz says

I would just leave the pods on your butterfly weed plant until they ripen. I don’t think transplanting it would make a difference. Also, butterfly weed plants are super hardy, so frost won’t hurt the plant or the seed pods.

I read somewhere that if you bring the seeds inside they need to be kept cold for an extended period of time to mimic winter conditions. So you know how cold or for how long?

Amy Andrychowicz says

I don’t think that butterfly weed seeds need cold stratification in order to germinate, but many other types of milkweed do. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to do it for your butterfly weed seeds though. You can just put them in a container the fridge for about a month, and that should do the trick.

Hi!
So first dry them out on a paper towel, then put them in fridge for a month, and then plant indoors in early spring?

Amy Andrychowicz says

Yep, that should work.

Dot Zimmerman says

How deep do you plant the seed? How many seed per area?

Amy Andrychowicz says

You don’t need to plant them very deep. The rule of thumb for planting seeds is to plant them twice as deep as the seed is wide. I would plant butterfly weed seeds maybe 1/4″ to 1/2″ deep. I would space them 2-3 inches apart, and then thin them so they are about 12-16″ apart once the seedlings start to mature. You can also just spread the seeds over the top of the dirt if you don’t want to be fussy about it. That’s the way Mother Nature does it.

Dot Zimmerman says

Patti Golliher says

Thank you for posting this information. I love attracting butterflys to my garden. I noticed the seed pods on my butterfly weed plant yesterday; I am excited to harvest the seeds so I can plant more plants next year.

Amy Andrychowicz says

Awesome! You’re welcome. Butterfly weed seeds are super easy to collect and grow. Have fun!

Susan CLARK says

Can the seeds be frozen to plant after I move to a new home?

Amy Andrychowicz says

Sure, but you don’t need to freeze your butterfly seeds to store them. It certainly wouldn’t hurt them though.

Amanda Hemmer says

Hello!
I just planted a monarch butterfly garden this spring and my butterfly weed turned out great! I noticed the seed pods and luckily found this website. The pods on one of the plants turned brown and I noticed one had started to crack open on the side. I assumed this meant it was ready for the seeds to be harvested. However, when I split open the pod what appeared to be the seed pods were white and there was no white fuzziness on the inside …. I’m worried I picked them too soon! Is there anything I can do to help them become healthy seeds?

Amanda Hemmer says

The seeds are white not seed pod, my bad!

Betty White says

It the seeds are white, why is the seeds shown on here, with the fluffy stuff, brown?

Amy Andrychowicz says

Butterfly weed seed are white first, and they turn brown as they mature. The white seeds are not mature enough to grow, so don’t harvest them until they turn brown.

Amy Andrychowicz says

Yes, unfortunately it does sound like you harvested your butterfly weed seeds too soon. It’s weird that the seed pods were brown and cracking open before the seeds were mature. Are there any other pods on the plant? If so, wait until the pods open up and the white cotton is starting to stick out before harvesting them. Otherwise, I think you’ll have to wait until next year. You could try planting the seeds you have and see if they’ll grow though, you never know.

Mike the Gardener says

Awesome post! I always love reading posts on how to harvest/save seeds from a variety of plants that grow. A big one around here is milkweed. Milkweed seeds themselves are very expensive, which is weird because it grows in abundance along roadways here in NJ.

Amy Andrychowicz says

Thanks Mike! Yes, that is weird. They get tons of seeds too, and grow like a weed.

Betty White says

I have the orange butterfly flowers (weed) but I have never seen any pods come on mine. They have stopped blooming but I have never seen any pods. (Ohio) I am going out and check now but just looked at them a few days ago and no pods. WOW what a surprise. There is several little ones on the one plant and one larger one on the other. I have another plant in another part of my yard and I will check them. So how long should I leave the pods on the plant? The larger one is yellow but the other ones that are real small, are green.

See also  Sexing Weed Seeds

Amy Andrychowicz says

Woohoo, how exciting! It can take a few months for butterfly weed seed pods to mature. They will turn brown and split open once the seeds are ready to harvest.

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Butterfly Weed Seed Pods Photo

This photograph from Wikipedia speaks volumes to the importance of the milkweed. Asclepias tuberosa is a favored nesting site for the Monarch butterfly. At summers end, the wild plants we have growing at the shop will be covered with their larvae. The Monarch larvae feed on these leaves. The butterfly weed is a favored host in my area. They will spin cocoons; the mature butterflies will emerge some four weeks, give or take. Only once have I witnessed a mature butterfly emerging from its chrysalis-it happens that fast.

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.

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.

But the white fluff inside is what interests me the most. Each butterfly weed seed is firmly affixed to its own white silky and fluffy airplane. These white silky hairs catch the wind, and aid in the dispersal of the seed.

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.

From Wikipedia: The milkweed filaments from the follicles are hollow and coated with wax, and have good insulation qualities. As of 2007, milkweed is grown commercially as a hypoallergenic filling for pillows. This commercial use does not interest me as much as how the butterfly weed seeds itself. A milkweed seed with its virtually weightless attendant white fluff is a little and subtle miracle I never tire of. Every year, the marvel of it enchants me.

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.

Any landscape designers best ally is what comes from the natural world. All it takes is a lot of observation, and then some serious thought. As my friend and colleague Susan Cohan says, art does not necessarily have to work. No artwork needs a white silky airplane to be. A work of art lives independent of time,conditions, and circumstance. Good landscape design is a craft, in that every moment needs to assess the conditions, fire up,and fly.

The milkweed seeds about to fly is a day in the gardening season I look forward to. I would hope these plants would find a foothold in many places. I like that the Monarch butterfly feeds and reproduces on a plant that has a plan to not only enable these beautiful creatures, but reproduce.

Much of gardening is about the physical issues. The dirt, the water, the drainage, the weather, the maintenance, the beginning, and the ending. But there are those singular moments that float.

There is a day every gardening season when I make the effort to launch the asclepias seeds. It feels good to think I am doing my part.

Do these seeds need me? No. Nature saw to this efficient dispersal long before I ever took up a trowel. But I do it anyway. This white fluff I put in the air makes me feel good.

Butterfly Weed Seeds

Sowing: In late fall, direct sow butterfly milkweed seeds just below the surface. Germination will take place in the spring, after the last frost. When the seedlings appear, thin to the strongest plant; seedlings usually do not survive transplanting, since they resent any disturbance of their roots. For spring planting, mix the seeds with moist sand and refrigerate for 30 days before direct sowing.

Growing: Young butterfly milkweed plants should be watered until they become established; mature plants can tolerate drought, and the roots will be damaged by excessively wet soil. This plant grows slowly, and it may take 2-3 years to produce flowers. Though not invasive, this plant will eventually spread if left to drop its seed. The flowers attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Deer avoid this plant. If aphids become a problem, dislodge them from the plant with a strong stream of water.

Harvesting: This makes a striking cut flower. Because the stems contain no milky sap, these flowers tend to have a longer vase life than most milkweed varieties. Cut the stems long, choosing flowers that have just opened.

Seed Saving: After the plant finishes flowering, 3-4″ narrow pods will form. Be sure to harvest butterfly milkweed pods before they split and the silky fluff carries the seeds away on the wind. As soon as the seeds inside the pod ripen to their mature brown color, remove the pods and spread them out to dry. Split open the pods and take out the silky seed material. Remove the fluff from the seeds. Store the seeds in a cool, dry place.

FAST FACTS

Common Names: Pleurisy Root, Orange Milkweed

Latin Name: Asclepias tuberosa

Species Origin: US Native Wildflower

Type: Native Wildflowers

Life Cycle: Perennial

USDA Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

US Regions: Arid/Desert, Plains/Texas, Midwest, Northern, Northeast, Southeast

Seeds per Ounce: 4,200

Stratification: Cold/Wet for 4 Weeks

Germination Ease: Stratify 4 Weeks

Sunlight: Full Sun, Part Sun

Height: 24 Inches

Color: Orange

Bloom Season: Blooms Early Summer, Blooms Late Summer

Uses: Attracts Pollinators, Attracts Honeybees, Attracts Butterflies, Hummingbirds, Deer Resistant

not the time yet

How can a review a little seed I just planted 2 days ago? It came quickly and looked fine.

butterfly

looking forward to butterflies in my backyard

Love them

I just got my seeds. Loved the packaging and the helpful info.

See also  Pulling Weeds And Planting Seeds

Quick service

Seeds mailed the next business day and arrives in good condition. Many thanks!

Easy Milkweed!

Every year or two I get a packet of Milkweed seeds from Everwilde to supplement my stand of Milkweed. Their seeds are productive and true to their labeling of Asclepius tuberosa. Easy growth. Plenty of pollinators. Good value.

Good first year growth

I planted these late spring, and still got some good growth. At the end of summer, they’re starting to look pretty hardy. I even got a couple blooms, which is uncommon for first-year butterfly weed. I even found a couple monarch caterpillars hanging around!

Hope they grow here

Love the packaging. I won’t plant these until late-fall/early-winter and then won’t know until next year.

Excellent Seeds!

These butterfly weed seeds germinate like crazy! Even tough they require a cold stratification period, I did an experiment to see if they would germinate without it. They started to sprout in 24 hours! They are in small pots now growing steadily.

Seeds

I’m really satisfied with Everwilde. They shipped faster than I knew a company could. Seems like I ordered one night and got my seeds two days later. I’ll use them again and recommend them to my friends. Could someone from everwilde contact me on the best way to keep the butterfly milkweed seed until next spring or can they be planted now and come back next year. Thanks so much for everything.

Seed packet

Haven’t sown the seeds yet.

Great service and product

Received order in three days. Germination rate of A tuberosa seeds is exceptional even without stratification. Everwilde is my go-to source for these seeds.

Thank you for the great seeds and how they are packaged.

Wonderful seeds. Hard to get other places. The package tell you everything you need to know for successful planting.

Butterfly weed

Super fast delivery, happy with the purchase.

First purchase; impressive packaging!

Title says it all.

Great company

Fantastic packaging. Use them all time. Quality super.

Fast service. Very pleased.

Butterfly weed seed

I am very pleased with the seeds that I got from Everwilde Farms. I haven’t had much success growing plants from seeds. However the seeds I got from Everwilde have sprouted and are growing into plants. These plants will make a beautiful addition to my Butterfly garden. I will continue to purchase seeds from Everwilde Farms.

seeds

came in a short time

Cool packaging

As I type, I’m stratifying these seeds in the fridge.. Also purchased the “showy” variety, looking forward to the colors!

well packaged

Seeds arrived well packaged.Should be high germination rate. Super pleased.

Monarch mania

Thanks for the prompt shipment! Seeds are planted and I can’t wait for the plants to mature!

Butterfly Weed Seeds

Thank you Everwilde I am so pleased with your products and services. I have been using your farms for a few years and recommend you to all my friends. Fast service, great varieties, excellent seed packets and very good results when planted!!

Very good

Fast shipping. The plants have not sprouted yet but it is not the season.

Stratification

Planting now (Nov.) so they can stratify for next year. Looking forward to a nice treat next year or later.

Fast Service

I received my seed very quickly and the packets came with detailed instructions/resources on how to start your seedling, milkweed being a little different than most.

DESCRIPTION

IN-STOCK ORDERS SHIP THE NEXT BUSINESS DAY VIA THE US POST OFFICE.

One of the most striking of native plants, Butterfly Weed lights up the prairies with its blazing orange flowers. Monarch Butterflies thrive on this plant, so it is a must for any butterfly garden on sandy soil. Butterfly milkweed seed thrives in rocky or sandy soil, typically in open fields or along roadsides.

Butterfly Weed, one of the most striking of native plants, lights up the prairies with its blazing orange flowers. Butterfly milkweed seed thrives in rocky or sandy soil, typically in open fields or along roadsides. One of its common names, pleurisy root, refers to an old remedy for lung ailments that contained this plant. At one time, the silk from Butterfly Weed seed pods was spun for fabric or used for stuffing pillows; in World War II, school children gathered the silk to provide a cheap filling for soldiers’ life jackets. Commercial attempts to make use of this abundant plant included the manufacture of paper, fabric, lubricant, fuel, and rubber; eventually these became impractical and were abandoned. Though this plant is toxic to most animals, butterflies are immune to the plant’s poison and actually become rather poisonous themselves as protection from predators.

HOW TO GROW

Sowing: In late fall, direct sow butterfly milkweed seeds just below the surface. Germination will take place in the spring, after the last frost. When the seedlings appear, thin to the strongest plant; seedlings usually do not survive transplanting, since they resent any disturbance of their roots. For spring planting, mix the seeds with moist sand and refrigerate for 30 days before direct sowing.

Growing: Young butterfly milkweed plants should be watered until they become established; mature plants can tolerate drought, and the roots will be damaged by excessively wet soil. This plant grows slowly, and it may take 2-3 years to produce flowers. Though not invasive, this plant will eventually spread if left to drop its seed. The flowers attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Deer avoid this plant. If aphids become a problem, dislodge them from the plant with a strong stream of water.

Harvesting: This makes a striking cut flower. Because the stems contain no milky sap, these flowers tend to have a longer vase life than most milkweed varieties. Cut the stems long, choosing flowers that have just opened.

Seed Saving: After the plant finishes flowering, 3-4″ narrow pods will form. Be sure to harvest butterfly milkweed pods before they split and the silky fluff carries the seeds away on the wind. As soon as the seeds inside the pod ripen to their mature brown color, remove the pods and spread them out to dry. Split open the pods and take out the silky seed material. Remove the fluff from the seeds. Store the seeds in a cool, dry place.

FAST FACTS

Common Names: Pleurisy Root, Orange Milkweed

Latin Name: Asclepias tuberosa

Species Origin: US Native Wildflower

Type: Native Wildflowers

Life Cycle: Perennial

USDA Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

US Regions: Arid/Desert, Plains/Texas, Midwest, Northern, Northeast, Southeast

Seeds per Ounce: 4,200

Stratification: Cold/Wet for 4 Weeks

Germination Ease: Stratify 4 Weeks

Sunlight: Full Sun, Part Sun

Height: 24 Inches

Color: Orange

Bloom Season: Blooms Early Summer, Blooms Late Summer

Uses: Attracts Pollinators, Attracts Honeybees, Attracts Butterflies, Hummingbirds, Deer Resistant