Even though I focus a lot on growing cut flowers, every so often, it’s nice to focus on pollinators. While I’ve heard that some people grow milkweed for use in cut flowers, I personally don’t. The actual milkweed plant contains some pretty toxic sap which can cause all kinds of complications if it comes in contact with skin. I’d rather not take any kind of risks for cut flower bouquets, so I grow this solely for the monarch butterflies.
While pollinator gardens are exciting for attracting all kinds of beneficial bees and flying things, growing milkweed is great because it serves as a host plant for the monarch butterfly larvae. The larvae feed on the host plant, which in turn, makes them toxic. Or at least, that’s how I understand it. At the base level, I’m just a person with a backyard. Much of the knowledge that I pass along here comes directly from sources online. For this reason, I always suggest doing your own research before planting new flowers. There’s so much out there to learn!
Winter sowing milkweed is a great way to get some really healthy seedlings for transplant in the fall. There are actually several types of milkweed, but I usually gravitate towards the perennial cold hardy variety which is most commonly labelled as “butterfly milkweed”. The process of winter sowing milkweed works so well because it does seem to be one of those seeds which needs a little bit of cold stratification before it will finally germinate. Even though I’ve been able to start these seeds indoors in the past, the germination rate is much better when allowed to chill in milk jugs with the winter sowing method.
Here’s hoping that we’ll have even more milkweed seedlings to transplant into the landscape when spring finally arrives.