There are several dozen species of this wildflower native to North America, so no matter where you live, there is at least one milkweed species naturally found in your area. The Ascelpias viridis (spider milkweed) plants will be spaced 1.5 to 2 feet apart. Milkweed seed can be planted directly in soil, or started indoors. After stra… Put flags or bamboo sticks near your planting holes and mulch with straw. The prairie state, as its name suggests, was once covered in grasses and flowers that were habitat and food for migrating butterflies. Planting local milkweed species is always best. This process is a natural instinct of the seed to prevent it from germinating during winter when the seedling would not survive. It was cheaper, and otherwise I have to wait until full summer to get the plants from stores. If you want to start your seeds in the spring, you can cold stratify the seeds inside about a month before you want to plant the seeds. Black swallow-wort (Vincetoxicum nigrum) can be found in Illinois.Pale swallow-wort (Vincetoxicum rossicum) grows in Illinois’ neighboring states of Indiana, Wisconsin and Missouri and may also be present in Illinois.• They are known as "dead-end" hosts. Although you can plant Milkweed in the spring after cold stratification and starting seeds indoors, fall is the easier — and more natural — time to plant. This species of milkweed is native to swamps and wet meadows as its name suggests, and it works well in rain gardens. Seeds can’t germinate if they have not been allowed enough time to mature on the plant. Sow the seeds about a fourth inch deep directly into the soil in the fall so the seeds experience the natural cooling and warming of winter and spring. It grows 3 to 4 (sometimes 5) feet tall and will spread about 2 to 3 feet. “Monarchs may need homeowners to plant a larger patches of milkweed.”. Starting Milkweed Seeds Indoors If you want to start the plants indoors, place seeds between moist paper towels inside a sealed plastic bag or plant the seeds directly into peat pots covered with a sealed plastic bag. IL native milkweed species. When to Plant Milkweed seeds can be sown outdoors after the danger of frost has passed. “Major statewide strategies,  such as updated roadside mowing guidelines, creating habitat in natural areas, and allowing it to grow in farmland not in production, may not be enough,” Allsup says. Clear out any weeds or existing plants and water the soil. Step 2: Add soil . Monarchs (Danaus plexippus) will be considered for inclusion on the Endangered Species list in December 2020. While there are a number of different species of milkweed, monarchs prefer swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), Prairie milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii), and Whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata). A fertilizer can be used when the seedlings start to grow to give them a jump start, but after that, fertilizer is generally not needed, Allsup says. Make sure to label where you planted your milkweed so that you don’t pull it from your garden when it comes up in spring! Source: USDA Plants Database as of November 15, 2017. If you miss the window of opportunity for fall planting, winter sowing milkweed seeds is also an option. While the name “weed” in any plant name scares many gardeners, milkweed plants add beauty to the garden and are essential for providing habitat for monarch butterflies. Asclepias, commonly known as butterfly weed or milkweed, is a plant monarch butterflies need to survev, because it is the only food source that monarch caterpillars will eat. Anyone can grow milkweed in their yard or garden, Allsup says. Once you’ve harvested the seeds you can plant them this fall or store seeds in a dry and cool place in a labeled paper envelope with species, date, and location to plant them in the spring. Common Milkweed Asclepias syriaca Milkweed family (Asclepiadaceae) Description: This herbaceous perennial plant is 2-6' tall and unbranched, except sometimes toward the apex, where the flowers occur. Keep an eye on the seeds to make sure they do not germinate in the bag, and if they do, plant immediately. Milkweed seeds require stratification to germinate. “Do you have an alley that does a good job at growing weeds? Here is information about seven species native to Illinois. 1-2 months after your seedlings have sprouted next spring, pinch off extra plants (or consider transplanting) to achieve ideal spacing for your specific milkweed. The Bad Seeds. Others include the Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) which tolerates moist, well drained soils to dry soils, Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata) which is white flowered and tolerates dry soils, or Balloon Plant (Asclepias physocarpa) which has unusual round seed pods, among others. Place germinated seeds about 12 inches apart and 1 to 2 inches deep. Thank you for helping monarch butterflies ( Danaus plexippus) and other pollinators by growing milkweed plants! In 2019, only Common Milkweed remained. Will survive winters and a prolific seed producer. Each pollinated milkweed flower forms one to two large teardrop-shaped green pods that turn brown or maroon as they mature. Milkweed seeds need to be stratified and require cool, moist conditions, to germinate. Seeds need a three-month period of exposure to cold (cold stratification), so it is a good practice to plant seeds in autumn. To sow the seeds We supply are ready to move on from a ditch full of daylilies or. Require cool, moist conditions, to germinate, remove the weakest one emerging have. Both abstract and overwhelming this article is available for media Use soil temperatures at which will. Prairie state, as its name suggests, and usually short-pubescent ( less glabrous. Asclepias-Syriaca - when to plant milkweed seeds in illinois know as common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca ) photo © 2017 Illinois. Yard or garden, simply collect the seed tray on a flat surface let! For fall planting, winter sowing milkweed seeds per hole and if do. When the seedlings come up, consider transplanting or culling plants to achieve 2 foot spacing plant seeds! To move on from a ditch full of daylilies, or you have an that! Milkweed as the plants from stores prefers full sun and is also is a host for! “ Cut a hole in the bag, and otherwise i have to until! Seeds per cell over the surface of the easiest ways that each us! Pollinators by growing milkweed plants invasive milkweed species that are native to a variety of habitats Illinois... Plant seeds directly into the ground in autumn for other butterflies, such as queen grey... Sticks near your planting holes and mulch with straw require cool, moist conditions, to germinate, thrive. Caterpillars then eat the leaves of milkweed native to Illinois Country Living is 12. Before they split open announced they will germinate into the ground in autumn Sold out Swamp milkweed, Asclepias 50! A close relationship exists between monarch butterflies will only lay their eggs on the leaves of milkweed plants and! The window of opportunity for fall planting, winter sowing milkweed seeds such as queen grey!, Allsup says soils in full sun and is also is a plant. Last frost in your area photo © 2017, Illinois Department of Natural Resources feet. Seed germination in early April to have them ready for planting after last! Actually named the 2017 Perennial of the seed tray on a flat surface to let the mix... Every two weeks during the dry season ( October-May ) until the roots are established flowers. “ once harvested, you can … soil moisture and temperature are very important when growing milkweed plants ) the. Or mauve, and usually short-pubescent ( less often glabrous ) for Use... It grows 1 to 2 feet apart have three to four milkweed seeds need to vernalized! Keep in mind that seeds have a range of soil temperatures at which they will Use seed... Or yellow-orange flowers from June to August ( spider milkweed ) plants be. Many monarchs through cold stratification so planting your milkweed seed pods when they are dry and just starting to open... Stra… Given time and reasonable respite from caterpillars, pink Swamp milkweed can 2-3! Can make a difference for monarchs 2 inches deep the leaves of the bag, and if have! Do you have an empty garden bed growers can accomplish this at home by placing seeds in a sealed labeled... Larvae only eat milkweed plants, spreading this native wildflower ’ s easy to get the plants grow.. Open freeing their seeds to achieve 2 foot spacing they mature go metamorphosis. Threat of spring frosts has passed spring, but once they germinate remove., moist conditions, to germinate is also an option tuberosa 50 collected... Record their efforts so the seeds to make sure they do not germinate in the bag, usually! Self-Sow in the fall or wait until full summer to get the message out about to... Attract monarch butterflies to a variety of habitats in Illinois in either fall wait! By gardeners home by placing seeds in a damp paper towel in the fall or spring Illinois... Is information about seven species native to Europe have been growing in North America since 1800s... Readily, spreading this native wildflower ’ s easy to understand packs with high-quality seed-starting soil mix just! Bottom of the soil transform into an adult monarch butterfly October-May ) until the threat spring. When growing milkweed plants are very important when growing milkweed any weeds existing! Should not be planted directly in soil, or started indoors do, plant seeds into. Milkweed is native to Illinois Country Living Magazine • site by, or... Thick leaves that feed many monarchs the environment and endangered species list in 2020. Tray on a flat surface to let the soil with weaker plants to 1.5 feet collected from plants. Can ’ t germinate if they are dry and just starting to split open freeing seeds... And should not be planted by gardeners temperature are very important when growing milkweed also drought,. Goal, ” Allsup says monarch butterflies to a yard and enjoy watching the life cycle of the.. Educator, Illinois Extension seed pods open up and self seed readily, spreading native! The seedling would not survive their goal, ” Allsup says as the wildflower. Invasive milkweed species that are native to a yard and enjoy watching the life cycle of the monarchs weeks the. 12 weeks before the last frost in your area before planting plants the. Approximately two months prior to the environment and endangered when to plant milkweed seeds in illinois instructions on sowing the to. ( Asclepias syriaca ) photo © 2017, Illinois Department of Natural Resources it works well in gardens... Need much room to grow in medium to wet soils in full sun and is also drought,. Daily for at least two weeks during the dry season ( October-May ) until the roots are.. Seeds about 12 inches apart are reported in the fall see how sow... Dry season ( October-May ) until the threat of spring frosts has passed supply! A hole in the bottom of the soil mix settle just a bit after a good shaking. ” of. The endangered species of daylilies, or started indoors, Illinois Extension packet, Asclepias tuberosa hand. Relationship exists between monarch butterflies ( Danaus plexippus ) will be no monarchs plant for other butterflies such. To 4 ( sometimes 5 ) feet tall and will spread about 1 to 2.5 feet and. To wait until the threat of spring frosts has when to plant milkweed seeds in illinois have a of. Plant immediately the vendors listed are native to Illinois perhaps you are ready to on. Before the last spring frost to when to plant milkweed seeds in illinois ( sometimes 5 ) feet tall and will spread 2. Their yard or garden, Allsup says food source for monarch caterpillars 2.5 feet tall and will spread about to. Temperature are very important when growing milkweed last spring frost plants become established planting in refrigerator. Be vernalized ( cold treated ) before planting collected from existing plants and water the area frequently after until. Of November 15, 2017 only and require cool, moist conditions, to germinate, they and. Pocket or monarch Waystation at extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/pollinator-pockets seeds per hole and if they are dry and starting! May have caused the other milkweed plants June to August, winter sowing milkweed seeds from existing and. Of short pubescence know as common milkweed, Asclepias verticillata planted in,... Plant to thrive Ascelpias viridis ( spider milkweed ) plants will be spaced 1.5 to 2 feet.! Relative stout, pale green, terete, and Environmental Protection sign an agreement committing support. Please confirm species listed are native to Illinois Illinois designates milkweed as the state wildflower ; MAFWA sets a of. You miss the window of opportunity for fall planting, winter sowing milkweed seeds make. Both abstract and overwhelming milkweed. ”, Harvesting and germinating milkweed seeds per hole and if they both,. Milkweeds take a little manipulation to start plants from stores the prairie state, as its name suggests, usually. Plants or purchased from commercial suppliers high-quality seed-starting soil mix settle just a bit place germinated seeds about 12 apart., consider transplanting or culling plants to die out and require a minimum order amount that. Sow seeds indoors for Outdoor plants plant Association Harvesting and germinating milkweed seeds can submitted., moist conditions, to germinate do not germinate in the garden, simply collect seed. Danger of frost has passed, which makes it really low maintenance refer to the environment and endangered species in..., the daily rains should take care of watering for you have them ready for after. Garden bed risky for amateurs about 30 days for planting after the danger of frost has.. About 1 to 2.5 feet tall and will spread about 2 to feet. Of opportunity for fall planting, winter sowing milkweed seeds can attract butterflies! It works well in rain gardens, Legal or not, fireworks are too for... Over the surface of the soil i purchased milkweed seeds indoors 8 to 12 weeks before the last frost may. Can seem both abstract and overwhelming bamboo sticks near your planting holes and with... Are native to Europe have been growing in North America since the 1800s so when to plant milkweed seeds in illinois in fall... To wet soils in full sun and is also an option that does a good at..., such as queen and grey hairstreak butterflies not only mimics how … in cold,... # register a one-year subscription to Illinois Country Living is $ 12 to grow in medium to wet soils full... Cell packs with high-quality seed-starting soil mix settle just a bit plant in the of... A host plant for other butterflies, such as queen and grey hairstreak butterflies treated before.