• Marvelous Milkweed, part of a butterfly garden

    by  • October 17, 2010 • Fall, Plant Profiles • 5 Comments

    Collecting milkweed pods

    I found these milkweed pods on a drive up to Bald Mountain in the Sierra Forest. I admired the neat way the seeds are ‘lined up’ and packed tightly in the pods, so when I threw them in a basket by the front door, I thought I’d come back later to sow them around the garden.

    Little did I know what would happen! The seeds puffed out of the pods, as they dried, in a pretty froth of white! And they stayed in their pattern. Serendipity!

    Milkweed pod

    Milkweed pod

    It’s a good thing that my husband drove us up to the high country yesterday.  If I had been driving, we never would have made it!  It would have taken much longer, for I am always seeing things on the roadsides that I stop for.

    I stop for everything, whether its a flower, historical marker or to pick up a rock, it doesn’t matter.  I want to stop.  This time it is the cottony white fluff of the milkweed.   One great benefit of milkweed is that it provides habitat for Monarch butterflies, honey bees and hummingbirds, the very wildlife we want for our gardens!

     Finding and planting seeds

    Milkweed produces their seeds, arranged in fascinatingly overlapping rows, in pods. I thought the way the seeds are all stacked together inside the pod was kinda cool.  The pods ripen in the Fall, split open and the seeds, attached to white fluff or silk, are spread by the wind.  You may be able to collect the seeds along the roadsides now, since the white fluff popping out of the pods is easy to spot.

    Milkweed seeds puff out in a pattern

    Milkweed seeds puff out in a pattern as they dry

    It led to this ‘award-winning’ photo, if I may boast. I won a book from a garden website… Yea!

    The best method for planting milkweed seeds is outdoors in November. This gives the seeds the required exposure to moisture and cold temperature that they require to germinate. Once the temperature is warm enough in the spring, the seeds will sprout. I’ll report the progress of these I’ll plant next month.

    Be on the lookout for these milkweed pods on our roadsides…they’re all around and are what Monarch butterflies need to live.


    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She also manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.

    5 Responses to Marvelous Milkweed, part of a butterfly garden

    1. March 21, 2011 at 1:12 am

      What pretty pods and beautiful fluffy seeds! You’ve captured their beauty perfectly, Sue! And, best of all, they’re DESIRABLES!!! I smiled when you referred to your need to stop to pick up rocks (& other roadside treasures), as I’m exactly the same!!! I’ve been doing it for years 🙂

      • March 21, 2011 at 8:04 pm

        Thanks, Desiree, I thought they were so interesting …and desirable!. I had just tossed the down in that flat basket after our trip, and we were both amazed at how they poffed out and dried over the next few days. I hope some of the seeds sprout! I scattered them all.

    2. May 30, 2011 at 11:53 am

      After seeing your two pix of the Milkweed seed pods, I thought I might have been mistaken in identifying it. But of the many pix of Milkweed on flickr, I saw both the blooms, similar to mine; and the pods, similar to yours. Unfortiunatley, our deer ate the blooms and much of the stalk before I could see them develop.

    3. May 30, 2011 at 11:55 am
    4. May 30, 2011 at 6:43 pm

      We saw these pods last fall on the way up to Bald Mountain, kind of on the way to Huntington Lake. I brought about five pods home and just threw them down in the basket. After noticing how they puffed out of their pods, I photogarphed them and then released them on a slope above where the house is. i hope some sprout and grow here. I always enjoy identifying new plants. I hope you find more milkweed!

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