• Marvelous Milkweed, part of a butterfly garden

    by  • October 17, 2010 • Fall, Plant Profiles

    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.