Friday, April 17, 2015

Milkweed for the Monarchs

I have posted several times about monarchs and the need to do what we can to help protect them and provide a habitat for them. I added milkweed to my garden last year and my garden is a certified Monarch Waystation. More milkweed is needed, though, so I started some seeds a few weeks ago.

My seeds are Asciepias syriaca from Hudson Valley Seed Library. Cold stratification is required for these seeds. That means they need cold, moist conditions in order to encourage germination. To achieve this, you could plant the seeds outside in the fall or early winter, or if you are busy like me and tend to have too much fall clean-up to do to plant much, you can wait until spring and do artificial cold stratification. Got a fridge? Then you can do artificial cold stratification.

The instructions call for deep pots, so I actually used some plastic cups and punched holes in the bottom. I use Gardener’s Supply Germinating Mix for all of my seeds. I have had a lot of success with their mix. I mixed it a tubtrug with water until it was damp. I use chopsticks to poke holes in the soil and mark the chopsticks with measurements so that I plant at the correct depth. The plastic cups are placed inside a baking dish that is lined with a wet paper towel. Every so often I pour more water into the dish to keep it damp. The cups are covered with plastic wrap that is held on with rubber bands. (To be honest, I just made up this process and assume it will work.)

This has been living in my refrigerator for almost three weeks now.

On Monday I will take them out and move them to the greenhouse. Then, assuming they do well, I can move them outside after the last frost date. Fingers crossed I get some nice milkweed plants this year. Gotta help those magnificent monarchs!

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