The Final Results Are UP
It’s been a couple weeks since we started annual milkweed seeds and it’s time to report this season’s results. If you haven’t read parts 1 and 2 of this seed starting journey, click the links below to start from the seedy beginning:
Starting Seeds Inside II (Discover My Secret for Lightning Fast Seed Germination)
- 8 new Gomphocarpus physocarpus (balloon plant) seedlings. The balloon plant seeds in the smallest container germinated first….probably because thewarmed the soil faster in a small container.
- 3 Giant milkweed seeds soaked overnight in water germinated…our first ever giant milkweed seedlings.
- None of the unsoaked giant milkweed seeds germinated…hoping they will with more time. Soak your annual milkweed seeds!
- Next time, I’ll use smaller containers or seed starting trays to enhance heat effect (not gallon milk jugs).
- Sprayed seedlings with hydrogen peroxide mixture I’ve been using on overwintering plants. Plants seem to respond well to h2o2!
- Satisfied with these results…just not sure where I’m going to put all the balloon plant milkweed, since we already have 3 large plants.
- Will update this section with any further developments
Results & Comments
First off, I’d like to report that there was a previous error in this post. The milkweed species below is Gomphocarus Physocarpus, commonly known as balloon plant. I’m leaving this here to show you how well my seed starting technique worked for this species:
Here are some ‘mixed’ results on a few different milkweed species:
1. SWAN SONG: I started swan milkweed seeds (Gomphocarpus physocarpus) that I purchased online. I enjoyed great success and all 7 of my plants eclipsed 7 feet! In the fall, I was able to harvest seeds from them to use for this season. Here are the final results from my gathered seeds:
- 10 seeds planted
- first seed germinated after 4 days
- 100% germination
I’m happy I collected seeds last fall. It certainly paid off this season, and those seeds should be viable for years to come!
Sad Seeds ☹️
Once again, when I opened the package of my Calotropis gigantea seeds and was appalled by the condition of the seeds. They seemed small and they looked old and brittle. My first reaction was to toss them but realized my gardening predictions had been wrong before so I planted…0% germination rate again.
Here are the sad results from a couple of seasons ago:
2. TARNISHED CROWN: Calotropis gigantea (crown plant) is a giant milkweed variety with lots of thick leaves for monarch cateprillars. This is native to warm weather regions including Africa/India and commonly used by Hawaiian monarchs. None of my regular sources had these hard to find milkweed seeds at the time, so I took a chance on an unknown vendor.
The seeds I purchased looked old and immature (kinda like mini Benjamin Buttons), but I’d never grown them, so what did I know?:
- 16 seeds planted
- first seed germinated after 5 days
- less than 1% germination
- I started the remaining seeds yesterday…hoping I can salvage 2-3 plants for the season out of 50 seeds
I’m very disappointed with these results, but I’m more disappointed that this company is ripping off the gardening community with subpar seeds. If you are thinking of buying milkweed seeds or plants, check out my list of reputable online vendors. (This company won’t be making that list anytime soon.)
Our procera seed starting was very successful in past seasons:
3. TREE OF LIFE: When I was researching sources for buying giant milkweed, I came across a similar species of milkweed I had never heard of before. The milkweed tree (Calotropis procera) is also native to Africa but a rare find across North America. I decided to give procera a try since it’s reported be both a host and nectar plant for monarchs, but would these seeds be as disappointing as the last?:
- 10 seeds planted
- first seed germinated after 5 days
- 100% germination rate
More Starting Milkweed Seeds Inside Results
4. The REAL Swan Milkweed:
For the first time, we started Gomphocarpus fruticosus (swan milkweed) this season. These plants are similar to the balloon plant mentioned above, but they have a shorter, bushier growth habit.
I receive these seeds as a gift and am not sure how old they are. Only 6 total of 15 seeds germinated, but the seedlings look healthy so far. Unless these seeds require different treatment than their balloon plant brother, I’m guessing the seeds might be a few years old.
The One you can Count On?
5. Tropical Milkweed:
The only seeds with a high germination rate were the tropical milkweed seeds. I had harvested the seeds from our garden in 2012 so I was hopeful they would still be viable. Below is one of the milkweed seedlings on what looks to be a tropical island, but the sand is just an added layer of protection against fungus gnats…
Tropical Milkweed, Balloon Plant, and Calotropis Procera all have high germination rates using the germination techniques outlined in this 3-post series.
In the years of seed starting since these first experiments, I’m happy to report it’s easier to find viable seeds of some of these lesser know varieties. The milkweed movement continues to grow which brings home to the struggling monarch population….grow milkweed! ? ??
With over 100 species of North American milkweed, each year brings opportunity for new growth…and more monarchs! While native milkweed species are the cornerstone for a successful butterfly garden, you’ll benefit more from starting annual milkweeds indoors since they need to flower and seed in one season.