The monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) population has been declining precipitously, in large part because the milkweed plants that the monarch caterpillars feed on are being destroyed. A number of organizations have encouraged the public to grow milkweed in their yards to offset some of this destruction.
On a November’s day walk through a Southborough field, we collected a few milkweed pods that hadn’t yet released their seeds. I separated the seeds from the cotton and placed the seeds in the refrigerator for a few months.
In mid-March, I removed the seeds and soaked them in warm water, planting them in a biodegradable tray. It took a while for the seeds to sprout. Perhaps they were waiting for warmer temperatures (our house is rather cool during the winter). The seedlings were up by May and I planted them outdoors on May 6.