Beginning in September and through the month of October is the best time of year to collect Common Milkweed seed pods. The packets are usually ripe, or near fully ripened, and many have already begun to split open.
An easy way to separate the floss from the seeds is gently pop open the pod and grab the tip of the floss at the tip of the pod. Hold the pod over a bowl and slide your fingers over the seeds. The seeds will fall away and you are left holding the floss. The floss stays relatively intact and is easier to discard, rather than floating everywhere, including your nose 🙂 To prevent skin irritation, always wash your hands after handling milkweed.
Either scatter your seeds now, or store in a paper, not plastic, bag. If you decide to plant now, choose a location that gets at least a half day of sun. Lightly scratch the surface where you intend to plant, sprinkle the seeds over the cultivated area, and cover with a 1/4 inch layer of soil.
If planning to plant in the spring, the seeds must experience a period of cold for at least six weeks. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator six to eight weeks prior to planting. This is called “cold stratification.”
Saturday I spent the afternoon looking for seeds for a special friend of a special milkweed I’d come across several years earlier. It blooms in a royal rich purplish magenta and is a mecca for many species of butterflies and bees. The mystery milkweed grows in a field where the farmer usually mows before the milkweed has gone to seed. Not this year and I was able to collect a bunch!
Much to my surprise and delight, I found more than seeds! From across this grand meadow, I spied a solitary caterpillar. How extraordinary that he/she has been able to survive living in the wild this late into October and is only due to the wonderful late season warmth we have been experiencing. With temperatures expected to drop down in the 40s later this week, I gently carried the caterpillar back to my car and brought him home. He never stopped eating while transporting and he is continuing to chow down nearly nonstop. Perhaps he knows he is in a race against time.
Mid-October Monarch Sightings!
And her friend Casey shares a photo from Woonsocket, RI. Many thanks to Alessandra and Casey for sending photos!
There were two at the EP lighthouse on Saturday and one in my garden on Sunday. My friend Lillian shares from her garden in the the Niles Beach area that she had 3 – 5 Monarchs last Monday and Tuesday, 1 – 3 Monarchs on Wednesday and Thursday. Hers, as was mine, as well as our RI friends, were all drinking nectar from Butterfly Bushes.
Fundraising Update – We are in the final two weeks of fundraising to bring Beauty on the Wing to American Public Television. If you have thought about giving a contribution and have not yet done so, please consider making a tax deductible donation or becoming an underwriter to bring our Monarch Butterfly documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly to PBS. To Learn More go here and to DONATE go here. Thank you!
An added note – for any person or organization contributing over $1,000.00, your name will be at the beginning and end credits each and every time the documentary airs nationwide! For contributions of $5,000.00 or more, your organization’s logo will be featured in the credits. For more information, please feel free to contact me.
With gratitude and deep appreciation to the following for their generous contributions to Beauty on the Wing –
Lauren Mercadante, New England Biolabs, Jonathan and Sally Golding, James Masciarelli, Pete and Bobbi Kovner, Joeann Hart and Gordon Baird, Karrie Klaus (Boston), Sally Jackson, Marion Frost (Ipswich), Heidi and John Shiver (Pennsylvania), Marty and Russ Coleman, Joy Van Buskirk (Florida), Lillian and Craig Olmstead, Suki and Fil Agusti (Rockport), Janis Bell, Nina Groppo, Nubar Alexanian, Marguerite Matera, Claudia Bermudez, Thomas Hauck, Judith Foley (Woburn), Jane Paznik-Bondarin (New York), Paul Vassallo (Beverly), Stella Martin, Liv Hauck (California), Julia Williams Robinson (Minnesota), Cynthia Dunn, Diane Gustin, John Ronan, Karen Maslow, Fernando Arriaga (Mexico City), Holly Nipperus (Arizona), Kristina Gale (California), Maggie Debbie, Kate and Peter Van Demark (Rockport), Mia Nehme (Beverly), Chicki Hollet, Alice Gardner (Beverly), Therese Desmarais (Rockport), Jennie Meyer, Kathy Gerdon Archer (Beverly), Melissa Weigand (Salem), Duncan Todd (Lexington), Catherine Ryan, Linda Bouchard (Danvers), Elaine Mosesian, Paul Wegzyn (Ipswich), Catherine Bayliss, Alessandra Borges (Rhode Island), Jan Waldman (Swampscott), Carolyn Constable (Pennsylvania), Nancy Mattern (New Mexico), Ian Gardiner, Judy Arisman, Tom Schaefer, Margaret Thompson, Edward DeJesus (Maryland), Kim Tieger (Manchester), Mary Weissblum, Nancy Leavitt, Susan Pollack, Alice and David Gardner (Beverly), Kristina and Gene Martin, Gail and Thomas Pease (Beverly), Carol and Duncan Ballantyne (Beverly), Sharon Byrne Kashida, Eric Hutchins and Julia McMahon, C. Lovgren, Joan Keefe, Linda Kaplan, Mary Rhinelander