Narrow-leaf milkweed (Asclepias fasicularis)
Consider sustainability. Where possible plant some in places
where buildings won’t be built, crops planted, or livestock
Sowing Seed Directly in the
Ground - After 1st Fall Rain
Plant groups of 5 to 20 plants after the first fall rainstorm spaced 12”
– 18” apart
2 seeds per plant into weed free, well prepared soil
Cover with 1/4" soil, and keep moist until germinated
In pots in Spring or Early
Summer: Planting Instructions
Plant in potting mix in
containers, 2 seeds per container
Keep moist until germination, water as needed 1x or 2x a week
Transplant after the first fall rainstorm spaced 12”-18" apart
YouTube Videos (for planting in seed starter tray):
Refrigerate seeds first?
Some recommend treating the milkweed seeds the same way bulbs are treated before planting - it simulates a winter and so when taken out of the fridge and planted, the seed knows its spring and its time to start growing.
Procedure for "wintering" the seeds ("Cold Moist Stratification"):
YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkYx_5lvurw
Assemble the following materials:
¼ cup measure
¼ tsp measure
Put into Ziploc bag ¼ cup of dry sand and ¼ tsp of warm
Add seeds, close and mix well
Open bag and squeeze the air out and re-seal
Tape seed packet to Ziploc and put in fridge for 6 weeks
Alternative in the ground 1:
A person in Pacific Grove dug a1-foot deep hole, lined it with fencing to keep gophers out, filled it with potting mix. He then planted the seeds around 1/4", watered a few times and has had a 90% live plant rate so far.
Alternative in the ground 2:
The Earthways Vegetable Seeder can be set to drag a hole 1/4", while the wheel in the seed holder (the
"cucumber" wheel is recommended) space the seeds every 9 inches, and a chain then drags the dirt over the hole.
Alternative from the air or for inaccessible places 3:
The goal is to seed 10 to 50 square foot patches here and there in otherwise inaccessible areas, not large fields.
In a seedless watermelon cut a modest whole and remove (eat) the
good parts. Prepare a seed mixture with native milkweed and wildflower
seeds, balance potting soil. Close up the hole with a cantaloupe skin
held in place with wooden toothpicks. After the first fall rain
confirm appropriate permissions for specific locations, take up in a
light plane with an openable window or door and drop on the spot.
Alternative from the air or for inaccessible places 3:
Seed balls: Form potting mix into balls and roll in seed mixture. Hopefully when the seed balls hit the seeds will be driven into the ground and covered by the potting soil.
Some ideas from the Web:
First, How Do I Know When my Seedlings are Ready for
Transplant to a Bigger Pot or Tray?
When seed have been sown close together in a flat, they grow
together rather quickly. They soon become overcrowded, tall and spindly (this
is why seed should be sown thinly to begin with) from stretching in competition
for light. You may transplant as soon as the stems are over one inch tall and
the cotyledons are showing. However, after four true leaves have developed, or
the plants begin to touch one another, don’t delay transplanting your seedlings
into pots where they will have more space. This website includes pictures of
the first true leaves for all of the different species listed, so you can check
these pictures if you have doubt about whether your seedlings have true leaves
or are only showing the cotyledons.
Now that My Seedlings are Ready to be Transplanted to a Pot,
What Do I Do?
If you are growing your seedlings in a seed flat, you will
get far superior results if you transplant your seedlings into pots or a
larger, divided flat for growing on until they are ready to be planted in the
garden; rather than trying to transplant the seedlings directly into the garden
at this stage. If you started your seed in individual pots, you will not have
to transplant, for the pots provide enough space to develop roots that will
serve the young plants well when planted in the garden.
To transplant from a seedling flat, there are several simple
steps to follow:
1. Water the seedling flat, using bottom watering, one hour
before transplanting, so that seedlings have plenty of water in them to help
withstand the shock of transplanting. You should give them a complete soak, so
that soil is wet, not just moist.
2. Moisten the soil or growing mix that you will transplant
the seedlings into. I recommend using a commercially prepared mix, which has
been specially formulated for starting seeds and growing seedlings. Fill the
pots or inserts you are using to the brim and level off the potting mix with a
ruler or other straight edge. Set the pots in a tray. You may want to use a
tray and pot inserts made just for transplants. Or you may simply use a large
tray for growing on your transplants, though there is much greater root damage
and shock when planting out into the garden from a tray, than transplanting
from a pot. The root ball is much easier to keep intact in a pot than in an intermingled
3. Dibble the growing mix in each pot by making a hole large
enough to fit the seedling’s roots. Push the end of a pot label or a pencil an
inch or so into the growing mix and move it back and forth to open up the hole.
4. Gently remove one seedling at a time from the flat. Use a
fork or tongue depressor or old label to carefully pry the seedlings apart, as
you lift them from the seedling flat. Pull them apart carefully. A small ball
of growing mix should cling to the roots. Hold the seedling by the cotyledons,
or seed leaves, not by the stems, in order to avoid injury to the stem; the
plant can grow new leaves, but NOT a new stem!
5. Place the root ball into the hole you have made for it.
Gently firm the growing mix around the roots once, then fill in the hole so
that the soil surface is level in the pot. Cover only the roots and base of the
stem, not the leaves, and do not worry if the potting mix is not perfectly
level – the less handling of the roots at this point, the better.
6. Label the pots with the name of the plant, the date sown
and the date transplanted. Of course, if you used a label when you first
planted your seed, you can simply add the transplant date to the original
7. Thoroughly soak with water with a little fertilizer in
it, from the bottom, the same way as for a seedling flat.
More on transplanting
The first leaves to unfold when a seed germinates are called
“cotyledone.” These first leaves often look different from the leaves that follow.
Those that follow are considered “true leaves.” When seedlings develop their
first set of true leaves, they are ready for transplanting.
You can transplant your seedlings into any type of container
you wish. We transplant ours in 1204 trays, which house 48 separated plants per
11×21 plastic container. This tray is placed into an open flat.
Whatever container you choose to use, make sure it has
proper drainage. You may wish to buy commercial plastic trays (such as the
1204) and place some gravel above the drainage hole in the bottom of container
for proper filtering. Fill the container with the appropriate potting soil,
water down completely, and let the soil completely absorb the water.
Once the soil has absorbed the water, take a popsicle stick
(or old pencil) and place a circular hole wherever you intend to place a
seedling. (In the case of the plastic compartmentalized trays [such as the
1204], place one hole in the center of each compartment.
Now, with your index finger, carefully lift out a portion of
seedlings from your germination container. In the case of the 20-row seeding
tray, lift out about a one-inch portion of a row, scooping it from the bottom.
Carefully, separate the seedlings (from the bottom side-not the top and not the
root), taking each seedling and gently poking it into the holes you have just
made. Allow for at least 1/3-1/2 of the seedling below the soil mark. Take your
thumb and forefinger and gently squeeze the soil around the plant, and go on to
the next one. Once you get the hang of this it all goes very quickly and
Once your transplanting is completed, you can lower your
temperature requirements (60-70 degrees is fine), remove any bottom heat source
and begin to watch your plants flourish.
You can now water with your watering can, preferably one
which can “sprinkle,” rather than “pour” the water into the container.
Do not over-water however, and do not allow the soil to
completely dry out.
Prior to planting outdoors, it helps to harden off your
transplants. For a few hours during the warmth of the day set them outside and
allow them to acclimate to the outdoors.
When the plants are anywhere from six to eight weeks old,
your outside area is free from frost and the soil temperature reaches a steady
50 degrees, you’re ready to plant these puppies outdoors.