Milkweed Seeds & Stratification

Boy does that title sound impressive, or what? Why am I discussing seeds when it is -4 with a wind chill factor of -23*? I am a HUGE lover of all things that pollinate -- bees (all kinds), moths, butterflies, hummingbirds and we are in a serious crisis in regards to them. ALL of them. They monarchs have faced serious de-population and colony reduction for years. It is getting critical with this information released recently: "On December 15, 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that listing the monarch as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act is warranted.(Source:

I've planted milkweed in former home locations, actually I've planted pollinator friendly native plants at each home. It takes a big village to keep these tiny insects alive, healthy and abundant for future generations. I ordered in some milkweed seeds from I hadn't begun my milkweed plants from seed before so I wasn't exactly sure what to do. I went to their website, which is full of valuable planting information. I discovered that what needed to be done, since I hadn't scattered them in the fall, I needed to 'stratify' them. What is that you ask?

It is the process where you place seeds close together in layers in moist sand or peat to preserve them or to help them germinate. Off to buy a frozen bag of potting soil~and I let it sit in my utility room for 2 days to thaw out. Thankfully, I had a heavy box that was lined with a water proof material, so putting soil in it wouldn't be that difficult.

Add about 4" of soil, scatter the seeds on the top of the soil. Lightly cover them by using your fingers to crumble the soil. I then folded down the top, sealed it with packing tape and took it outside to the -4* weather. Yikes it is cold! What am I actually doing?

"Cold stratification is a plant defense mechanism, designed to keep seeds from breaking dormancy and sprouting at the wrong time. In nature, seeds would cold stratify all on their own under a blanket of snow. Starting seeds for your garden in the spring is a different matter, as those seeds have likely been in a warm, room temperature packet all winter long. No worries, it’s easy enough to stratify seeds at home before planting." (Source: I guess there is some benefit to this frigid weather! I'm getting my head wrapped around spring activities and keeping it from focusing on the fact that 15 minutes outside and my skin would be frozen without protective clothing.

It is now outside and waiting, like me, for springtime!!

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