|Asclepias incarnata in bloom|
(left lower corner)
Swamp Milkweed (aka Red Milkweed or Marsh Milkweed)
Red Milkweed attracts butterflies of all kinds and the leaves are a preferred food source for the Monarch Caterpillar. Asclepias incarnata thrives along ponds, streams and detention basins. It preferes moist soil but also does wel in average, well-drained garden sites. Full sun is best and some light shade is tolerated. No butterfly garden is complete without Red Milkweed, also known as Swamp Milkweed or Marsh Milkweed. Zones 3 - 9.
Once the pods are thoroughly dry, the seeds can be separated from the coma, or silk-like ballooning material. Try stripping the seeds and coma from the pods into a paper bag. Shake the contents of the bag vigorously to separate the seeds from the coma and then cut a small hole in a corner of the bottom of the bag and shake out the seeds. Store dried seeds in a cool, dry place protected from mice and insects (a recloseable plastic bag or container in the refrigerator works well.)
In preparation for spring planting, seeds should be vernalized (given cold treatment) to increase the germination rate. The best way to give the required vernalization is through stratification. To stratify seeds place them in cold, moist potting soil (sterilized soil is best but is not required) in a dark place for several weeks or months. Since most people prefer not to place potting soil in their refrigerators, an alternative is to place the seeds between moist paper towels in a plastic bag where there are fewer fungi and bacteria available to attack the seeds. After a vernalization period of 3-6 weeks, the seeds can be planted in warm (70˚F), moist soil. Even after vernalization / stratification, seeds of many plant species will not germinate. In these cases, the seed coats appear to require action by physical or chemical agents to break down or abrade the seed coat. "Scarification" with some type of physical abrasion that breaks the seed coat can be accomplished by placing the seeds in a container with coarse sand and shaking the container for a 30 seconds or so. Scarification may be required for some milkweeds (e.g., A. viridiflora and A. latifolia) and might improve the germination rates of other species.