Germination of Butterfly Weed Seed

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The butterfly weed grows to a height of more than 2 feet. The plant is best known for its foliage and colorful flowers that attract monarch butterflies and their caterpillars. The Smithsonian National Zoological Park recommends the plant as low-maintenance, perennial shrub–you can use it as a stand-alone ornamental or as an edging plant–and notes that it’s "easily propagated from seed." Although the plant is very hardy, the University of Florida notes that it requires USDA hardiness Zone 8 or higher to thrive.

Moderately Easy


things you’ll need:
  • Butterfly weed seeds
  • Plastic bag
  • Peat moss
  • Refrigerator
  • Spade
  • Rake
    1. Place the butterfly weed seeds in a plastic bag full of moist peat moss. Tie a knot in the open end of the bag to seal it.
    2. Put the bag in your refrigerator. Keep it chilled for 12 weeks, recommends Texas A&M University. This helps bring the seeds out of dormancy.
    3. Prepare an outdoor growing spot for your butterfly weed plants. The ideal location receives full sun and has well-drained clay, sand or loamy soil–the wide array of acceptable soil types are testaments to the plant’s hardy nature. Use a spade to breakup the soil to a depth of 6 inches.
    4. Remove the butterfly weed seeds once the 12-week refrigeration period is over.
    5. Scatter the seeds across the surface of the prepared soil. If you’re growing more than one butterfly weed plant, space them 18 inches apart, according to the University of Florida website.
    6. Rake the seeded soil to cover the butterfly weed seeds with a thin layer of soil. The ideal depth of sowing is 1/16th of an inch, reports Texas A&M University.
    7. Sprinkle the soil with water twice a day. The butterfly weed seeds typically germinate and break the surface of the soil within 30 to 90 days.

Tips & Warnings

  • Butterfly weed seeds experience optimal germination rates when the soil has a temperature of 65 to 75 degrees F.

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