Milkweed Stratification Procedures, Courtesy Native American Seed

NOTE:  George Cates insists that sterile rubber (latex) gloves be worn at all times and that containers and implements be sterile.   Otherwise, mold can grow in the vermiculite and damage the seeds.

  1. Mix seeds with pre-chilled distilled water and let soak for 24 hours in the fridge.
  2.  After 24 hours, pour seeds into strainer and rinse with distilled water.
  3. Moisten vermiculite with distilled water, the exact quantity required varies with different media, moist but not dripping is best.
  4.  Mix rinsed seeds into vermiculite using your hands, and wear sterile gloves.
  5.  Seal container and store in fridge for 30-45 days at 35-45 degrees.  Remove and plant immediately if you see mold.
  6.  Plant entire mixture or sift seeds out and plant in prepared seed bed when soil temps are warm (70 degrees+).
  7.  Water often until germination occurs.

Soaking and washing the seeds removes natural chemicals that inhibit germination.  When the seeds are moved from the cold darkness of the refrigerator to the bright light and warmth of the sun, they are “shocked” into sprouting.  “The stratification process is meant to mimic nature,” he said, adding that the plants likely developed this dormancy strategy as an answer to drought conditions.

Good luck with your milkweed seeds and let us know how it goes!