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Finding and Selecting Milkweed Seeds and Plants

Caterpillar eating milkweed canva

The Xerces Society has launched a Milkweed Seed Finder database to make locating seeds in your state easier. Search for seeds in your state and contact the native plant nurseries that are listed to order milkweed seeds or plugs, then get planting! We recommend calling ahead to check the availability of milkweed plants at the nurseries of your choice, as inventory can vary through the course of a season and from year to year.

Visit Monarch Watch’s Milkweed Market or directory of milkweed vendors to find native milkweed seeds and plants available in your region. The Milkweed Market offers flats of milkweed plugs (plants) that were grown from seeds sent to Monarch Watch by volunteers from across the country. Order plants are grown from the seeds that were collected in your region, and make sure to collect and send seeds from your area to Monarch Watch next year. Monarch Watch also has two opportunities to apply for free milkweed plugs for large-scale restoration projects and for schools and non-profits.

For those of you in the desert southwest, the Southwest Monarch Study has a resource on their website with desert southwest milkweed providers and also provides more detailed information on establishing Monarch Waystations in this region.

If you live in the Western US, the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History has free milkweed and nectar plant seeds available on their website.

Finding Milkweed for Collection

If you plan to grow your own milkweeds or add milkweeds to your current site, you can collect seeds when the milkweed pods are ready to burst (this occurs in the fall in the northern U.S.). Once you have collected seeds, remove them from the pods and store them in an airtight container in a cool and dry environment (such as a basement or garage) until you are ready to use them. It is best to include a moisture remover (i.e. Silica gel) in your seed storage container. If the seeds are moist for a long period of time, they will start to rot and eventually die. Seeds collected in the Northern US will not germinate without cold stratification.

Most milkweed species grow particularly well in disturbed areas, so start by looking in the following places: roadsides, pastures, along railroad tracks, bike paths, highway medians, agricultural field margins, vacant land, cultivated gardens, and parks.

Selecting Milkweed Species for Planting

  • Download our Plant Milkweed for Monarchs handout for a list of milkweed species prioritized in your region that are known to be used by monarchs and easy to establish in gardens and fields.
  • If you want to learn even more, visit the Biota of North America Program's Asclepias page for distribution maps for each milkweed species across the continent.
  • Visit Monarch Watch's milkweed profiles page for more information on each of the recommended species.
  • Especially for habitat restoration projects, we recommend using milkweed plant materials originally sourced as close to the planting location as possible. See the USFS Celebrating Wildflowers website for more information.
  • The Xerces Society has species profiles for milkweed species in the western U.S., which can help you select species for your region and conditions.

Purchase live plants from the Monarch Joint Venture's Store