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Clean Milkweed Seed with a Paper Bag!

January 3, 2020

By: Barb Holtz

If you're thinking about collecting and cleaning the milkweed seeds from your wildflower garden to share or sow, here's a harvesting tip. Before all that fluff tickles your nose, invades your hair or gets stuck on your sweater, grab a paper grocery bag. No need to pick seeds from downy kites. Just give them a shake.

When to Harvest:

YES! These seeds are ready to harvest. The pod has split and the seeds are dark brown.

Milkweed Pod is Ready for Seeds to be Harvested

YES! These seeds are ripe and dispersing. Fine to harvest but easier if still contained in the pod for the method described here.

Milkweed seeds coming out of pod ready for harvest

NO! These seeds are not ready to harvest. The pod is still tightly closed so seeds are not ripe.

Do not harvest milkweed when the pod is still closed.


STEP 1: Hold split milkweed pod inside a paper grocery bag. Strip seeds, fluff and all into the bag. (The bag shown here is a large lunch bag. Works, but grocery size bag is preferred.)

Milkweed inside a paper bag ready to be cleaned

STEP 2: Once bag is filled with fluff, roll top to close and shake vigourously. The seed will detach leaving the fluff behind. Tear off a bottom corner of the bag and pour out your clean seed.

Clean milkweed seeds from shaking paper bag

Don't discard the fluff! Release for use by critters as a winter home lining or nests in the spring.

Winter is a great time to get milkweed seeds in the ground! You can learn more about planting milkweed here!

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