Milkweed Seed Pod Collection

Submitted by Faye Mahaffey

OSUE Brown County Master Gardener Volunteer

Have you noticed more Milkweed plants along the roadsides? This is great news for the Monarch Butterflies and Caterpillars since the Monarchs depend on milkweeds as host plants. The butterflies deposit eggs on milkweed plants, which then provide nutrition for the caterpillar phase of the butterfly’s life cycle.

My Common milkweed, Sullivant’s milkweed, Swamp milkweed and Butterfly-weed plants have been stripped of all their leaves by the hungry Monarch caterpillars. In past years the Milkweed plants in the front yard have been the only “dining area” for Monarch caterpillars, but this year all my milkweed plants have been devoured!

Are you wondering what to do with all your milkweed pods? If you aren’t going to plant them, your county Soil and Water Conservation District office will take them. The Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative is calling on Ohioans for a second year of Milkweed pod collections. This project started in 2015 and since then volunteers have collected approximately 5000 gallons of Common milkweed seed pods, totaling over 22 million seeds! During September and October, everyone is encouraged to collect milkweed pods from established plants and drop them off at the nearest pod collection station. Brown County SWCD’s office is located at 706 S. Main St. in Georgetown and will serve as the collection station for Brown County. The container will be located outside the USDA Service Center at the 706 S. Main St. address.

Please make sure that before you collect seed, you become familiar with the Common milkweed plant to avoid harvesting pods from similar plants such as hemp dogbane and swamp milkweed.

To collect the seed pods from a milkweed plant, it is best to pick them when they are dry, gray, or brown in color. The pods should be mature, but not open when collected. If the center seam pops with gentle pressure, they can be picked. Try to avoid collecting the red and black milkweed beetles, since they will damage the seeds!

It is best to collect pods into paper bags. Plastic bags collect unwanted moisture. Put the date and county collected on the bag when you turn them in. Keep the pods in a cool, dry area until you can deliver them to the nearest collection site.

All milkweed pods collected during this time will be processed by the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative (OPHI) partners and all of the seed collected will be used to establish new plantings and create additional habitat for the Monarch butterfly throughout Ohio.

If you have questions regarding milkweed pod collection, please contact Marci Lininger at or Lori Stevenson at

Do you have a Common Milkweed patch in your yard? You might want to start one and I promise that you will be glad that you did!

Interested in extending your growing season? Plan to attend our first garden seminar on Thursday, September 19, 2019 at the Mt. Orab Campus of Southern State Community College. Deb Garner, OSUE Clermont County Master Gardener Volunteer, will talk about WinterGardening. The seminar will be held in Room 208 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Remember that all garden seminars are free and open to the public.

Fall Planting Milkweed Seeds

Submitted by Faye Mahaffey

OSUE Brown County Master Gardener Volunteer


Can you believe it’s almost November? I seem to sound like a “broken record” each month, complaining that the days just flew by!

The rain and wind continue to knock down the leaves and now the Cottonwood leaves are creating a heavy mat on the grass. Those leaves are the toughest to deal with as far as I am concerned! And now walking down by the creek has become quite tricky because of all the black walnuts on the ground!

November is a great time to plant milkweed seeds according to Tony Gomez ( It’s too warm for the ground to be frozen, but too cold for seeds to sprout before winter sets in. Remember that perennial milkweed seeds need cold stratification, so why not let winter take care of that naturally! Exposing seeds to cool temperatures before the warmer temps of spring will cause them to break their dormancy, coaxing out your new spring seedlings.

The 10 simple steps to fall planning milkweed seeds include:

  1. Put your seeds into a small bowl and bring out to the planting area.
  2. Clear away any mulch or rocks from the area which could potentially block the growth of a small seedling.
  3. Water the area thoroughly and let it saturate the soil.
  4. Put on garden gloves and stick your index finger in the dirt up to your first knuckle.
  5. Repeat this process for each seed you are planting.
  6. Place a seed in each hole.
  7. Cover the seeds with the already-moist soil.
  8. Mark your seed area with sturdy plant labels.
  9. Do you have squirrels? You might want to consider putting down chicken wire to deter squirrels or other pesky critters from digging up your new milkweed patch.
  10. Relax for the winter!

I am still hoping to get some small trees planted before the ground freezes, but I might have to do it in the rain! We all complained about the hot humid weather and how it kept us from working in our gardens. Now that the cooler weather is here, I would love for it to stop raining long enough for me to finish my October “to-do list”. How about you?

Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the garden seminar on Thursday, November 15at the Mt. Orab campus of Southern State Community College. Doug Dyer, OSUE Brown County Master Gardener Volunteer, will talk about Poison Hemlock and other invasive weeds. Remember that all seminars are free and open to the public and are held in Room 208 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The wind is howling, and the leaves are blowing! It’s a great day to stay inside and plan next year’s gardens!