Milk ThistleRegular price $4.50
Hardy to Zones 6 to 9, otherwise grown as a spring-planted annual, 120 days to seed harvest
Annual or overwintering annual, native to the Mediterranean and widely naturalized. Giant, shiny-leaved plant with distinct white variegations, producing bright purple flowers that engender hefty brown-black seeds. Traditional usage (TWM): hepatoprotective, jaundice, hepatitis. Plant prefers moist, rich soil and full sun to part shade. Does very well at the coast, but can certainly be grown inland. Best to sow seed in late summer, allow the rosette to overwinter, then harvest ripe seed the following year.
In zone 5 and lower it may be possible to direct seed in the very early spring and pull off a harvest by fall. At harvest, wear gloves, cut off the partially dried capitulae and drop in a bucket, further dry in the sun for a few days, then thresh with a stick until the seedhead is well broken apart, and screen and wind winnow until you get pure seed. The plant is surprisingly seed productive and although it takes some work to get the goodies out, it is well worth it. Tap-rooted plant does poorly in pots and is best sown directly in the soil.
Plant all the seeds, because as nature would have it, some of them come up right away and some lie dormant to come up another day. Thin to 3 feet apart in the row and 5 feet apart between the rows–if planted too densely, you will not be able to get in to get the seeds!
Approximately 15 seeds.