The Onion Flower

Writer and Horticulturist

Wintersowing

2 Comments

This year I’m going to try something different. In addition to the usual seed starting mania that will go on under grow lights I’m trying a gentler approach and letting nature take its own course. It’s called wintersowing and most of the information I’ve gleaned about it comes from this website: http://www.wintersown.org/. Wintersowing is planting seeds in clear containers and placing them outside in the winter to let spring wake them up naturally. This method works especially well with seeds that require a period of dormancy or ‘cold stratification’ before germinating. It probably won’t work with the most tender of heat loving plants but there are hundreds of other varieties that it will work with. If you visit the very thorough website above you can find a list of perennials, annuals and even vegetables that have been successfully winter sown. I’ve detailed the steps I’ve taken and seeds I’ve sown in the photos below and hope to bring you the results of my gentler approach in the spring.

Step 1 – Find clear containers with lids and puncture holes in the top for ventilation and in the bottom for drainage.  Large pop bottles with the bottom removed would work also. The ventilation holes ensure that when the sun starts to heat things up your seeds won’t cook.

Clear Containers

Step 2 – Fill with seed starting mixture and follow packet directions for sowing. Label containers with seed varieties, remember the sun will bleach any writing so place the labels underneath the container.

Label, Ventilation & Drainage

Step 3 – Place your containers outside somewhere where they won’t get disturbed and will receive sunlight. When the days get sunnier and longer check on your seedlings as they may need more ventilation. Propping the lid open a tad should accomplish this.

Place Outside in Sunlit Area

List of seeds sowed:

  • Borage
  • Calendula
  • California Poppies
  • Cosmos
  • Hollyhocks
  • Magenta Spreen
  • Morning Glory
  • Silver Dollar
  • Veronica

Stay tuned for more photos in the springtime.

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2 thoughts on “Wintersowing

  1. Commenting on an old post 🙂

    Hey Sherry! Decided to follow your lead and try some winter sowing this year. Right now I’ve got some calendula, california poppies, pansies, cosmos, columbine, and verbena bonariensis sitting out on the deck.

    I’m also going to start some Verbena B. inside tonight, so this year can be a bit of an experiment to see what works better. I’ve read lots of opinions on how best to grow it, and the advice is all over the map. Have you grown it?

    Given that it’s still winter here, even if it’s officially spring, maybe I’ll throw a few more things outside 🙂

    Ash

    • I’ve had some Verbena B. growing inside for nearly two months and it’s still itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny! It seems to need a lot of heat, but likes to come up in fairly dry soil. Can’t tell you how many seedlings I’ve drowned now! I’ve also got some Verbena Hastata growing, they seem a little hardier. To be honest I’m not sure if any of these will still be around come May but I saved enough seeds to plant some outside too as a back-up plan. I’m no good with fussy things!

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