Winter Sowing Flowers and Vegetables

Winter Sowing

For gardeners that want to get a jump start on growing, there is just a little bit of time left to winter sow seeds. The beauty of this method is that there is no need for grow lights, heat mats, or window sill space. In addition, winter sown seeds tend to produce healthy, strong seedlings—and they need little hardening off.

How to: Plant your seeds as directed on the package into containers that have drainage holes and clear-lidded (or opaque) covers. Then place them, covered, in a sheltered but sunny spot (if there is a prolonged warm spell, take off the lids to avoid over heating), making sure the soil doesn’t dry out. For a great way to winter sow in containers you may already have on hand, milk jugs cut in half or clear plastic containers with lids make fabulous mini-greenhouses–and also re-use items out of your recycling bin. Here are some good instructions: .

As the weather warms up, start watching for your seeds to sprout and make sure they don’t get overheated and have enough moisture for growing. When it’s time to plant in the ground, remove the whole clump from the container (easier if the soil is moist), gently divide and plant. Because these seedlings have spent all of their lives outdoors, they shouldn’t need much, if any hardening off—just plant on a non-windy day.

Perennial flower seeds to winter sow include coneflower, rudbeckia, salvia, yarrow, catmint, columbine, delphinium, hyssop, gaillardia, and veronica.

Annuals flower seeds include bachelor’s buttons, cosmos, feverfew, larkspur, nigella (love-in-a-mist), calendula, clary sage, honeywort (Cerinthe), orach, pincushion flower, Queen Anne’s lace, snapdragons, stock, sweet peas, sunflower and zinnia. For more information, and some beautiful photographs, visit Floret Flowers here:

Vegetables to winter sow include kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, beets, spinach, lettuce, bok choy and Swiss chard.

As the name implies, for this method to be effective, seeds should be planted in the winter—things are warming up quickly so if you’re interested in trying to winter sow seeds, it should be done soon!