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direct sowing vs winter sowing

Landenberg, PA(Zone 6b)

Hi,

I've been reading this winter sowing forum and I don't understand the benefits of putting the seeds in containers during the winter vs just sowing them directly in the fall in the flower bed where you want them, letting them hang out there over the winter and germinate in the spring when the temps are right for that particular seed.

I did one direct sown seed garden this year (sown in spring mind) and it's stunning - so I'm thinking of doing another one at the front of the house but this time direct sowing in September and seeing what emerges in the spring - will this work just as well as winter sowing?

Haven't had much experience with sowing seeds so maybe I'm not understanding things properly.

Springfield, MA(Zone 6a)

Gee - I don't know - I did winter sow and I had TONS of plants.

Currently, I have about a gazillion linaria seedlings and baby's breath seedling germinating. I have no idea if they will survive the winter. At the same time, I have lots of foxglove germinating as well, along with some AGASTACHE Golden Jubilee. No idea whether they will make it.

Anybody got some ideas?

Landenberg, PA(Zone 6b)

Since posting this question I found an article on a winter sowing website which says that the germination rate is better with winter sowing vs direct sowing so you don't waste as many seeds - but seems a lot of hassle having to transplant from those containers. Also having all those ugly containers hanging around the yard........

I think I'll be satisfied with SOME germination from direct sowing - I don't need zillions of plants. I think I'm going to try both methods with half of each seed packet. direct sow with one half and winter sow/transplant with the other and I'll see which one's a) germinates successfully - if at all b) flowers first c) produces the most robust plants d) is the least work for me!

I suppose winter sowing will be the way to go where direct sowing produces ZERO germination....or if you need tons and tons of plants to fill a large area?

.....Although I might still be missing something....................?

Ellicott City, MD(Zone 7a)

Direct Sowing vs. Winter Sowing http://wintersown.org/wseo1/Direct_Sowing.html

"I usually direct sow....why is winter sowing better?"

"When you direct sow in the ground the seeds are at the mercy of Mother Nature....they can get washed out in downpours, be eaten by critters and bug and birds, desiccate in the wind, or can rot in the soil.

In a Winter Sowing mini-greenhouse the seeds are in a protected environment. They get the same weather as the seeds in the ground...same temperatures, and the little slits in the lids allow both rain and melting snows to keep the soil moist and the flats watered. But they ARE protected so more of the seeds will survive to germinate in Spring. The germination counts are generally astonishingly high."

Also, some seeds that may be very difficult to germinate have been successfully sown via the wintersowing method.

Need more information on wintersowing? Here you go, http://www.wintersown.org

Pawling, NY(Zone 5b)

think wintersown is better cuz some seeds need to be chilled.. not that I know which ones but some do need chilling to germinate..

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Direct sowing will accomplish the chilling also, since seeds go into the ground before spring.

I do both, also. :-)

Pawling, NY(Zone 5b)

Critter, I thought direct sowing was after the ground warmed up?? No wonder my direct sowning attempts don't do too well.. LOL..

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

Mmm....good question... I think it's very interesting what will work with the least amount of angst....here's my take on it, after some trial and error in the past few years...

Well, 'direct' sowing (around our area) can be done both in spring and fall. It depends on what you're planting, when, and where....

For seeds that need scarification, cold treatments, and such---most perennials, it seems-- 'direct' sowing, seeds can go into the garden in the fall (but it will take a year or two to get flowers on these.)

For others, especially tender annuals like zinnias and such, 'direct' sowing in the spring is better (at least around here) for a decent crop (less chance of disturbance by predators and seed rot and other weather issues).

The problem with direct sowing for us here is that the birds and voles and moles and erradic weather patterns disrupt the growing cycle and so 'wintersowing' in the little covered containers works more effectively. So I do 'wintersow' perennials starting in February--not much earlier because of the muss and fuss you talked about.

But I don't 'wintersow' my tender annuals like zinnias until springtime (nearer last frost date) in our zone 6 weather.

And sometimes in spring and summer I start seeds in big pots close to the house so that I remember to keep them watered and a bit protected from the birds, etc. These can be tender annuals in the spring (I did zinnias like this up until June) or a sowing of perennials/biennials in mid-summer (like digitalis, and then plant the small plants out into the garden in September to root out for bloom next summer.)

Also If you are interested in starting a wide range of plants from seed and not using wintersowing, check out the "Deno Method" too. It's kind of neat.

And there is a nice thread on the propagation forum, I think, about flowers that 'reseed' in the garden, by themselves...of course, there are different results on this, dpending on your garden conditions...in our garden about the only thing that will reseed is 'verbena bonarienses'....

Ummm...hope this info is a bit of a help....I think a lot of seed sowing is by trial and error and whatever works for your garden conditions, how much you are willing to baby the plants, and the kinds of flowers you want in your garden....

Anyway, I've had fun trying to grow from seed. If it weren't for wintersowing, I wouldn't have gotten going on it (seed sowing)...

Let us see your results, by the way!? Any pics of your garden?



Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

I'm sorry for the confusion... I means direct sowing in fall/winter... of course, direct sowing can be done in any season!

Tabasco, thanks! That's just the sort of clear and detailed answer we needed... and now I have to look up the Deno Method.

Pawling, NY(Zone 5b)

Me too.. Never heard of the Deno Method..

Springfield, MA(Zone 6a)

Okay - I have all these little plants that I started this summer (all perennials) but I am talking small . . . I am thinking I need to plant these around Sept 15 to ensure that they are established before hard frost. Is there a reasonable chance they will survive? I mean, how big do they have to be?

Landenberg, PA(Zone 6b)


Thanks for the great information. I'm going to experiment.

I'm in zone 6b - If I wintersow delphiniums, columbine and foxgloves this year - do any of you think they will flower spring/summer 2008?

Thanks

(will also be checking out that 'Deno' method!

Springfield, MA(Zone 6a)

I wintersowed delphiniums last winter and they are now in blossom (not in early summer which they will probably do next year). The foxglove are biannuals - so if you sow them this winter, you will have lovely large, green, velvety ground cover the first year, and the second year you will have flowers - after that they will resow themselves.

I don't recall that any of the columbine flowered this year - but just wait until next year!

Landenberg, PA(Zone 6b)


Thanks Seandor.


Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

Foxglove foxy can bloom in it's 1st year. Some of mine did, some didn't bloom until their 2nd year.

Origami columbine is supposed to bloom in it's first year, though mine didn't bloom until their 2nd.

Karen

Landenberg, PA(Zone 6b)

Thanks Karen.

So I think I'm hearing that generally wintersowing will not give an earlier bloom time than direct sowing - I'm still still going to experiment...............interesting stuff!

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

It depends on the plant... For annuals, I get the earliest bloom with an indoor start (duh), followed by wintersowing, followed by direct sowing. But many perennials won't bloom until their second year, regardless.

Ellicott City, MD(Zone 7a)

I have gotten earlier blooms by keeping the plant root bound in a pot. A good example of this is Tricyrtis 'White Tower' which bloomed the first Summer.

One more reason to winter sow vs. direct sowing is for uniformity. Direct sowing can produce spotty germination, which leaves gaps in your garden. With winter sowing you transplant the seedlings exactly where you want them.

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

I WSed a few 4:00 this year, but had a million volunteers come up in the bed from last year. The WSed bloomed weeks before the volunteers.

Karen

Lewisburg, KY(Zone 6a)

My first try was a bust. How do you keep the gallon jugs moist? I didn't have very high germination rate. Are you using Promix or potting soil. I used gallon milk jugs for mine. Does anyone leave them in a baby pool for bottom watering?
Teresa

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)


The "Deno Method" is basically the 'paper towel' germination technique--it's explained in detail about half way down this page linked from 'the seedsite':

http://www.theseedsite.co.uk/seedsowing.html

Lots of good info here.

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Thanks for the link, tabasco!

BGmom, sometimes my WSing containers don't get enough rain, and then I do bottom water them. You want the mix to be moist but not sopping, so don't let them sit in water.

I have a "collection" of old black plastic flats that I used to use on my seed starting shelves, and now I put my WSing containers in them... Many of them got little holes or breaks in them just with age/use, and I poked holes in the corners of those that didn't have them. Whether I water with a hose or whether they get rain water, the flats collect the water long enough for the mix in the containers to soak it up, and then excess water slowly drains away through the small holes. So I think a child's wading pool would work great... but you'd need to either empty out the extra water or poke a couple of little holes near the edge.

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

BGMom: Since you live in KY, I'm assuming that you had as hot and dry a spring as we had here. You have to water them frequently in those conditions, at least once a day. I use a misting spray from the hose, or a misting sprinkler. If really dry, I bottom water in a tub so that the water level in the tub is about as high as the potting mix. I let each jug sit in that bath for a couple of minutes, then remove them and plop the next bunch in. That way, each is completely saturated. I never let them sit in the tub in between waterings. It also helps to keep them in shade when the weather is hot.

I use mostly Pro-Mix, but I have used Miracle Grow too. Both worked well for me.

Karen

Landenberg, PA(Zone 6b)

This is a photo of my first 'direct sown' garden as of last week. some of it is in shade - so not the best picture

I sowed:

box of pelleted impatiens seeds
packet of zinnia seeds
packet of nasturtium seeds
packet of mixed wildflower seeds for shade (the only ones in bloom are the rudbekia but there are some other baby perennial plants lurking underneath the impatiens - which may put in an appearance next year!)

Thumbnail by iclavdivs
Southeast, NE(Zone 5a)

I'd deem that a success!

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

iclavdivs, you win, that's gorgeous! Imagine, though, you had a very large area you wanted to fill with perennials, like Seandor, and you didn't want to pay for each one. I'm agreeing, though, about most annuals. The zinnias I sowed directly in pots in June (?) are blooming now - I think if I'd done them in April I would had them blooming in August. my previous method of starting seeds - direct sowing, that is - was to go to a corner of the yard where even weeds wouldn't grow and scratch a hole in the dirt and dump in the seeds. I'd come back two or three months later and conclude I couldn't start things from seeds. Now that I know I can, I will!

(Pat) Kennewick, WA(Zone 5b)

"my previous method of starting seeds - direct sowing, that is - was to go to a corner of the yard where even weeds wouldn't grow and scratch a hole in the dirt and dump in the seeds." TOO funny!! You chose an area that was NOT plant friendly and were surprised when nothing you planted grew!!! LOL... I'm so glad you have changed your "test methods" and are successful now! Aw Carrie, you crack me up! ;-)

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

Strange, people keep telling me that!

Actually I wasn't all that surprised; I chose a way to test my theory that I couldn't grow seeds that was designed to prove that I couldn't grow seeds!

But, thank you for the compliment....

Long Island, NY(Zone 6b)

I have had amazing success with w/s.
Yes it's a pain to transplant them come spring, but we would be doing that anyway if we bought them at the nursery or grew them indoors.
I am trying a few direct sowings and w/s of the same plant to compare. I did that with columbine this year. I d/s the seed when the plant would have done it naturally. I have tons of babies and will see how they do next spring after being out all winter as they would have done without my interference. I have plants that don't reseed on their own from one year to the next, but they do wintersow. I also have w/s plants that didn't germinate either year, so I'll start those indoors this year. I also have plants that don't give me the early color I want when w/s such as impatiens. They w/s real well, but I don't get anything out of them until the end of August. I just buy them at the nursery as I don't have the room to sow as many as I use.

The best word of advice for the newbies - trial and error - I've been keeping records so I'll be able to make educated decisions for what works for me.

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

I still say wintersowing is most amazing for those of us with no seed-sowing success stories. Now, I'm able to contemplate direct sowing. And I have NO indoor apace to start anything, at least, not until DD #1 graduates from college and is Out for Good with a Real Job.

(Pat) Kennewick, WA(Zone 5b)

Carrie... Heheheh... after the poor girl leaves for college, and the front door slams shut behind her, will there be a place for her to stay for the Holidays? or will she have to move the plants to sleep???

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

P,S. Now that I'm an expert wintersower (LOL lOl LOL) can I direct sow those annuals that would have self-sowed if I had known where to plant them before they bloomed? Like cosmos, bachelor's buttons, annual poppies.

xx, Carrie

(Pat) Kennewick, WA(Zone 5b)

OF course!!! That's the only ones I have faith in, or experience with!

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

And this time I might, er, till the soil a little? Mark where I put them? Water them after I plant them?

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Anyone start morning glories in this fashion? winter seeding?

Rj

(Pat) Kennewick, WA(Zone 5b)

I wish... my Morning Glories are sooooo late I doubt I'll get any seeds from them. But I do have a few leftover from this year, so I'll probably try a couple. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and learned!

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

I have a bunch of seeds from last year. This year was not a good Morning Glory year here...I think too much rain. It was like Central America's rainy season..tropicals loved it, but nary a morning glory to be seen for quite a while..there is some activity going on now, and I do have Hawaiin wood rose doing rather well, sadly they are winter bloomers so..it'll be hit or miss as to whether they bloom or not.
I am debating whether or not to start some of the mg seeds I have...like you say..nothing ventured!

(Pat) Kennewick, WA(Zone 5b)

My son sent me Hawaiin Wood Rose seeds and I nicked a few, put it in water to soak and then got the call my brother had died. I grabbed my stuff and hit the road. Days later when I returned you can imagine what I found! I wish I had the good sense to not soak ALL of them! Oh well... I have plenty of MG seeds friends send me so I think I will try a few direct. THANKS for tweeking my memory to do that!

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Sure! Sorry about your DB.
So far the first year was tenuous for them, but the second season despite a freeze they came back, so I'm really hoping for some yellow flowers.

I use to live in Boise, and Garden City...graduated from boarding school in Caldwell! I still even rememer the street in Boise...was Cataldo Dr. we use to lay in the street in the evening to watch the night hawks during the summer.

(Pat) Kennewick, WA(Zone 5b)

Really, small world huh? We're close to State street and Glenwood (technically in Garden City). I've only been here a year but the climate etc is very similar to what I'm used to so not a lot of adjustment on that.

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