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What have you tried?

Southeast, NE(Zone 5a)

I'm participating in the Summerhill co-op, and was trying to pick seeds good for winter sowing. I don't know about some of them...

Is there some way to use the WS database that's easier than what I'm doing? I seem to have to wade through all 27 pages only to discover (sometimes) that what I'm looking for isn't there. I figure I'm not using it right. Any suggestions?

This is what I've tried that I KNOW works in my area or zone:

Nigella (I ordered two kinds from the co-op)
Hibiscus (I only tried hardy types)

I had no luck with sweet peas, but I ordered some Lathyrus anyway. Only 8 seeds to a pack, so I ordered three. Gulp! With $10 worth of sweet pea seeds prior to discount, something should work! I ordered Thunbergia with the plan to direct sow in the spring. Is that best? Thunbergia vines are $20 each around here. I refuse to pay that much for an annual vine. Two years ago I had pansies blooming in the milk jugs before I figured out they'd sprouted.

Just babbling now. If you'd share your experience here, I'd sure appreciate it.

Bartlesville, OK(Zone 6a)

I am just posting so I will be watching. I haven't tried winter sowing but once. It was two years ago and I had milk jugs all over. Everything grew, BUT, it was so thick in there that I never did get them all out. I didn't do it again. How's that for encouragement. LOL

I start mine inside in March, april and May. I can start them outside but in starter cups in mid April and May too. With a hundred and some odd to start, I don't know how I am going to do it.


Southeast, NE(Zone 5a)

My luck outside with wintersowing has been MUCH better than my luck with starting seeds inside. I get the mildew, or damping off, or whatever the heck it is, every time.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

I tried with several different kinds of Sweet peas. Out of 4 flats I ended up with maybe a dozen plants. As you said, very expensive. I didn't try it again. I do believe it makes a difference as to how much snow you get, and how cold it gets.


Valdosta, GA(Zone 8b)

I have had a problem with dampening off in the past but last year I started using coconut coir and it made a tremendous difference. I have not winter sown before but I might try this year during what winter we have here.

My family is in WV and they have had snow and freezing temps. Tonight is our first freeze warning.

Easton, PA(Zone 6b)

I have never tried wintersowing before, but will try this winter. I am reading to see what kinds of seeds are successful.

I have always planted peas/sweet peas mid March, around my grandmother's birthday. It always worked, until last year when we had unseasonably warm weather in February, then freezes in April. I may wait until April 1 this year, depending on the weather.

I was so tired of carrying trays of seeds in and out this spring that I vowed to try a better way!

(Pony) Lakewood, WA(Zone 8a)

I'm going to try wintersowing for my first time- I've been saving milk jugs and deli containers. I just don't have hardly any space at all indoors for starting seeds, so I really hope this will work for me.

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

I've had extremely good results from wintersowing, much better than seed starting inside. I started in 2006 so this will be my fifth year. With wintersowing I have never sterilized the jugs or the planting medium but have never seen dampoff. Honestly, I don't even wash the jugs before using; I just rinse with water.

Dense seedlings don't have to be hard to remove from a jug. It works best to water the jug ahead of time so the soil is fairly moist; it will hold together better. Dump the jug into an old flat. It's OK to dump them on their heads for a minute, they won't notice. Then flip the whole blob right side up in the flat. Take a knife and cut them into hunks whatever size you want, and plant into the garden. Sometimes my hunks are as small as an inch square, sometimes I cut into 6 or 8 hunks. I've even been known to plant the whole blob into one planting hole. When working with very small hunks I plant them into the garden with a spoon.

This stuff is all explained on Trudi's site. She has spent 10 years perfecting these methods and posted them on the web for you so take advantage of it and review her site. A little time spent studying her information will increase your liklihood of a fun and successful WSing year. It will make things a lot easier.
Trudi's HOS:


Sanford, MI(Zone 5a)

thanks Karen this will be my first year ws and to say the least I'm nervous But I keep telling my self the first year is the hardest cuz I'm nervous ;0) this will be fun !!

Valdosta, GA(Zone 8b)


Thank you for the information. :)

Fremont, OH(Zone 5b)

I plan on WS.I did a few last year but didn't really know what I was doing,but did have some success.With all your great advice I should have lots of success this year.
For my zone,when would be the best time to start?

Fremont, OH(Zone 5b)

I would think that any perrenial or Hardy annual that is normally good for your zone could be wintersown.As far as an easier way to look it up - its beyond me!

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

I live in Cincinnati and usually start in January after the holiday mess is over. Or, since I'm not doing so many, maybe it will be February this year. In the meantime I have some coleus, hypoestes and geranium cuttings I'm overwintering under lights to play with. I'll probably play with a few seeds started indoors, too, if I have space under my lights.

Some of my favorite candidates for WSing are rudbeckia, echinacea, penstemon, agastache, columbine, butterfly weed, digitalis, snapdragons, nasturtiums, nigella, petunia, salvia, marigolds, zinnias, forget me nots --- oh heck, I love 'em all.


Fremont, OH(Zone 5b)

The main things I'm trying to ws this year is for a shade garden th at I am starting basically from scratch and I want a large amt of plants in a short time so I thought this would be the fastest and least expensive ay to go.

I've done some geranium cuttings.I had a beautiful coleus that I should have taken cuttings of.But every time I try coleus it doesnt work.Any suggestions?

Carmel, IN(Zone 5b)

I'm also trying WS for the first time this year. I have way too many seeds to start indoors, so hope this will work for me. Lots of good information in this forum, but I'm sure I'll have more questions.
Can't wait to hear about everyone's experience with this.

Simpsonville, SC(Zone 7b)

I tried it last year for the first time. Had fairly good success. There were a handful that never came up, so I will be saving back some of each to try inside if the WS doesn't work with a particular kind of seed. My best successes were with Cleome, Columbine, Liatris, Echinacea (though they came up slow), Cilantro, Campanula, Calendula, Foxglove,
and Stock.

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

violap: when you say every time you try coleus it didn't work, are you talking about wintersown, indoors under lights, or cuttings? I'm pretty new to coleus but find them easy. I only tried WSing coleus once, sown in spring. They stayed way too small until about late July or August when the heat and humidity started cranking. I did start a few indoors last year and they did well. I really prefer to play with cuttings.

I find coleus to be about the easiest plants to grow. Indoors, cuttings under lights do so well with benign neglect- just keep them dry with good light and they take care of themselves pretty well. Just keep them pinched.


Fremont, OH(Zone 5b)

Karen,I did cuttings.Maybe I kept them too wet.No lights.I have a room with skylights that I did them in.I ordered some seed that I'm going to start indoors.

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7a)

Hey everyone:) Made it here finally:lol:

I will have to stop myself from doing way too many jugs--I already forsee that being a problem. I have terrible luck starting anything indoors and really don't have the patience to devote to them.

I'm in a townhome and have a small front bed and a bunch of containers out front as well, a back patio full of containers and I've started digging up alongside the building as I am in a corner/end unit:lol:

Planning to try:

Rudbeckia Tiger Eye
Hollyhock Queeny Purple
Hollyhock Black Currant Whirl
Snapdragon Frosted Sunset and Animation Cognac (Johnny's)
Zinnia Zahara Rose Starlight
Heliotrope Marine
Penstenmon Electric Blue and Violet Dusk
Dianthus Raspberry Ripple and Poem
Various Salvias coccineas (peach, pink, red and white)
Salpiglossis Scarlet and Chocolate
Pansies and violas

Uh, yeah, that is way too much for me:lol: I may end up doing the 2 liter containers rather than the gallon milk jugs.

Southeast, NE(Zone 5a)

Dmac, are those all varieties you've tried winter sowing before, or are you experimenting?

Butting in... right smack in the middle of a conversation

Brand new to wintersowing so I'm watching this thread too. The only thing I've sowed so far out of my purchase is 3 of the 35 Chocolate Streamer Sweet Pea seeds. Talk about baby steps, lol. I figure I would stagger the sowing and maybe I'll get some

Southeast, NE(Zone 5a)

This is what I ordered from the co-op that I have successfully winter sowed before (or at least the same genus):
Alcea Hollyhock 'Peaches N Dreams'
Aquilegia Lime Frost, variegated
Leucanthemum 'Crazy Daisy'
Nigella Love in a Mist Dark Blue
Nigella 'Red Jewel'
Viola, Fuji Dawn variegated foliage
Zinnia Cherry and Ivory Swizzle
Zinnia elegans Envy

These are ones I ordered that I think I'm going to try winter sowing unless someone tells me I'm stupid for trying :-)
Penstemon Electric Blue
Amaranthus 'Early Splendor'
Centaurea Chocolate (C. moschata ssp.suaveolens)

This is what I ordered that I will not winter sow unless someone tells me they have had success:
Thunbergia Susie clear-eyed yellow
Thunbergia Whopper Orange
Basella Rubra, Climbing Spinach
Mina Lobata Exotic Love

These I have no idea what I'm doing: :-) Angele, how did you sow your sweet pea seeds?
Lathyrus Azureus

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

out of these two... .
Penstemon Electric Blue
Centaurea Chocolate (C. moschata ssp.suaveolens)

the Electric Blue... i had 21 seeds and i have 1 seedling. the plant is now in my DR window and i'll baby it thru the winter. I'ts about 5-7" tall. I just want to see it bloom. It's hardy to zone6, where i am 5a. I was thinking i could try it against my south facing foundation and it MAY come back, but since it has not even bloomed yet, I dug it up.

the Centaurea... I know I did these, got them in the Co-Op last year .... i'd have to check my notes, to find what happened, but i do not have them in the garden. I think i may have shared with someone, i should try to track them down and see if they had luck.

Amaranthus sow easily... i've done them the past 2 yrs.

dmac.... Nice list....

McGlory, I just planted them outdoors; one in a pot, two in the ground.. is that wintersowing?

Trenton, MI(Zone 5b)

The Centaurea Chocolate I tried inside and wintersowed last year. Nothing from WSing, and from 5 seeds indoors got only 2 plants.

Southeast, NE(Zone 5a)

tcs, shoot! I never noticed the hardiness, or lack thereof, of the Electric Blue Penstemon. I hear "Penstemon" and I think "hardy." Darn! No, I'd guess winter sowing won't work for those.

Angele, I think that's called direct sowing, but I'm no expert. Maybe someone else will chime in.

toofew, your experience speaks volumes! Let's see what tcs1366 finds out from notes. I'm finding everyone's input very helpful!

you are right, I searched 'what is winter sowing' and clearly says it involves the use of "mini-greenhouses"
I thought it was simply sowing in winter.. we have winter temps even though the calendar says Fall

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

OK... I found my printed spreadsheet... .my notes on the "Chocolate" says....

date sown 3/4/09 - 16 seeds sown, 5 germinated on 3/19/09... and "No idea what happened to them"

I'm sure i planted them out somewhere... I guess I could go out back and see if i can find the plant tag - if i even did one.

I'm not having much luck finding too much inf on this, like annual or perennial or zone.
I did find this...

I could drop SW a note to see how they worked out for her.

Here is a link to my spreadsheet on Google

it should be updated from 2009. I'm currently working on 2010.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

crap -- they are annuals.... so i certainly wont see any blooms.

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7a)

McGlory--I've never done it before even though I've been reading and lurking in this forum for a couple years:)

I put my sweet peas directly in the giant container I would like them to grown in a few days ago. I've tried them inside and we seem to rush right from winter/ frost warnings to a steamy spring and my seedlings never get a chance at mild spring temps. I'm hoping the little guys will know when it's right for them to do their thing and I get some sweet peas this season. Gave all my sweet peas collection away a few years ago so I gathered again this year so I could give in situ a try.

I've looked up some of the lists of seeds that are suitable for WS so I think most qualify. I'm more of an annual girl who likes a few perennials due to my space constraints. Can't deal with big stuff either for the same reasons. I've got my TB iris, daffs, daylilies and hosta addiction I've got to juggle with my seed luv:lol: I'm babying a couple of brugs inside and am thinking of bringing in the two tropical hibiscus on the patio:lol:

Coos Bay, OR(Zone 9a)

I will be reading this thread with interest to see what everyone does. I bought mostly annual seeds, but I guess you can WS annuals, too??? Probably start them in Feb. is my guess.
I do have a cool greenhouse but most of the space is taken up with tomatoes and peppers, squash and basil, etc. I have always started my own veggies, but haven't started annuals and perennials very often.

How do the jugs fair in wind? We have windy days here quite often. I have an outdoor slated bench. Maybe I could tie them to the bench somehow. Hmmm

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

>>How do the jugs fair in wind?

that is why i put mine in cardboard boxes. I have heard some tie a bunch of gallons together to keep them from possibly blowing around. Milk crates will work too.

I think i have a photo around somewhere....

Chicago, IL(Zone 5b)

I wintersowed a lot of Summerhills seeds last year and they did well. all the columbine especially did well. I plan to to the same this year. The annuals I started in early spring and perennials I did from Nov to January.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

My Summer hill seeds were hit or miss.... more on the "miss" end. the coleus did well.
I'm still hoping I can get the Black Current Whirl HH to germinate... i really wanted to see what those looked like.

About half of what i bought, i used all the seeds... I think 4 varieties i still have some left.

Trenton, MI(Zone 5b)

tcs, didn't the cardboard boxes begin to fall apart?

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

not the thicker ones.... actually, most of them held up pretty good. I just threw one of them away today, as the bottom was shot... but most I will reuse this winter. They were the heavy duty type you get from the grocery store/produce.

but -- all the ones i've used have made it thru one season.

Simpsonville, SC(Zone 7b)

I had trouble with cardboard getting mushy. But, this summer I bought a giant black tub in the concrete and mortar section of Lowes, to mix mortar in. It's will probably hold 6-12 WS containers, and the sides are high enough that I can fill it to bottom water. Tougher than the flats I used last year. They were under 5 dollars, so I got a couple, just to have some to haul things around in. Can't wait to give them a try. Moving containers around, and bottom watering them one at a time in a foam cooler I had was a bit of a pain last year :)

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

I keep mine in plastic bins, holes drilled in the bottom. 2 liters are lighter and get blown easily but gallon jugs pretty much stay put even in very high wind.


Port Vincent, LA(Zone 8b)

McGlory, I am so glad you gave us this link. Thank you. I don't think I can contribute, but I can sure ask questions. LOL First time I've ever planted seeds. Thank you all for your wonderful input.


Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

violap: I hope you have better luck this time with the coleus. Then maybe you can try cuttings from those next winter.

There is a coleus forum here at Daves, lots of nice people who share their expertise. I lurk there sometimes, always enjoy all the pretty photos.


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