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winter sowing

Coopersburg, PA(Zone 6b)

i'm trying it for the first time this year after having read the following threads:
here's what i planted:
aquilegia, eupatorium, balloon flowers, verbena, rudbeckia, ratibida, daisy, hollyhock, baptisa, poppies, primrose, echinacea, lupine
put the poor babies out when it was 11! the bottles have since 'cleared'

Thumbnail by handhelpers
Muscoda, WI(Zone 4b)

Looking good, Handhelpers! I wish I had soda bottles to use for my containers but everyone around here buys cans. So I used milk jugs. I really hope the 'frosted' plastic will let in enough light.


Fenton, MO(Zone 5b)

Good deal handhelpers, glad you posted that with the seed that you planted. That gives me a clue what is good to try myself, and I have some of those seeds.

I've been experimenting with the peroxide/water soak/germination solution and am really impressed. However, I put some morning glory seeds in between 2 coffee filters soaked with it, (then in a bag) and I see they have sprouted and it only took 2 days! Then one of my friends tells me that morning glories grow really fast and now I'm wondering if I'll be able to keep them alive with as much light as they will need before its time to go outside.

I'm having a blast though, doing all this stuff.


Ripley, MS

I like using the milk jugs better than the soda bottles. Just about every seed you plant will come up and it has more room in the milk jug, I use the gallon size. The biggest hazard I found with WS is you have to be careful of unusually warm days after they sprout. They will fry if you don't lift the lids a little.

Muscoda, WI(Zone 4b)

Sandra...thanks bunches for that info on the milk jugs. I was really concerned about whether I'd made a bad choice on the containers. One thing I did do with the jugs is number them rather than write the names of seeds on them. I figured I'd probably want to reuse them next year. BUT I *did* put marker labels inside in jugs as well as make up a list with the seeds sown in each numbered container. I don't want that much confusion come spring time. :-D


Okeechobee, FL(Zone 10a)

Thank-you Julie, I like numbers, I like list. Very good idea.

Muscoda, WI(Zone 4b)

Thanks sugarweed...DH brought me some el cheapo laundry baskets when he was out shopping, so it looks like I can plant another couple doz containers. ;-) (oh...the laundry baskets are to put my milk jugs in...NOT to do laundry. hehehe)


Indianapolis, IN

You shouldn't put the caps on the bottles of wintersown plants. Leaving the caps off will reduce the chances of your seedlings getting fried on a warm day.

Coopersburg, PA(Zone 6b)

the caps are left on the bottles until spring time when the weather gets warm. there are slits on the upper part of the bottles for air circulation until then [as well as drainage holes on the bottom.]

Muscoda, WI(Zone 4b)

Thanks KLD...HH is correct. I've got slits on the shoulders of the bottles (which I plan to hold open with roofing tacks when the warm weather arrives) plus there's a good deal of drainage to deal with the amount of snow melt that will take place. I've also made sure that the bottles won't be sitting in standing water. So I should be "ok" long as the wind doesn't blow everything away. LOL

Spring can't be too far off...believe it or not, I saw a flock of Robins in front of the house yesterday. I don't know what they're thinking...but I hope they brought a bit of early spring to drop off for me. :-)

P.S. I ended my Winter Sowing spree with 85 milk jugs! :-D

Fenton, MO(Zone 5b)

OH MY! Julie.. thats alot of sowing. hahaha I plan on doing some more this weekend. I dont buy milk by the gallon, so I asked my friends that have bigger families to save them for me. I got quite a few milk jugs and litre bottles to work with now.

Coopersburg, PA(Zone 6b)

85 - oh wow!!!! i'm speechless :>)

Muscoda, WI(Zone 4b)

LOL...I'm only speechless when I think of what's going to happen when they ALL need to get planted in the spring. :-O

Kathy, it's not a lot of sowing when you just pack the bottles with the potting soil, then *dump* a packet of seeds in, spritz it with water, label, mark...come to think of it, it *is* a lot! LOL

I'm planning on keeping this batch of jugs to use again next year. My kids weren't too good at washing the milk jugs before they brought to me. (Yuck! Much rather sterilize DIRT than rotten milk. ;-))



Lincoln, NE(Zone 5b)

Ok, how did the winter sowing go? I tried it and did not have very much luck last winter.


Muscoda, WI(Zone 4b)

Susan...I was literally *overwhelmed* by the success of my WS project. I had SO many seedlings that it got to the point where I didn't know where I was going to plant them all. I ended up giving half of everything to my DIL. She managed to kill those before she got them in the ground. Then I gave her half of what was left...and still had more than I could handle. So I shared those with friends and acquaintances.

Did I have failures? :-D Yep! But some of those "failures" germinated and grew like crazy after I "plopped" the chunk of soil from the containers into a spot in the garden.

I *did* have some seeds that germinated very well over the winter outdoors. But they were "iffy" plants for my zone. They just weren't able to take the hard freezes after they'd begun growing.

Will I do it again? least not on the scale I did it last season. I do have plans on starting a FEW perennials this coming winter...and of course I'll sow my annuals IBLF (indoors before last frost).


Long Island, NY(Zone 6b)

Julie - why would you sow indoors if you had such success?

Muscoda, WI(Zone 4b)

Anita, The only seeds that I'll start IBLF are those that I know won't germinate for and grow for outdoors. Things like the Impatiens that I use in my shade gardens regularly.


Long Island, NY(Zone 6b)

I've read that you can wintersow impatiens. I figured I would try a packet or two - if they don't come up then I'll just buy my usual 2 flats.

Brooklyn, NY(Zone 7b)

Anita - in your zone, you should probably wait a bit on the impatiens. I've sown them in late January-early February with no luck; tried them in early-mid March and they germinated fine, and were blooming by late May. The couple of weeks made all the difference.

Long Island, NY(Zone 6b)

you are probably right - unfortunately I did them yesterday. But I plan on ordering some more - so those I'll plant on your suggestion. I'll let you know the results!


Ffld County, CT(Zone 6b)

I WSed impatiens sucessfully last year, but I can't remember when I sowed them - sorry. They did well, but they were a bit late, as I recall. I don't know that I would WS them again (or sow them at all, for that matter) only because I can buy them so cheaply locally. I will admit, though, that I did sorely neglect them, partially because they WERE so late - I think I thought they were not going to germinate, and then realized they were growing happily away in their milk jugs, lol! Some of the poor things never made it out of the milk cartons! At least this baptisia had the cartons cut back - look at this poor little impatiens blooming in the full milk carton!


Thumbnail by DiggerDee
Northwest, OH(Zone 5b)

I'm leaving my caps off the milk jugs, period.

Moon Twp, PA(Zone 6a)

Absolutely! Threw them away when washing the jugs cuz they need the rain/snow and I am certainly not going to be watering them, LOL ~ Suzi :)

Wauconda, IL

there's generally no need to soak your seeds before winter sowing, especially if you live in an area that has freeze/thaw cycles.

Southwestern, OH(Zone 6b)

Is it too late for me to WS here in my zone? I was thinking I'd try marigolds, something easy.

Dowagiac, MI

Hello All. I am brand new to this forum. I have over 100 milk jugs planted and outside. I cut milk jugs all the way around with the exception of where the handle is. I put in a square of nine, one inch cells in the milk jug, plant the cells, then tape the jug back together. I leave the cap off and make 2 large slits in the bottom. Instead of labeling the milk jug, I write the name of the seed with magic marker on a plastic knife and stick it in the side of one of the cells.

Long Island, NY(Zone 6b)

I did the same as blpender - except I made my 'slits' holes. I actually cut triangular holes at the bottom for drainage. I numbered my container which corresponds to my seed list.

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