Winter Sown Germination

Ellicott City, MD(Zone 7a)

What has germinated that you have wintersown in 2005-2006 so far?

Lupines - 4 different varieties
Hollyhock, "After Midnight"

Long Island, NY(Zone 6b)

nothing yet for me - when did you sow yours Shirley?

Lee's Summit, MO(Zone 6a)

None as of this morning.

North Augusta, SC(Zone 8a)

Salvia and clarkia has already sprouted. But it's been really warm here....still waiting for winter!!!

Ellicott City, MD(Zone 7a)

I celebrated Winter Soltice by sowing seeds beginning December 21st. We've had very mild temps also in the Mid-Atlantic. Don't despair Anita & Kay, before you know it those little green sprouts will be poking through your soil! Please keep us updated!

Fantastic news, alicewho! What type of Salvia germinated already?

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Shirley, won't those tender little sprouts freeze to death if the temperature plummets again next month? I did my wintersowing in February last year & was relieved when nothing sprouted until early spring... I figured the greenhouse effect of the lids would protect them from frost, but maybe not from single digit temps!

Weedville, PA(Zone 6a)

I was wondering the same thing as critter. This is the only part of w/s that I don't get. What will protect the little sprouts that come up during a 2 week warm spell when the temps go back down to the teens?

Long Island, NY(Zone 6b)

If you want to read a FAQ about this go to , it was very helpful to me.

Ellicott City, MD(Zone 7a)

Some seedlings will sprout due to warm spells, some will die off due to cold snaps....but ONLY the strong survive!!! Think about the seeds that have naturally fallen off their plants, overwintered in your garden and grown in the Spring......only Mother Nature is watching over them.

If you want, you can WS some of your hardy perennial (HP) seeds now and wait until next month to sow the rest. Just make sure that you've given Poppies, Asters, and longer germinating plants enough time to grow. If you want flowers on your HP's this Summer, you've got to sow them early enough. Others may not bloom until the following year.

Thanks for supplying the link to Trudi's website! She explains WSing beautifully. The life process continues, without our intervention, thanks to Mother Nature!

This message was edited Jan 19, 2006 1:23 PM

Weedville, PA(Zone 6a)

I've read Trudi's site more than once, thanks for the link. It makes sense now that you say only the strong will survive. That gives me more confidence. I guess one of the things you'd really want to do then is sow enough seed to make sure you have enough strong ones to survive.

I'm just sooooo tired of sowing indoors. Everything gets so out of hand. I don't have the room to sow the amount of things I need to indoors...and I don't have the patience to wait years to get the plants I want. WS seems to be the only feasible answer for me.

I'll look over Trudi's site at least one more time to give myself a refresher of what I've obviously forgotten!

Long Island, NY(Zone 6b)

Someday I'll solve the lack of space by winning lotto and have a HUGE greenhouse and a conservatory! Heck, maybe I'll build TWO greenhouses!

Ellicott City, MD(Zone 7a)

Trudi calls wintersowing a "leap of faith" on her website. Try it and see for yourself! It's the answer to your dilema with sowing indoors!

Weedville, PA(Zone 6a)

Anita, when you win the lotto and are building the ghs and the conservatory please don't forget to build my guest house. LOL I love vines, so I'll need lots of trellises too! he he

Long Island, NY(Zone 6b)

You got it!!! Anyone else??

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Oh, you'll have so many guests in your dream conservatory / guest house.... ! You'd better plan to put in a couple sets of bunk beds, LOL!

Maybe that's why my asters didn't grow for me... I did most of my WS in Feb last year... I'd better hop to it!

Long Island, NY(Zone 6b)

My Clarkia sprouted! I checked the containers this morning. It was in the first bunch done. At first I thought it was 'algae'....

Weedville, PA(Zone 6a)

Hey, if algae counts as something you can ws then I've been at this for years!!! I think I may have even invented ws if algae counts!!

Congrats on the Clarkia! :)

Long Island, NY(Zone 6b)

Thanks! It germinated - 'my chicken hatched' - but I don't think that phrase works with this - let's see if it blooms 'the fat lady sings'!!!

Congrats on inventing wintersowing!!! Hee Hee

Arlington, GA(Zone 8a)

so far I have Dahlia cactus,osteospermum,tigridia pavonia,
amaranthus, clematis,hollyhocks, yarrow,mexican marigold,monarda all showing great seedlings.we did have to move the hollyhocks and dahlia cactus to the greenhouse
and repot because of size.

Cullowhee, NC(Zone 6b)

Except for California poppy in situ, I've never wintersown. I have read most of Trudi's essay, but I'm lazy and would just like to ask direct questions.

Question 1: If I have a cold frame with a lid and plan to use clay and plastic pots, do I still need to cover each one inside the cold frame, and cut slits?
Question 2: Do you really just water them once when you sow and never again until they sprout?
Question 3: Are the following good candidates for wintersowing in my Zone 6B garden: Antirrhinum majus, Aquilegia canadensis and A. caerulea, larkspur?

Long Island, NY(Zone 6b)

I checked my far for germination

Clarkia elegans
Clarkia Amoena [Godetia]
Califonria Poppy


Ellicott City, MD(Zone 7a)

Critter, you need to sow your Asters NOW! They take a long time to germinate & grow.

Fantastic news, Anita!

I feel like a Mother Hen watching over all her seedlings. I just found 3 more containers that sprouted seeds. Now, I have to match them up with my list to find out what they are!

Awesome georgiagarden3!! Repotting already.....they'll be blooming by this Summer!!


Question1: Growing inside a cold frame is NOT wintersowing. Your seeds are not growing with the aid of Mother Nature in a totally natural environment. Why are you using clay pots, unless you have sown Cactus or other succulants? Clay dries out too quickly! Plastic or recycled containers are utilized for wintersowing.

Question 2: You water only if your containers do not receive any form of precipitation or if you've had warm temperatures that would dry out the soil in your containers quickly. If condensation is forming in your containers, they should be fine.

Qustion 3: Yes, all the varieties you have mentioned are good candidates for wintersowing.

Cullowhee, NC(Zone 6b)

shirley1: thanks for the info. I haven't sown anything yet.

I was going to use clay pots because I have so many of them and I like them! I like things to look neat, and I picture a bunch of containers lying around just anywhere, and it does not appeal to me. What I may do, then, is place the containers (used plastic ones from nursery okay?) IN the cold frame, but not close it. Then they will at least be "corralled". But then I will need to fashion lids for them all I suppose.

Marietta, GA(Zone 7b)

okay then, if you like the look of terra cotta, and so do I here is what you do to make them keep their water:
Take a grocery bag and put it into the empty pot and make a hole in the bottom for the drainage. Fill with your potting medium and about 1 inch from the top, cut all around the bag in the pot so that when you fill the remainder, you will not see the bag. Whalla.. terra cotta pot with plastic water retaining properties. i buy those things at yard sales all the time and love them too, and this is how I keep things alive in them! Also, you can get the water absorbing polymers and use those in your mix. Follow the dierctions they really expand!! to buy them for the best deal I've seen.

Happy WS


Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

MissG, there are other ways of sowing seeds outside in winter, and putting pots in your cold frame certainly sounds like it would work... However, if you cover the pots with the cold frame, you will still need to provide water, and you will need to vent your cold frame on warmer or sunnier days, or you will fry your seedlings...

If you're using Trudi's method, I'd do as Susan suggests to keep your clay pots from drying out too fast. You can cover your clay pots with a plastic bag -- put a stick into the pot to make a "tent" out of the bag, seal the bag to the pot with a rubber band, and put a few small slits in the bag for ventillation.

Alternately, I'll bet you could get a big piece of plexi, drill a bunch of little holes in it, and use that as a vented cover for your cold frame.

Long Island, NY(Zone 6b)

The vented plexiglass is an excellent idea critter!! Not only does it vent - but I think the water would get in too.

War, WV(Zone 6b)

I have a question here. If the winter sown sprouts get their true leaves before the danger of frost is over, can you transplant them in the garden?

Long Island, NY(Zone 6b)

that is my question too - If I had to guess I would say no unless you could protect them..cold frame, etc.

any other thoughts?

Long Island, NY(Zone 6b)

2 more popped up! Yippeee

Malva Rose and Phacelia!

Belleville , IL(Zone 6b)

I have foxglove, hollyhocks,gaillardia,bells of Ireland,blackeyed susan and some other thing I keep forgetting the name of, violets, and pansy.
What made me upset was that I tried the pink Morning Glory tree and all four srpouted and then froze. I did have a few more seeds though, that I am starting indoors.
I have daylily seeds in perlite in the fridge but when they sprout, they will be in the garage until spring.

Ellicott City, MD(Zone 7a)

moonbaby8989: What type of plants are you referring to? What zone are you? I know of people in zone 8 who are planting their WS seedlings directly into their gardens. You can either transplant your larger germinated seedlings into individual larger pots or if the ground is not frozen, plant them directly in your garden. This is especially helpful with plants that have long tap roots, like Lupines.

Fantastic news on the germination of Malva Rose and Phacelia, Anita!

Windy: I'm amazed that the Bells of Ireland have already germinated! Aren't they an annual? With this unseasonably warm weather we have all been experiencing for the past month, it's not a wonder that annuals are germinating in February! Why aren't you wintersowing your Daylilies outside? They will be just fine!

Long Island, NY(Zone 6b)

Thanks Shirley - I am hopefully putting out a few more containers tomorrow.

Ellicott City, MD(Zone 7a)

You're welcome Anita! It's raining right now....time to sow more containers!!

Long Island, NY(Zone 6b)

Well - got a few more out

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

anitabryk2--you really are a bundle of energy! That's quite a list and I hope I'm around during plant trading time!

I planted out lupines, larkspur, various annuals, etc., about 10 largish containers. I'm excited but worried because some have sprouted already and our 'false' spring is over.

A leap of faith, but a lot of fun.

Long Island, NY(Zone 6b)

who knows - they might still make it!

Ellicott City, MD(Zone 7a)

"DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY" Remember, ONLY the strong survive! They will be fine. Don't bring them back indoors, that will weaken them!

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