To sow or not to sow....

Emory, TX(Zone 8a)


This is a very long post, and I beg your patience. I am a newbie at starting seeds in general...and a pitiful newbie at wintersowing. I am trying really hard...

I have read many threads on this site, hung out for hours in Plant Files. I've studied germination charts and made notes on my seed envelopes. I have been to the wintersown site...I have googled, and oogled until I can stand it no more. (I even d-mailed Trudy once....) You would think with all this preparation I would know what to do, but all I do is get more undecided. I hope no one will tell me just to forget it, that I am hopeless!!! I do want to do it... I want to grow all these pretty plants and flowers I have been collecting.

I have TONS of seeds... I've collected bunches of containers for wintersowing... I also have shelves and grow lights and pots for indoors...I have Miracle grow potting soil, peat and filters and H2O2. And I just don't know what to plant where. So many of the seeds can be done either way... I have decided that a simple way to start would be to wintersow anything that needs stratification. WOW!!! but then I start worrying about if our cold weather is enough for these types of seeds. (East Texas, 8a) So I think I should put them in the fridge anyway... Yes or no? Then I hear not to wintersow tender plants so I am thinking that perhaps annuals are the types of seeds that need to be started indoors. Is that it? If not, what is tender?

Then there are the seeds that need to be nicked and soaked. And I am sure that this is not to be done if you are wintersowing because nature will take acare of it. But regarding the canna seeds I have, I was told if I just plant them they will take years to germinate. I experimented with some of those already...drilled the hole, soaked and planted 6 seeds and all but one came up and are growing. So which of these types of seeds do I need to soak and plant indoors and which can be wintersown? In a case like the cannas, would you still drill the hole and then wintersow instead of soaking it?

And then the subject of sterilization comes up, and I hear that it is not necessary when wintersowing. So I can use the miracle grow potting soil even if it has been sitting outside (unopened)?

If this has not overwhelmed you, and sent you screaming out of the room in frustration, perhaps some of you could try to straighten me out?

(At this point I find it quite ironic to call myself yardqueen)

West Pottsgrove, PA(Zone 6b)

Well, I have one short answer for you. When I have doubt about how best to sow some seeds, I try a couple different ways. I've never wintersown before either, but I had a close friend who was VERY successful at it, and I got the impression that a lot of the details just aren't that big a deal...plants want to grow, and if you give them half a chance, they will!

North West, OH(Zone 5b)

LOL Carol your post cracked me up. Is it so "me!" Although I did a good deal of indoor seed starting last year I am still very much a newbie. And let's face it some of this info can be overwhelming. But in my limited experience Claypa is right. I've had pretty good luck with trial and error and I guess we shall learn as we go, eh? Hang in there girl. With our determination we're surly bound to get at least part of it right. ;-)

Emory, TX(Zone 8a)

Ya'll are right... I am stressing over it too much. So if you start seeds indoors do you sterilize your pots and medium? DO you use soil or peat/perlite? ANd if you water with an H2O2 solution would that mean you don't have to sterilize?

Emory, TX(Zone 8a)

I forgot to say that I am going to quit stressing and just do it! I am going to do some inside and some out. That is why the question soil sterilization. I promise it is the last one!

Ellicott City, MD(Zone 7a)

Hi Carol,

It sounds like your definitely a very enthusiastic gardener. So, I know that wintersowing should make you very happy.

Is your weather cold enough? I would say 'yes'. Didn't you just get some snow and freezing temperatures in Texas just a day or two ago? If you need to wear a sweater or light jacket outside, it's cold enough for wintersowing.

Drilling seeds? Ouch, be careful....that sounds like a trip to the emergency room if the seed wiggles. No need for all that with wintersowing. Mother Nature takes care of seed stratification with the constant fluctuation in temperatures. She's also very good about watering too, but if not, please add H2O.

Start with seeds that take the longest to germinate like trees, shrubs, perennials, hardy annuals & grasses, plus cold loving veggies.

If your unopened bag of potting soil has been sitting outside, it's perfectly okay to use. Your seeds won't mind one bit.

I love your humor. Keep smiling and remember to enjoy the process of wintersowing.

West Pottsgrove, PA(Zone 6b)

I wash containers in 10% bleach, if I remember to. Two ounces of the hydrogen peroxide from the drug store (which is 3%) to a gallon of water. The H2O2 is for the soil, not the containers, so I do both. For soil, I mix up my own with what's around- peat, turface, soil, bark fines, etc.

I don't think the hydrogen peroxide sterilizes, really. I still get mushrooms sometimes! I 'worry' about cleaning stuff a lot more indoors than out.

Cordele, GA(Zone 8a)

Hi Yardqueen, don't worry, mother nature will take care of it. Shirley1md 's advise (and others) is right on. She calmed my nerves down a bit by reminding me to just take that leap of faith. You've already gotten through the worrying and the reading/researching part of being a newbie.
I don't know how long we will be considered newbies, beginners, novices or tyros. But one things for sure, it will be after we can, in good conscience, thin out seedlings to the strongest without feeling we've committed first degree murder.
Good luck to you and please post often.

Emory, TX(Zone 8a)

Deborah, [qoute]it will be after we can, in good conscience, thin out seedlings to the strongest without feeling we've committed first degree murder.[/quote]

I can't see me ever getting to that point!!! LOL I feel bad if I drop a SEEDr! I will probably wanqt to try to save the pulled seedlings...

Claypa, What I was thinking about the use of h2o2 for watering was that I understood it prevented damping off, which is why I thought we sterilize...Is that not correct? Or is there a piece of the puzzle I am missing?


Is your weather cold enough? I would say 'yes'. Didn't you just get some snow and freezing temperatures in Texas just a day or two ago? If you need to wear a sweater or light jacket outside, it's cold enough for wintersowing.

Yes to all of the above but I don't know how much more cold we will get, much less freezing... and I don't know if what we do get will be enough...

Emory, TX(Zone 8a)

Deborah, I messed up on your quote! And I can't edit it till tomorrow cause my per day edit limit has been reached! I didn't know we had a limit until I used mine up on the test forum trying to learn how to quote and do bold, italic, and underline...LOL


West Pottsgrove, PA(Zone 6b)

Yes, but don't believe it will actually 'sterilize' anything... It helps, it helps a lot, but it's not actually 'sterile' like surgery or anything

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

Seeds don't need sub-freezing temps for stratification, just cold. Think refrigerator vs. freezer.

There is NO damp-off with WSing. Just not an issue. I don't sterilize anything. In fact, I don't even wash with soap, I just rinse with tap water. The exception is if I get a really stinky, sour milk jug from someone else- then I soak in bleach water for a few minutes to kill the smell! No peroxide here either. Just tap water and seeds.


Emory, TX(Zone 8a)


Thanks! But just one more question...maybe two? How long do they have to be cold days in a row I mean, cause we fluctuate so much and that is why I am concerned. Most of the time it is not even cold in the day at all. Last week we had our coldest weather we have had in a long time. I wish I had done the wintersowing before this... We are going to have another spell soon, but it won't last more than 3 days I am sure. This is TEXAS "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute..."


Lima, OH(Zone 5b)

yardqueen, I have been doing the same thing, spending hours surfing for info, and not getting started. My hubby describes me as "paralysis by analysis." So today we shall begin! My best bet will be to return here for help. THANKS to all who respond to us beginners.

Emory, TX(Zone 8a)


"paralysis by analysis."
I love this!!! I now have the answer to what my problem is... I can't wait to share this with those who will appreciate it!!! LOL Yes I am beginning today also...right or wrong, too late or not, I am going to try. I have alloted myself several hours today to start the wintersowing. Probably the worst part will be making holes in all of the containers, and deciding where to put the containers once they are sown. I will have a lot as I have 58 seed packets that I am planning to WS. I will not plant all of the seeds in a packet but a few of each one and a few dozen of others. I can see this easily exceeding hundreds of containers, becasue some of them I am planning to use for individual plants. They are 16 oz water bottles that will work out to being the size of a 3x4 pot. I think they will work. I have LOTS of those and 2 liters, and other larger containers for HOS sowing... So I guess I am ready, and now I am excited!

Emory, TX(Zone 8a)

Oh, and if I run out of contaners, i am going to use the baggie method...

Paris, TN(Zone 6b)

Yardqueen, you have soooo cracked me up! I keep thinking "we're all making this too hard!" I mean, plant seeds fall on the non-sterile, weed-infested, ground every day and they still grow. They get water when it rains and I don't think it has hydrogen peroxide in it (at least I hope not!) I think with WSing all we are doing is controlling how many and what we'd like to have pop up in our gardens for spring, and a chance to pre-plan where we'd like to put them.

Sometimes I get so stupidly involved with note-taking, making sure I've done what I think I need to do, and get distracted and forget the joy of seedlings - you know, just watching the miracle that G-d has poured into those incredibly small but beautful things that make our life pleasant!



Emory, TX(Zone 8a)

Sunny, I was talking about watering with h2o2 solution on the seeds/seedlings started indoors under grow lights. I am doing this with some and WS with some...

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

All seeds have their own specifics for length of time with stratification; It is not the same for every type of seed.
You can check Tom Clothier's site, and he's pretty specific with his germination database.
Also, T&M often list that info with their sowing directions. For example:

Please don't think I'm an expert here. This is only my 2nd try at WSing, and maybe I just got lucky last year. I didn't really try to overthink things like strat times. If I thought strat might help I put out early as opposed to late. Most annuals don't seem to need cold (though they tolerate it, and a few like Bells of Ireland DO need it) so I sowed them later in the season. Also, I can only speak about what I did in zone 6. Someone from your own zone, like Shirley, might be of more help. If you are concerned about them not getting enough cold, put them in the shade as opposed to the sunny side of your house, or shade with shade cloth, lawn chairs, laundry baskets, or whatever is on hand.


Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

Actually one of the reasons for watering plants with peroxide is that it has an extra hydrogen molecule, like rain water!

If you are killing a plant with kindness by overwatering, flushing with H2O2 solution can get more O2 to the roots.


Paris, TN(Zone 6b)

Sorry if I offended you yardqueen, I didn't mean to imply anything specifc...I was just pointing out how I tend to overreact and overanalyze and found your post funny since I'd had the same paralysis myself.

Thanks for the info on the H202 Karen, and it's similarity to rainwater. I just collect rainwater in buckets and water my indoor starts with that :)


Emory, TX(Zone 8a)


You didn't offend me! I was explaining that I will be using the h202 seeds I am starting indoors becasue they are subject to damping off. I have so many seeds and I am doing some inside and some outside.


Long Island, NY(Zone 6b)

That was very interesting about the peroxide -thanks for sharing. I use rain water or dehumidifier water. I have added H2O2 before, but will probably use it more readily now.

Ellicott City, MD(Zone 7a)

Chamomille tea also prevents damping off...........not a problem when one wintersows! :~0

West Pottsgrove, PA(Zone 6b)

I want to just point out that the concentration of hydrogen peroxide in that link above is twice as strong as what most people use on plants. (Also the statements about cancer therapy are counter to the FDA's recent statements, and more recent cancer research.)

What I've seen reccomended around Dave's Garden is 2 oz. of H2O2 per gallon of water, or 1 Tbsp.H2O2 per quart of water. This is using the usual 3% peroxide from the store. Sometimes it comes in different strengths.
I water my houseplants with this all the time, it's great.

Emory, TX(Zone 8a)

My information says to use 1 oz. per quart for watering and spraying...

West Pottsgrove, PA(Zone 6b)

You can use it even stronger than that, too, say if a plant has root rot that you want to kill.
Just curious, what's the source for that, yardqueen?

Emory, TX(Zone 8a)

LOL...I knew you would ask that..And I don't know but it was in an article someone posted a link to on DG and I copied and pasted it in my journal. Here is a link to the part of my journal that it is in. The info I refered to is about 1/2 down the page.

This message was edited Jan 23, 2007 12:22 AM

This message was edited Jan 23, 2007 12:24 AM

West Pottsgrove, PA(Zone 6b)

I don't find it. . . I have a hard time with my own journal. LOL Anyway, googling around, I see different stuff, like farmers using 6% for pest control and what have you. I'll see if the U.Minn. site says anything about it.

As long as we don't suffer 'paralysis by analysis'! I did get twenty more gallon jugs planted today.

Okay, I found a few posts about it here...tapla and critterologist are using the 2 oz./ gal., and Badseed mentioned using 1 to 9 to kill damping off fungus, which is a lot stronger.
I have a couple dozen daylily crosses going under lights that I use the peroxide on. And when I wet down the winter sowing jugs the first time, the day before I put the seeds in, I soak them with the peroxide water.

This message was edited Jan 23, 2007 2:29 AM

Emory, TX(Zone 8a)

That link takes you to the page so you don't have to look for it...just go to the page the link takes you to and pull your scoll bar half way down. that is the part about the concentratio used for watering, etc. The whole article is about the use of h2o2, and that part in particular is one person's experience using it with germinating seeds. One thing that is concerning me now, and causing a few twinges of paralysis...I have read where you shouldn't use tap water to mix with the h2o2... I cant afford distilled water for all my plants...LOL

West Pottsgrove, PA(Zone 6b)

I'm seeing hummingbird food, malathion and bomide, and not much scrolling opportunity. . .must check glasses...

You can age the water for a day to get rid of the chlorine so it won't react with the H2O2, which it will do, quickly.The spare atom of oxygen will react with the chlorine and form something else entirely, then a molecule air, one of water, and an atom of chlorine. I don't think it would hurt plants any more than chlorinated water, it just won't have the spare oxygen atom you wanted in the first place. So just age the water, no more twinges. :)

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

Yardqueen: I see the same as Claypa. But then, I've not figured out how to use my own journal, either.
I didn't know I was opening such a big can of worms with that peroxide link!


Emory, TX(Zone 8a)

It is under all of that but here it is ... I copied and pasted here

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

1 oz 3% H2O2 to 1 quart water for wateriing or spraying

1 oz 3% H2O2 to 1 gal water for soaking seeds

Sprouting seeds: Add 1 oz. of 3% food grade hydrogen peroxide to 1 pint of water and soak the seeds overnight. Add the same amount of H202 each time the seeds are rinsed.

I have used H2O2 for a couple of years now. I soak my seeds in it (maybe a couple of tablespoons per gallon), I put it in the water that I water the seedlings with, and I put it in the spritzer bottle. Zero damping off.

This method has proven invaluble this year. I have used the H2O2/H2O solution to soak the seeds, placed them in zip lock baggies wrapped in layers of paper towels soaked with more of the sloution.

I have had incredible high germination percetages.Here's a sample:
Hibiscus sprouts 66 of 72 seeds sprouted

I just soaked some un-nicked moonflower seeds... for 2 days. Over half had sprouts in the peroxide water!

I did the water/H2O2 mix with my sunflower seeds and the germination was so fun to watch. I got really excited about seeing them all sprout in the wide mouth jar I had them in. Since I did so many seeds, (started with 500) I did change the water out every few days and put in fresh. I could always see the air bubbles attached to the little seeds and it was fun. This was my first attmept at growing from seed, so I can't compare it to any previous experience. I now have 50+ sunflowers growing in a single bed !! The remaining 450 didn't make it due to lack of small pots to put them in!

I misted layers of paper towels with the H2O2 solution so they were just damp, like a wrung out sponge. I rolled the tubers in the paper towels, put in a plastic bag and kept in a cool location (ranunculus need cool temps to germinate). I checked them daily and misted as needed. I removed the tubers when they developed roots or shoots and potted them up.
The crucial thing with ranunculus is moisture and temperature. If they are too wet or warm they will rot. So it was really important to keep the towels damp but not wet. In the past when I planted them in directly in pots with soil-less potting mix they usually rotted, I couldn't regulate the degree of dampness well enough.

Today I found my P. Edulis all droopy and limp from no sun and way too much water. Well I pulled the saucer out from underneath the pot and took a glass of water w/ about 2 tsp.'s of 3.5% H202 and poured the mix through the pot and allowed it to drain. I came back out maybe 15 minutes later to find the same plant standing at attention as if it hadn't had any problems at all. My wife still is in aww.LOL I knew it was a lack of oxygen due to it sitting in a saucer full of water and the soil was dripping wet. BAM! Yet another use for H202. I knew it work but I had no idea it would work so fast;)


Foliar Feed: For crops, put 16 ozs. of 35% food grade hydrogen peroxide into 20 gallons of water. This is sufficient for one acre. Spray on plants early in the morning.

Seed Germination: To germinate seeds put 1 to 5 ozs. of 3% hydrogen peroxide into a pint of distilled water. Soak the seeds for 8 hours. Excellent results have been reported on older seeds as well as fresh.

Insecticide: Mix 8 ozs. or more of 3% H202 to a gallon of water with 8 ozs. of molasses or white sugar (molasses seems to adhere to the plant better).

House & Garden Plants: Put 1 oz. of 3% H202 into a quart of water (or add 16 drops 35% to 1 quart water). Water or mist plants with this solution.

Orchards: Water ground around the trees using 6-8 ozs. of 3% food grade hydrogen peroxide to a gallon of water, and also use it as a foliar spray.


To make a 3% H202 solution, take one (1) ounce of 35% food grade hydrogen peroxide and mix with 11 ounces of water, preferably distilled water, to obtain 12 ounces of 3% H202.

1 Pint 35% food grade hydrogen peroxide makes 1.5 gallons of 3% H2O2 solution.

1 Quart 35% food grade hydrogen peroxide makes 3 gallons of 3% H2O2 solution.

1 Gallon 35% food grade hydrogen peroxide makes 12 gallons of 3% H202 solution.


3% Hydrogen Peroxide (Drug/Grocery Store Variety) Used as antimicrobial agent for treating wounds and sanitizing agent [Made from 50% Super D Peroxide, Diluted. Contains stabilizers - phenol, acetanilide, sodium stanate, tetrasodium phosphate among them.] [This peroxide contains known chemicals do not ingest!]

6% Hydrogen Peroxide Used by Beauticians for Coloring Hair. Used as sanitizing agent. Comes in strengths labeled 10,20,40 volume. Must have activator added to be used as a bleach. [Contains stabilizers, additives, and impurities dependent on manufacturing and dilution process. Do not ingest.]

30% Re-Agent Hydrogen Peroxide Used in medical research. [Contains stabilizers, additives, and impurities dependent on manufacturing and dilution process. Do not ingest.]

30-32% Electronic Grade Hydrogen Peroxide Used for washing transistors and integrated chip parts before assembly. [Contains stabilizers, additives, and impurities dependent on manufacturing and dilution process. Do not ingest.]

35% Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide (Also 50% Food Grade H2O2) Used in food products like cheese, eggs, whey products. Also used to spray inside of foil lined containers for food storage - known as the aseptic packaging system. Used for the disinfection of potable water. Also used (diluted) to disinfect, kill bacteria, sanitize wounds and introduce oxygen into the body. Eg. bathing, gargle, toothpaste, treat drinking water, etc. [Contains stabilizers, additives, and impurities dependent on manufacturing and dilution process.]

35% Technical Grade Hydrogen Peroxide Used for waste water treatment and the disinfection of potable water, cosmetics, and laundry applications. Also used (diluted) to disinfect, kill bacteria, sanitize wounds and introduce oxygen into the body. Eg. bathing, gargle, toothpaste, treat drinking water, etc. [May contain a small amount of phosphorus to neutralize any chlorine in the water it is combined with.]

35% Standard Grade Hydrogen Peroxide (Also 50%, 60%, 70% Standard Grades) Used mainly for bleaching in the pulp and paper industry and in the textile industry; oxidation reactions in the chemical industry; environmental processes (detoxification and deodorization). Used for Waste water treatment. [Contains stabilizers, additives, and impurities Do not ingest.]

90% Hydrogen Peroxide Used by the military as a source of Oxygen at Cape Canaveral. Used as a propulsion source in rocket fuel.

99.6% Hydrogen Peroxide This was first made in 1954 as an experiment to see how pure a hydrogen peroxide could be manufactured.

WARNING: This product is a VERY strong oxidizer and will temporarily turn skin white on contact. NEVER use 35% food grade Hydrogen Peroxide without diluting it first. Read First Aid precautions on label before using. Storage: Keep out of flourescent light. Store in a cool dark place.

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

Geez! See, that indoor seed-starting thing is too much work for me. Know what I did with my hibiscus last year? Just stuck them in dirt and plopped them outside. I think I planted 4 seeds and had 100% germination with no soaking, no peroxide or anything else. I planted 2 in a protected, shady bed which grew and were healthy but didn't bloom. The other 2 planted out in full sun grew and bloomed in their first year.


West Pottsgrove, PA(Zone 6b)

Karen, you're right, starting seeds indoors is a big pain, for me anyway. I still do some, though.
Yardqueen, who wrote that?

Painesville, OH(Zone 5b)

Yardqueen said, "I can't see me ever getting to that point!!! LOL I feel bad if I drop a SEED! I will probably want to try to save the pulled seedlings..."

ITA! I just can't bring myself to thin seedlings out, so I usually only plant 1 seed per peat pot. If I get a pot where the seed didn't germinate, I simply put another seed in and try again. I like doing it this way because I don't waste any seeds. When I have more than I can use, I am happy to pass them on to people who can. Just my 2 cents, Tamara

Emory, TX(Zone 8a)


I don't know who wrote the article above. There was a link to it somewhere on DG but I don't even remember what forum. I will try to find out when I have time.

Thomasville, GA(Zone 8a)

We all go through many processes to get beautiful plants and I know that my Cherokee Indian grandmother did not do anything to her plants but put them in the ground. I am going to WS for the first time, and as many of you have been reading and listing, copying, and rereading on how to do this the correct way. There are so many ideas and different systems that it really gets confusing. Maybe I'll just stick them in a pot or container and pray for the best. I love all the comments. This is a great forum.

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