Will these seeds work for Winter Sowing?

Mid-Cape, MA(Zone 7a)

Hi! I am such a novice to WS--just found the forum, in fact-- but it sounds so appealing and interesting, and I LOVE the opportunities to recycle used containers. I am expecting the following seeds (which I ordered for starting under lights) to arrive any day now from Park Seed. Are they at all suitable for Winter Sowing? If not, I would appreciate being "wised up."
Thank you so much.






Paris, TN(Zone 6b)

Hi Emily,

Impatiens would be a bit too tender to go out now in MA I would think. The rest, possibly okay, but this is just my first year so I'd wait for a more experienced WS'er to come along ;)

Here is where most of us get our information, Trudi's site: http://www.wintersown.org/

There are lists for seeds based on your zone, as well as all kinds of tips and instructions.

Have fun, it's a blast - and welcome to the forum :)


Brooklyn, NY(Zone 7b)

Hi Emily -

Welcome to Winter Sowing!

First thing I want to emphasize - "winter sowing" covers ALL of the winter months, right thru March. That said, all of the seeds you mentioned are suitable for WSing, with the exception of the impatiens.

Impatiens don't do well when WSed in the coldest part of winter, but they should do well if sown outside in the later, "warmer" months - like March, or even April (when it becomes "spring sowing"). Since we are rapidly approaching March, I'd say you can give them a shot then.

Pansies are a definite "GO"; they are the first annuals I put out - usually in January. Sowing them now is fine. I've sown marigolds as early as February, and had good results, but got better results when I waited two weeks and sowed them in mid-March. Same for the geraniums and begonias.

Give them a shot - if you're unsure or uneasy about it, you can always try just a couple outside and see what happens.

Hope this helps ....


Mid-Cape, MA(Zone 7a)

Thank you so much, all of you who answered my question about my seeds. I am so glad to have the time-line for sowing my pansies (first), then waiting till March for marigolds, begonias, and geraniums. Just gives me a bit more time to collect my containers! I already have a bag of Pro-mix thawing out in my garage for the pansies. It's even warming up (to 32 degrees F---hooray!)
I appreciate so much the wisdom, not to mention the enthusiasm, of this group.

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

What to do? What to do?

I don't want to be perceived as a downer, but begonias need to be started inside and so do Impatiens if you want to see the flowers in a timely fashion. If you have the lights already and a place to do it, I would sow these inside - use a heat mat if you have one. I know this is the WS forum, and I truly LOVE the prospect, but for these 2, plus a few others, I would sow them inside so they bloom earlier -- May or June. If you aren't in a hurry, go ahead and winter sow the Impatiens -- I have some here that reseed every year as long as I don't cover them too thickly with mulch. In fact, they are getting beyond their bounds, but they don't bloom early enough to suit me and even with the million seedings I have, I end up buying a few flats because I want flowers sooner.

As an aside on Impatiens, they are mutually stimulated, so you'll want to sow in a single pot and transplant when they either get crowded or have 2 sets of leaves. I have been running an experiment on them just this past three weeks and the seeds in the cell packs aren't germinating well, and aren't growing well once germinated.

Pansies, well, here they go dormant in late June...they quit blooming, sort of elongate and look terrible. I would sow these inside -- in a cool place -- and get them outside as soon as possible. They can take a LOT of cold -- and can freeze and thaw many times, especially as baby seedlings. The secret is to get them germinated early so they bloom early -- the chilly basement under lights would be my first choice. Maybe in the cold garage? I sowed mine last July and am expecting them to really take off as a full-sized plant in March (but I also bought several flats at $1.99 a flat last October as a backup.) It's gotten down into the negative numbers here, but pansies in the ground don't seem to care (well, they care, and don't look so hot right now, but they will look really good in March.)

I do not want this to be perceived as a negative statement on wintersowing -- I have over 150 jugs and containers outside as I type, with another 100 or 200 planned. I am all for it because I don't have a lot of space underlights, but there are just some things that, while are perfectly happy germinating and growing outside, just take too darn long to get to bloom size!


Lansing, KS(Zone 5b)

Thanks Suzy for the insight on growing impatiens and begonias inside, will write that down in my journal so I'll have early blooms. ;0)

Springfield, MA(Zone 6a)

Uh, Suzy - you are scaring me! The prospect of having 300 milk jugs in my backyard . . . what will you do if everything germinates? Perhaps you sell your plants or maybe you live on an estate? :-)

Mid-Cape, MA(Zone 7a)

Thank you, Suzy, for your advice on impatiens and begonias. Intuitively, I sense that you have a point.

I am a bit confused about what "mututally stimulated" means in the case of potting impatiens. Sounds. . . well, how can I phrase it? Like more fun than I thought seeds HAD!

Anyway, thanks for the informative post. I really appreciate your taking the time to help this novice to Winter Sowing.

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

LOL, CapeCod! I wondered if anybody thought that was as funny as I did. When I first read it I thought it said MANUALLY and that really had me in a double take!

All it means is keep those Impatiens together as seedlings in a communal pot, and then wait until they get fairly big before transferring to the cell packs...or whatever you use in lieu of cell packs. In the garden they are happy enough if you plant them closer. Don't plant the seeds in the cell packs directly because they can't mutually stimulate. ROFL!

What am I going to do with 300 jugs? Now, that's a darn good question! I have no idea. There are just so many things that caught my eye, y'know? I'm hoping the perennials grow slowly so I don't have to worry with them until June-July-Aug. Or maybe repot them and put them in a holding area. Mr. Clean and I have turf wars and I have gotten control of an area in the back. The first thing I did was put cardboard down to kill his grass. ROFL! Then I added manure and good stuff over all and it's amazing! I could plant those seedings right in there...not sure even that area will be big enough, though.

I am going to have a "Help me Dig My English Ivy Out" Party....You're all invited. LOL! If that were yanked, I would have room for 400 jugs!


Chapel Hill, NC(Zone 7b)

Here is something that I have not paid attention to: looking at this thread it occurred to me that maybe all (or many) of the seeds I am sowing now won't be ready to do anything this coming year, except of course establish root systems. I won't be able to count on getting them to actually flower, which I think means that I will still have to buy a bunch of plants for where I need various sizes/shapes/colors etc. to fill in ( have a bed that is only one year old).

Perhaps my annuals (both hardy and not) will "work" this year?

Any thoughts or experience?

Suzy, you are saying that you would put your perennials in pots and keep them in a holding area until you have time to plant them. What would that holding area look like, I assume it would be outside?

I guess your English Ivy pulling party would be fun, I like to weed and pull honeysuckle.

North West, OH(Zone 5b)

OK I'm veering a tad off the WS topic, but since growing impatiens inside has already been mentioned in this thread I'm considering it free reign. I've been hunting and hunting for double impatiens seeds without much luck. The few sources I've found have been for mixed colors and I prefer a solid color mass instead (preferably that beautiful coral color). Anybody know where I can find them?


Ellicott City, MD(Zone 7a)

Welcome Emily to the Winter Sowing Forum.

Pansies will do very well via this method and since they enjoy cooler temperatures. I would winter sow them now. The other seeds you mentioned probably would do better if sown next month and I would probably wait until April with the Impatients.

Suzy: 300+ wintersown containers....wow! Looking forward to seeing some awesome pictures from you!

Clementine: Annuals will bloom for you right away. Just ws them and they will reward you will their beautiful flowers. Most perennials will put down a good root system the first year and will give you blooms the second year.

Lala: You might want to look at Park Seeds. They seem to have a large variety of Impatients.

Chapel Hill, NC(Zone 7b)

Thank you, Shirley1md. Just as I thought. Are there any perennials that would bloom this year if could find the seeds NOW?

Ellicott City, MD(Zone 7a)

Besides the ones mentioned in this article, I would add Achillea (Yarrow), Dianthus & Poppies. Probably others, but those came to mind first.


Chapel Hill, NC(Zone 7b)

Hi, Shirley1md, thanks for that site. I am partially ok, because I have some gauras already and more seeds, and I just wintersowed some Rudbeckia, although it is hirta, not fulgida. Definitely will look for dianthus, and will consider poppies, although I don't know anything about poppies, except that I seem to have read that there is some trick in starting them and so I did not buy any seeds.

I really appreciate all you posts to other questions too, they are so informative, to the point, and so generous.

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

Clementine, Take a look at Foxy Foxglove, too. Blooms 5 months from seed. What zone are you in? A lot depends on the zone...Is Rudbeckia hirta a perennial there or an annual? There are a ton of those -- all different amounts of bronze or brown on them. Plus Prairie Sun and Irish Eyes. It is my understanding they all bloom first year from seed.

Dahlias - Bishop's Children and all the others also bloom from seed. They are perennial there, I imagine, but you'd want to dig them some time to clean up the tubers.

Snapdragons would.

What about Coreopsis, Platycodon, Campanula, and Aquilegia? Would those bloom first year?

If you're going to hold a place for your perennials by using annuals, be careful the annuals don't get so big they shade the little guys out - that was my big problem last year, and why I was thinking a nursery bed/pot farm for me next summer. I have an area that's low and I made a nice big high lasagne bed on it. I can already tell it's sinking, so I would want to add more stuff before I'd plant in it or I'd be fighting the low ground forever. That's the perfect place for a nursery bed, especially a pot bed. What will it look like? A ghetto pot farm, probably! If I put the pots down, and then mulch between them, maybe they won't be quite so visible. Luckily it's in an area that's not real visible, either from the house or from the neighbors, so I'm not too worried.

Shirley, Sure -- I'll send in some pictures of my ghetto pot farm. LOL! A friend told me she does the hunk o' seedlings on perennials, too, and it works really well and gives a bigger, fuller plant sooner. I was thinking about breaking the milk jug square into 5-6-7 pieces and planting those. But like Clemmie, I want flowers next year, not just plants, so I'm not sure what I'm going to do.


West Pottsgrove, PA(Zone 6b)

Coreopsis and Platycodon have a good chance of blooming their first year, Campanula maybe, and Aquilegia doubtful.

edit: The Campanula depends on the species, and Aquilegia is not going to bloom its first year that I can find anywhere

This message was edited Feb 11, 2007 11:58 PM

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

Oh, that's a bummer! About 7 of those milk jugs out there are filled with Aquilegia!

Oh, well,

West Pottsgrove, PA(Zone 6b)

Well it's still a nice plant - you have to start somewhere! I think the young ones are nice for the foliage, anyway.
Didn't you start any last year? lol

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

Aquilegia Origami is supposed to bloom the first year. I sowed some last year on Mar 8, they germinated kind of late but didn't bloom. If I'd gotten them out earlier in the winter, maybe they would have. Hopefully I'll have some blossoms this year. I also did some Rocky Mountain and McKana's giant, and none of those bloomed, either. The foliage looked nice and healthy, though, so I'm hopeful for some pretty columbine this year.


Lima, OH(Zone 5b)

Illoquin - to pick your brain....
are there any other common/popular annuals that should be started early indoors to provide an earlier bloom (instead of WS)? Nothing is more frustrating than watching something grow to the point of flowering and filling out, then it's suddenly August with a heatwave to battle.

Chapel Hill, NC(Zone 7b)

Had to run into town for something so I looked for seeds of course. I found only Dianthus Cottage Mix, and the package says that it will bloom the first year, so I have already put some into a jug. Tomorrow I will go to some other places that may have a better assortment.

Clapya: I guess I should try Coreopsis again, but last year I bought plants I may have killed them, won't know for a while of course. I also have one Platycodon in a container, maybe I'll set it out, even though I did not particularly like, but somebody gave it to me, so I kept it - it is a conversation piece.

Suzy: I am in zone 7a. Rudbeckia hirta is perennial acc. to a Ferry Morse package I looked at today, but Park says it is annual. Wikipedia and Floridata say it is both and also biennial. So who knows what I got. But tomorrow I will look for the Floxglove you are recommending.

Thank you all!! This is such a good thread (even though it has a lot of bad consequences for me)

Ellicott City, MD(Zone 7a)

I would also add Datura to the list of plants that bloom the 1st year. In zone 7a, Datura act like a perennial, but bloom like an annual. Does that make sense? They like to drop their seeds on the ground and the following year you'll have a whole bunch of them. Good for making a visual impact or for sharing with friends.

It would be wonderful if my Aquilegia bloomed the 1st year, but no such luck! That means that I should have lots of them in bloom this year, right? Absolutely!! I love the Aquilegia origami series and hopefully this year they will reward me with some of their beautiful flowers.

Apparently, the trick with Poppies is to plant the h.o.s. while they are still small. My Poppies pooped out on me last year. It gets hot here quickly. I had mine growing in full sun, because that's what the growing instructions said. They just didn't like all that heat, plus our humidity. So this year, I'll plant them out in a different bed. One that only gets morning sun and see if they like that location better.

Platycodon bloomed the 1st year for me too. I forgot about that one. Would you believe it is flowering in its plastic bottle? Here's a picture of it.

You're very welcome Clementine. Glad to help when ever I can.

Suzy, "ghetto pot farm", LOL! You'll have beautiful flowers....just wait & see!

Thumbnail by Shirley1md
Chapel Hill, NC(Zone 7b)

That is a lovely picture, Shirley. You won't believe what I did almost all evening: I looked at all - every single one - of the perennials in the Bluestone perennials site - drooling, and I did especially notice the platycodons. I hope mine (even though I never liked it much) will make a good transition out into a bed.

Suzy, your pot ghetto will be interesting. Would you post a picture when the time is right?

Good night, time to go and dream some more.

This message was edited Feb 13, 2007 12:05 PM

Lansing, KS(Zone 5b)

Hey LaLa~ saw the double coral impatien seeds at Walmart, debated and debated whether to buy a pack or not as I already have some impatiens to start indoors.

Ellicott City, MD(Zone 7a)

Thanks Clementine...."a picture is worth a 1,000 words".

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

Shirley -- I thought of you today -- WSd your evening scented stocks. :) Thanks, though it was probably a swap not a trade.

On the poppies -- did they bloom? If they bloomed, then that's all there is. They are a "one hit wonder" and you have to be ready with some Cosmos or Zinnias to fill the void they leave. There are 2 schools of thought on Poppies -- one is to pull themas soon as they finish blooming in order to get somehting else in there. The other choice is to let them go to seed so you have somehting to trade. :LOL or something to reseed. Most people suggest pulling up all but one or two -- keeps the mess down and you still have somehting to reseed. Some people put a spreadig plant next to them to fill the space that way. Those same people put small groups of poppies around instead of a big swath of them, so those smaller holes just sort of get filled in as the season progresses.

Tammy -- the big 4 that take a lng time to come into bloom are begonias, impatiens, coleus and pelargonium (annual geraniums). Now I supposed you can add angelonia, which is new to me. And parsley which has unusual requirements. Next might be snaps & petunias which take a long time to come into bloom, but also seem to be happy to grow in the cold, so wintersowing is okay.


North West, OH(Zone 5b)

Ooh Garden6, thank you! I surely do hope my local Walmart has them as well. I swear I've looked at Walmart's seeds and didn't see them....maybe I just overlooked them!

Lansing, KS(Zone 5b)

You're welcome and let us see how they grow for you! ;0)

Chapel Hill, NC(Zone 7b)

Suzy, I am interested in angelonias, I started another thread on that, asking whether they can be wintersown. What do you know about them ( you are mentioning them in your last post)?

Lansing, KS(Zone 5b)

Lala~ noted them again today at Walmart, they are listed as double bush balsams and double camelia balsams, with various assorted swirls, pastels and your corals! ;0)

Ellicott City, MD(Zone 7a)


Due to a storm related power outage, I couldn't reply yesterday.

Hope the evening scented stocks will perfume your garden with their exquisite scent & beauty.

The Poppies bloomed briefly & I left them where they were planted. I enjoy their interesting looking seed pods as much as their flowers. Hopefully, they will bloom this year again and then I'll move them to a location that only receives morning sun. I do have seeds for Cosmos & Zinnias, so I'll be wsing them to replace the small empty spot left by the Poppies. Thanks for your help.

Chapel Hill, NC(Zone 7b)

Higher up in the thread I had asked about perennials that bloom the first year from seed. Someone sent me this nice link, where he lists a whole bunch of them - but unfortunately he says that most of them would not bloom if wintersown, at least not in zone 6.


Very nice website, though.

I am still sowing, today I did a jug of Passiflora incarnata.

It is very cold here (for us), low of 18.

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

Clementine: Is Rob referring to wintersowing as we do it? Sometimes you will see that term used in referring to direct sowing into beds. I have also seen it used in reference to sowing seeds inside under lights in winter.

I've been told that wintersowing as we do it can speed up blooming of perennials by fooling the seeds into thinking that they have already endured one winter (which they have).

I did have a few perennials bloom in their first year- lady lavender, verbascum Southern Charm, oriental poppies, butterfly weed, hardy hibiscus, gaillardia goblin I know for sure. And maybe a few that I'm forgetting...


Chapel Hill, NC(Zone 7b)

Well, Karen, here is what Rob says:
"Note that I start most of my perennials indoors, starting in early winter. Many of the plants listed would not bloom if started outdoors in spring, or if wintersown to sprout when temperatures warm up - at least not in our zone 6 garden."

I assume he really means wintersowing when using this word, but as you can see, what he says is not very encouraging, and he does not tell us, which ones he thinks would not bloom.

Lucky for me, I also sowed Lady Lavender, so that should work, I haven't done my oriental poppies yet - tomorrow, tomorrow. I also still have asclepias, don't like gaillardia that much.

Last year I kept driving by someone's house, and from the distance I saw what I am fairly certain were two daturas. I have decided that I will stop by there (don't know them at all) and just confess that I would like to have some seeds from them if they have any.

Tonight will be the first night in at least two weeks that it will not freeze, last night we had 15F. I got some more milk jugs from a friendly Starbuck's today.

Good luck with your sowing!

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

I love "the seed site", he includes so much wonderful information. But I do get a kick out of his references to winter sowing. Here's one excerpt"

More about Winter Sowing:

A traditional way of sowing seeds in Europe, this is now becoming popular in the US. As growing indoors under lights is one of the most usual methods of starting seeds in America, the most popular method of winter sowing is a sort of half-way house between sowing outside and sowing indoors, with the seeds being kept in unheated propagators kept outside. As this produces a humid environment, there are still problems with aphids, leggy seedlings and damping off. In England, it is more usual to sow seeds in pots and leave them uncovered either in a cold frame or in the open garden in a sheltered place. In fact, this used to be the method also used in the United States (Prof. Norm Deno, of Pennsylvania State University, wrote in 1993 in his book Seed Germination Theory and Practice: 'A time honored procedure in horticulture and gardening has been to sow seeds in pots and place them outdoors in the fall'), but they seem to have got side-tracked and come to believe that it's essential to sow seeds indoors under shop lights.

Winter Sowing
This is the usual way of sowing seeds of perennials, trees, and shrubs, in Europe and elsewhere, and simply involves sowing seeds outside in the autumn, usually in pots, to allow them to experience the ups and downs of winter temperatures to encourage them to germinate in the spring.

It might seem obvious, but only sowing seeds in the autumn or winter can be called 'winter sowing', and you sow seeds at this time for particular reasons. When I see references to 'winter sowing' in spring or summer on US Forums, I conclude that this new discovery by American gardeners is just the rediscovery that seeds don't need artificial light or heat to germinate.

Whilst sowing outside in natural conditions is the method most usually practised throughout the world, sowing seeds outside in the autumn or winter is not the best way to treat all seeds. A few seeds of some species might germinate if sown at this time, but that might be despite, not because of, this treatment. Surely the whole point of sowing seeds yourself is that you can choose the best way for the particular seeds you want to germinate?

You should always consider the type of seeds that you want to sow, to make sure there is a reason for sowing them over the winter. There is no point in sowing seeds of tender or tropical plants outside in the colder months. They do not need a period of cold to induce germination, and they will not germinate until the warmer weather arrives in spring. In the meantime, they may be killed by the cold, or be eaten by birds or animals, or they may rot. If you are sowing seeds of tender or tropical plants outside in areas where you have frosts, you would do better to wait and sow them when the weather warms up.

There are two quite different reasons for sowing seeds in the autumn or winter, and before sowing seeds this way, you should understand why you are doing it, so that you can choose the right sort of seeds and know what sort of results to expect.

My point here is "wintersowing" means different things to different people. We on this forum are all on the same page, so to speak, but there are those out there who are on quite another...


West Pottsgrove, PA(Zone 6b)

Karen, to clarify, are the last two lines yours or rob'splants' ? He seems like he's basically on the same page... just curious, thanks. That's really interesting about Europe and the history.

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

Sorry, the last 2 lines are my words. Point is, "wintersowing" is a term which means different things to different people. For some, it's just going outside and throwing seeds in flower pots which are there. For others, it's just throwing seeds directly into beds, sometimes on top of the snow. For us, it's milk jug madness.


Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

-- How about Coleus?

anyone winter sow these?
I did see Suzy's comment on long time to bloom.

i have some seeds and really don't want to start them in the house.

Ellicott City, MD(Zone 7a)

tcs1366: Just saw your question about wintersowing Coleus. This tropical plant thrives in heat, so I started by Coleus seeds indoors under grow lights. I've read that these seeds don't germinate well via the wintersowing method.

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