Do you winter sow seeds?

There are a total of 285 votes:

I start many plants by sowing them in the winter months
(104 votes, 36%)
Red dot

I have not had much luck with this method
(38 votes, 13%)
Red dot

This is my first year to winter sow. I'm excited about doing this.
(52 votes, 18%)
Red dot

I never winter sow seeds
(62 votes, 21%)
Red dot

What is winter sowing?
(29 votes, 10%)
Red dot

Previous Polls

Denville, NJ(Zone 6b)

I start seeds indoors & out

Katy, TX(Zone 8b)

I never winter sow. I throw out seeds in the fall that need to overwinter outside, some in the very early spring (actually March or so) and then maybe later on in the summer.

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

All seeds are started in our basement or greenhouse, later. Don't understand what is meant by winter sowing. So I checked "What is winter sowing ?".

Lots of things come up in the spring in my flower beds. I have to pull most of them out because they are way to thick. But the term for that is "Self-seeding".

I am cutting way back on annuals & doing more perennials this year. It's been a number of years since I sold lots of perennials, so people should be in need again. The seeded perennials I can sell for a couple dollars. Nursery's charge $5 7 up for same ones, but grown from bare root.


Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

I voted that I winter sow but if it means in containers like milk jugs then I lied. I start seed in in my growop and greenhouse and I sow some things outside directly in the ground.

Garland, TX(Zone 8a)

Winter sowing is an interesting and fun method of getting a "jump" on the season. There's an entire forum here in Dave's Garden dedicated to this method: . Check out the "sticky" first post 'Help For Winter Sowing' if you'd like to learn more about the concept. :-)

Flora, IN(Zone 5a)

This will be my 3rd year to winter sow (in milk jugs) I learned about it here at Dave's and discovered it is a great way to try many new plants I would otherwise never find.
I don't start till later in January then sow a few every week till spring. Last year 50 or sow jugs, this year will have to be more, traded for too many cool new seeds.

Thumbnail by gardengus
Barstow, CA(Zone 9a)

I replied that "This is my first year to winter sow. I'm excited about doing this". Then I realized that what I'm calling "winter" doesn't qualify in anybody else's terms. We have yet to see our first night with temps below freezing ;). We may not be subjected at all to any of that white trash from the sky (called "snow" by those who like it, less printable names by others of us who avoid it; we didn't have any last year).

What I chose to plant was a wonderful collection of Bird of Paradise seeds that I had carefully gathered and dried several months ago when a BOP plant growing at the corner of my land was in full bloom and forming seed pods. Given the concrete like mixture of sand, gravel, rock, clay, and some caliche which is the nature of the ground here, I used my Mantis to dig ten round holes in the ground at a spacing of typically four feet apart and three feet inside my chain link fencing. Raked out the worst of the gravel and rock, removed to elsewhere about half of the original soil contents of the holes, and added two bags (three cubic feet) of Amend soil conditioner into the backfill for the ten holes. Watered that to fully damp condition and then placed three of my collected BOP seeds into each hole in a triangular pattern somewhat near the edges of the hole. I did so because the DG Plantfiles suggest that Fall planting of BOP seeds is desirable and predictably successful. I'm looking forward to seeing a protected (by my chain link fence and adequate spacing) full row of Bird of Paradise plants next Spring sometime after I start watering them regularly.

Thumbnail by bgrumbin
Gilroy (Sunset Z14), CA(Zone 9a)

Four or five of us gather at my house most years for a "tomato-seeding" party. We set up a bunch of 6-packs with soil, then lay out all of our tomato seeds & decide who wants what for the year. I start a spreadsheet, and then we plant and label the 6-packs.
After a nice pot-luck lunch, we take all of the 6-packs into my little greenhouse, spread out disposable diapers in plant trays, and set the six-packs inside. They get watered from the rain-barrel.
It's my responsiblity to keep them watered and turned and thinned till they get to transplant size. Then everyone picks up their seedlings and moves them into 4" pots at their houses, where they stay till it's time to plant them out.
We compare notes all season, and I keep the spreadsheet updated periodically with information on how the different varieties have done for us.
Last year we couldn't do the party, and we all complained the whole year that we missed it!


I've never winter sowed, and just a few months ago learned what it was. Had never heard the term before...........!!
What I used to do, in Winnipeg, was start stuff in the porch, in February - like Tomatoes, etc. Can't do that here.

I may winter sow next year.

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

Winter sowing is a term used for planting seeds outside, to take advantage of the freeze and thaw cycles that occur naturally in the winter. Some seeds require this freeze/thaw process to germinate properly.

Winter sowing is usually done sometime in late December and many gardeners sow seeds in containers to be able to easily move the seedlings when the time comes to transplant them into the gardens.

Jasper, AR(Zone 7a)

I always winter sow-- this is the only way to grow a lot of native species--not enough room to stratify them in the fridge-- and I have tried both ways-- for most-- sowing outdoors (usually by the end of January) was more effective.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

like gardengus... this will be my 3rd year.

for those of us that have long cold winters... it gives me something to do those long winter days.
Including dreaming about the flower beds.

I pretty much knew nothing about it before I found "Daves"

Wheatfield, NY(Zone 6a)

pretty much ditto what Terese just said... year 3 for me, too. it has worked so well for me I still have plants from last year's winter sowing that I never got in the ground. they are still growing in the containers I planted them in, so I am going to cover them and see if any of them survive the winter on the porch next to the house. I will have to cut back this winter (I planted 72 'bags' of seeds outside last winter that produced probably well over 500 plants... too much for me to handle :0)

Mid-Cape, MA(Zone 7a)

Another 3rd-year wintersower here, who has been sowing seeds in containers in winter/early Spring and leaving them outside for Mother Nature to take care of. I had at least 60 different varieties of seedlings--annuals, perennials, vegetables this season (including tomatoes, Tallulah--they can be wintersowed!)
I like the method because it's something to do in the deep NE midwinter, it's cheap, and the seedlings are so well hardened-off. And watching them germinate in the cold spring is very satisfying.

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

Ditto. I still have stuff to plant out from last year, too. Basil, tomatoes, everything! But those won't be ready in time if you ONLY WS them up here, so I also spring sow some. (I just don't have space in the house!!!)

(Zone 7b)

Doe's anyone know if wild milk weed should be winter sowed?

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

I've done the "Scarlet" and "Silky" before ... they transplant beautifully.
I will be attempting more varieties of MW this year too.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

This year will be my first for winter sowing. A friend suggested annual poppies -- they work for her in our area. I also bought seed for California poppies and blue flax. I hope they will germinate here. The climate is very dry but we usually get enough snow in the winter to wet everything down pretty well. I love masses of blue flax, California poppies and Annual poppies.

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

I need more room with some lighting and a plant stand, last year was my first attempt and didn't work out too well, maybe 45% germ rate.

Eastern Long Island, NY(Zone 7a)

Of course! I just finished winter sowing 100 tulips! (and 5 Acer scolopendrifolium rubra). ☺!

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

Ohhh...I just remembered the acorns that I picked up in the Ozarks! Lovely White Oak with smallish leaves. They are much smaller in size that the ones around here. Gotta get them puppies in the ground!

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

I took the question to be asking if we were sowing seed outdoors in the winter. But actually, the words indicate any kind of sowing seed -- indoors or out. I often plant seed in February or March to be potted up and moved outdoors in the spring. I guess this, too, is winter sowing. And I have been planting various bulbs outdoors.

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

My personal definition of winter sowing is planting outside to take advantage of the natural freeze/thaw cycles. I do start seeds indoors in the winter, but do not consider them 'wintersown'

Waxhaw, NC

This is my first year with winter sowing. It's a matter of space for me. I have limited space for starting indoors under the lights and I tend to use that space for getting an early start on my veggies and annual bedding flowers. But I have alot of perrenial seeds, some aquired thru trade, some from collecting in my own gardens and some bought that I want to start as well, so I have been busy collecting containers and mixing soil. I use it for something to do on rainy days, because other than rain, it rarely gets to cold for me not to be outside doing something. I am curious as to what systems anyone might be using to keep containers from blowing away. Right now I am putting my containers in a holding pen made of of 2"x12" 's in a square.

Richmond, VA(Zone 7a)

ncdirtdigger (love the handle!) I too am a first timer this year. I was tickled by the WinterSow website ( and sent off for their free seeds, which they mail out for postage...... along with a little flyer.... it is "potluck" as to what seeds you get but mine are a nice assortment.

There is a great thread in the DG Wintersowing forum, quite active right now, for first timers:

I'm not posting there much but learning a lot. Still assembling my items for sowing and the info as well.

As for corraling the containers, some use sturdy cardboard, some use twine! some use nursery flats -- the creativity knows no bounds!

As I understand it, the idea came from the simple awareness that most seeds in nature are actually sown in winter...... and this is an easy way to protect them that does not involve the expense of a greenhouse, for example, and also uses some of that ubiquitous plastic stuff such as milk containers........ etc.

not to go on, just meant to share those links here. ;-)


shanghai, China

I come from china .Usually we start many plants by snowing in later autumn and early winter .The temperature is 15-20,mostly indoors.

(Daniel) Mount Orab, OH(Zone 6b)

This is my 3rd. year winter sowing. The first year I had success with only ONE plant. It was a Columbine and bloomed well it's second year. I am very glad that I furnished all my attention upon it that year! This past year I had many more plants to start and had 70% success with the following plants: Four o' clocks, Dahilas, 3 kinds of Tomatoes, Calendulas, Broccoli, Gazania, and Cauliflower. I will be starting this year Rugose Hollyhocks (alcea rugosa), Roma Tomatoes, Gazania, Moonflowers, Mina lobata, Alpine Strawberries(YUM!), Basil?, Calla Lillies, Clematis, Shasta Dasiy, Swiss Chard and Cream Hollyhocks. I have found that washing pots and flats in bleach water, heating soil to 180 degees, and dusting the top of the soil with lemon Jell-O keeps the noxious damping-off fugus away. I also propogate Coleus by cuttings in a east facing window.

South Hamilton, MA

We sow our iris seeds outdoors in late Oct. I never thought of itas 'winter sowing'.They germinate in May.

Deer Park, IL(Zone 5b)

Sometimes I do it. A bit of a pain-plants are so-so depending on type and season.

Kalama, WA(Zone 8b)

I started 'wintersowing' in 2001. I don't do it much anymore but I used to wintersow massive amounts of seeds every winter. I was able to grow a lot of hard to germinate plants this way. I always had lots of extras so I'd hold plant sales or use them in trades.
Now I'm into growing daylilies from seed, but I start them indoors under lights during the winter months. I just switched addictions. :-)


Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

Isn't that the beauty Joy. I can't even imagine what it would have cost me if I had to buy all the plants when I started from scratch at this house. I've grown alot of my perennials from seed and traded seedlings for others that I didn't have. It's also a labour of love and I now get great joy sharing divisions with new gardeners.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

I winter sow a lot of columbines -- by accident. They go to seed and come up the next year. I started with blue and white and red and white columbines. Now I have every combination of colors in between. It is most pleasant. But I have never tried winter sowing on purpose.
I guess one just jumps in and tries it and sees what works. I have grown seedlings in the winter under lights -- a lot. And will perhaps do both winter sowing and indoor light sowing this year.
I am ready right now for spring to begin. Fall planting ended with the snowfall day before yesterday. The ground is frozen and the snow hasn't melted. Sigh. I am eager for spring.

Kalama, WA(Zone 8b)

Oh yes, dahlianut.
You can grow some very choice and what would be 'very expensive' if bought, plants this way. And doesn't it feel good to know you started them from seeds? A real sense of accomplishment.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Sounds good to me. I will have to set out on it soon!

New York & Terrell, TX(Zone 8b)

Yes; I start many plants/seeds by sowing them in the winter months. I find that they grow much hardier this way. I learned about it first from Trudi G. on & also at another garden web place.

Trudi G. is also a Subscribed Member of Dave's Garden.

I'm going to start other seeds with this method this year & test trial them to see how they do verses starting with heat mats & lights. Very many plants are self-sown in nature, which means they go along in the icy snow & winter killing weather in upstate NY. So why not give it a try?

I've also seen volunteer tomato plants up there in NYS, & you know the temps there get down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

~* Robin

Edited to add: today Friday, December 12th, 2008 - The Full moon rises at 5:20 P.M. & Sets 7:25 A.M. The moon on this day is known as "The Full Cold Moon" or "The Long Nights Moon" by some Native American tribes.

Weather: Overnight: Clear, with a low around 32. West northwest wind around 5 mph. In Terrell, TX!! Currently: Fair, @ 35F, (2C)

This message was edited Dec 12, 2008 3:22 AM

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

I used to get tomato plants popping up everywhere here when I put spoiled tomatos in my compost.

Palmyra, PA(Zone 6a)

Because of 2 reasons - it's a lot of fun! and because it gives you so much more variety than going to the garden center :)

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7a)

I'm saving a few gallon jugs for this so I can try it. I have a ridiculous amount of seeds that are all things I either love or want to try but I am extremely unsuccessful trying to start them indoors. I get leggy weak looking seedlings, damp off or mildew since I don't really want to get into the whole seed heating mat and lighting thing (renting an apt).

I think the hardest part for me might just be only starting a manageable number of containers. I only have a small space to garden in plus a few containers so I'm really going to have to make some good choices for what I choose to sow. I really like the WS forum and have been reading it now for a couple of years.

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

I love 'wintersowing'.

Above's a link for a DG article written by Critterologist that answers a lot of the FAQs about "Wintersowing" (the term) as opposed to 'sowing seeds during the wintertime', a more general classification.

For those who live in somewhat northern climates WSing is a great way to start seeds, even (or expecially if) you have a brown thumb, like I do.

I've had great success with all kinds of perennial and native seeds that would have been impossible for me to have in the garden without WSing.

And lots of fun, too!

Post a Reply to this Thread

Please or sign up to post.