While the snowy days of the winter hold a certain ethereal charm, for the most part, the cold season is a blur of endless grey and gloomy days. Therefore, come spring, a garden blooming with a riot of colors is a welcome sight for sore eyes.
However, to enjoy the blossoming flowers soon after the turn of the season, you need to get gardening in the winter. Some flowers require cold climatic conditions to germinate, so they are ready to sprout flowers when the temperatures increase.
How to Winter Sow
Winter sowing is the method of starting seeds outdoors during the winter. Low temperatures for an extended period promote seed germination for some flowering species, and this process is called cold stratification. Moreover, winter-sown plants are known to be more resilient and robust compared to seeds sown indoors.
Here is what you need:
- Clear or translucent plastic containers, such as milk jugs or 1-liter soda bottles
- A sharp knife
- Lightweight commercial potting mixture
First, make an incision in the middle of the container and cut around its circumference. Make sure not to cut the top half completely! Instead, leave a 1-inch uncut area that can act as a hinge. Punch holes in the container’s bottom to allow for water drainage.
Fill the container with potting soil, around 2 to 3 inches in depth. Water the mixture generously and allow the excess water to drain. Sow the seeds and pat the soil lightly to make it firm. Remove the lid and replace the top half of the container, securing it with tape.
Label the containers with the date and plant specie. Place the containers in an area outdoors that receives plenty of sunlight and is exposed to rain. However, you will need to shelter the containers from the wind.
Keep an eye on the soil to make sure it is not too dry; moisten gently if that is the case. Most often, the seasonal precipitation would be sufficient. As the temperature increases, open the tops during the day and close them at night. Soon you’ll have fresh seedlings!
Flower Seeds Best for Winter Sowing
One of the easiest ways to select flower seeds for sowing in the winter is to read the packet and look for keywords such as self-sowing, cold stratification, cold hardy, and perennial. All these indicate that the seed is ideal for sowing when it’s cold.
If you are still unsure, your list of flower seeds that will thrive when sown in the winter is ready.
Alyssum is a hardy annual that produces tiny, white, four-petal flowers that you can use to blanket your landscape. It has narrow, lance-shaped, gray-green leaves with tiny hairs on them. The flowers have a honey-sweet smell that travels with the breeze.
The best time to plant these is once the frost has passed and the flowers bloom around two months of sowing the seeds.
Another hardy annual bachelor button flowers are blue in color, though now you can also find them in shades of red, pink, and white. They can be sown as early as January and require minimal care. They thrive in areas with plenty of sunshine. However, you will need to deadhead plants as they tend to self-seed prolifically.
Also known as the butterfly bush, the buddleja has flowers that grow in a conical formation at the end of the branches. The plant is excellent at seed production and dispersal. According to a study at Longwood Gardens, each flower spike can have more than 40,000 seeds.
Columbine is a perennial plant that requires very little care to grow beautiful, brightly-colored, bell-shaped flowers. The ideal conditions for this plant include cool temperatures, full sun, and well-draining soil. They are also very resilient and drought-resistant but can rot if they remain wet for too long.
Be aware that columbines will not bloom the first year when planted from seed. So, don’t fret when this happens!
The coreopsis plant is a perennial that produces vibrant yellow flowers that look like daisies. The flowers are predominantly single and bloom in profusion. Taller varieties can bear flowers on upright stems that are great for cutting. They are more likely to bloom in the first year when planted earlier in the year.
Forgot-me-not is a reseeding annual that is ideal for sowing in winter since the plant can then produce tiny, pale-blue flowers in large masses that can cover the ground in early spring. They prefer moist to wet conditions and partial to full sun.
Be aware these plants will self-seed, providing you with another sea of blue when they eventually die off.
Foxglove seeds work exceptionally well for winter sowing. The plant is biennial and produces pinkish-purple, drooping blooms with oval-shaped, soft, downy leaves. The flowers prefer sunny or partly shaded areas with well-drained soil.
Most importantly, they are an important source of pollen for bees.
Hollyhock is another biennial on the list which produces cup-shaped blooms with little to no stalk. The plant prefers well-drained soil in sunny areas and has tall spikes covered with brightly colored flowers, including pink, purple, white, blue, red, and yellow.
These are ideal for providing a lush background to your gardens, although, they will take two years to display their blooms.
Poppies require a natural freeze-and-thaw cycle to germinate, so they are perfect for planting in winter. They are a desirable addition to most landscape situations due to the vivid colors and simple planting process. The plant needs a sunny location and limited watering to thrive.
Snapdragon comes in many stunning colors, from pastels to bright shades. They have a long blooming season in areas with cooler summer months, from early spring to fall. They can even withstand short periods of frost. This hardy annual is worth all the work!
Winter Is Better With Blooms
Winter sowing allows you to take advantage of the environmental elements to achieve a blooming garden in spring. Since most of the work is done by nature, the process is relatively easy and budget-friendly, with amazing results.
Moreover, the plants yielded from this planting method are strong and sturdy as compared to those grown indoors. Therefore, now is the perfect time to start planning your landscape design so you can start the germination process early next year.
Which one of these flowers will you be sowing? Leave a comment and share you experience!