snowy table with winter sowing milk jugs

Growing Seeds by Winter Sowing Again – So Easy In The Snow

Once again this year I plan on growing seeds by winter sowing because I am in need of some plants. I have a new garden here and new borders and plants are so expensive! I need to use this easy and cheap method to get new plants .

I have done this before successfully and even have an old post here about winter sowing from many years ago. I had so many plants that grew successfully I have not done it but sporadically in the past years.

milk jugs and ice cream containers planted with seeds

But now I am doing it again this winter. It is very easy and just takes a little bit of prep work. Here in Ohio, I won’t want my transplants to be ready until about mid-May, so I am starting in January.

But the weather has been somewhat erratic here and it’s warmish then freezing, and I sure need some cold weather to get them started.

daffodils in the snow

What Seeds Can Be Winter Sown?

The seeds that do best are those that need stratification which is a period of cold temperatures. If your seed packet says that it’s a perennial and it needs stratification, that’s an indication that you can try winter sowing for that particular seed.

In addition, any seed that you know “self-seeds” will positively work.

Many people do vegetables but I don’t grow vegetables very well. I don’t have luck with vegetables so I don’t have any experience with vegetables. Basically if I get a small tomato plant to grow, it surely will die.

seed packets lying on table

I am planning on winter sowing foxglove and hollyhocks. I also have purple coneflower and some blue flax. I will later on do some cosmos and alyssum. Soapwort and cypress vine and marigolds, oh my. These are some of the seeds I’ve got right now.

Advantages to Growing Seeds in Milk Jugs

No indoor growing lights needed.

No extra shelving or spaces for growing cups etc

No watching trays testing for moisture and watering.

No fungus gnats throwing a convention throughout your house, mainly in front of the computer screen!

In Ohio weather changes daily. Wait til colder snowy time to winter sow.

 No worry about the damping off  or hardening off. The seeds will be outside and will wake up the way Mother Nature has them wake up in the springtime anyway.

But, if you go long periods without icy snow and rain and you think there’s a possibility that the plants could be dry, all you need to do is go out and pour some water into that top of the bottle or container

east edge of the garden shed
This picture and the one above were taken a day apart.

As you know from other posts, I use systemic insecticide for my indoor plants but I don’t want to put the systemic insecticide in this soil because these plants will be going outside. I don’t want to put a systemic in the soil because of the danger of harming the bees (in the spring) and other advantageous insects

Supplies You’ll Need For Winter Sowing

  • seeds
  • empty jugs or similar containers – clear or translucent
  • box cutter knife to cut jugs open & punch drainage holes
  • garden marker and sticks to label inside
  • potting soil
  • strong cloth tape (Duck tape or freezer tape)

duck tape and cutting knife

Video of Step By Step Winter Sowing Seeds

After cleaning jugs, cutting holes in bottom & top if needed (such as my ice cream containers), fill jugs with potting soil as high as about 4-5 inches. Leave room at top for growth. Soil should be damp already or water it thoroughly and be sure it drains.

Winter Sowing Seeds In Containers - No Lights, No Fuss, No GNATS

Write name of plant on surface of jug AND also on wooden/plastic stick to put inside of container. No lid needed on jugs, but my ice cream containers and grape containers need lids with holes punched. THESE ARE MINI-GREENHOUSES.

milk jug label with hollyhock inside and outside

Sprinkle seeds on soil following directions on packet. Surface sown or covering with sprinkle of extra soil. Not too deep! Close top and, if needed, tape the jug together with duck tape. ( You will be taking tape on and off in later spring.

Careful About The Amount of Seeds You Scatter!

Be realistic about the amount of plants this container will support. 100 seedlings pressed together will be splindly and weak. 20 seedlings will have a better chance. Or maybe less. If you need large quantities, use more jugs!

seedlings by hundreds all crammed together

I would like to have 8-10 of each plant, so I am planting those amounts plus a few to account for die-off. You do you, though.

Watering is only needed if you have a period with no snow and no rain. Check your containers during those times and spritz water into the tops or gently pour from a watering spout with that gentle “rose” end.

Gentle spraying nozzle

Be sure and watch the video. It may answer more questions. Have fun Winter Sowing Flower Seeds and you will see how easy it is. Each year you can make it better and better.

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