Monday, January 27, 2014

Winter Sowing Part II

What kind of seeds should I winter sow? When do I winter sow them? 

Hmmn ... let's start with PERENNIALS. Perennials are plants that, once planted, will return year after year. They are perfect for winter sowing! They should be the first seeds you winter sow, and you can start them as early as December in Zone 5. They don't mind the cold at all. Actually, they need the freezing and thawing cycles that occur during the winter to break their dormancy when spring finally arrives. Most perennials will not flower their first year grown from seed. Instead, they spend all their energy during their first season growing strong root systems. It is not until their second year that they usually begin to produce blooms. As an added bonus, once established, many of them will re-seed themselves prolifically each year!  You can continually winter sow perennial seeds during the months of December, January, and February.  Germination usually will start sometime between late March and the beginning of May. These are some perennials that I have winter sown with good success 
Alaska Shasta Daisies & Rose Campion
shasta daisies,rose campion, black eyed susan, columbine, coreopsis, foxglove, blanket flower, yarrow, and perennial alyssum. 

Now, let's talk a bit about ANNUALS. Winter sowing annuals is just as easy, but these seeds can be a little bit more particular about their growing conditions. Basically, annuals can be described as:
Blue Batchelor Buttons
HARDY ANNUALS - can be winter sown anytime between January, February, and early March. They don't mind the cold and snow at all! I've had good luck winter sowing sweet alyssum, snapdragons, dianthus, and bachelor buttons during these cold winter months.

HALF HARDY ANNUALS -     a little bit more temperamental.  Best winter sown in late March or early April.

 They can take some cold and frosty weather, but little warm spells are appreciated. China asters, baby's breath, cosmos, rudbeckia hirta, salvia, cleome, and lobelia are a few that do well at this time.

TENDER ANNUALS - these are the fussy ones. I don't even think about winter sowing these until late April. I've successfully winter sown zinnias, nicotiana, marigolds, morning glory, black eyed susan vine, and mexican sunflowers at this time of the year. Be sure to keep in mind that tender annual seedlings that have started to germinate may not survive a heavy late spring freeze.

Heavenly Blue Morning Glory

There is one flower that I have not mentioned and that is the ... poppy.
Red Corn Poppy
I'm not referring to perennial Oriental poppies (which I have winter sown) but to annual poppies such as shirley poppies, red corn poppies, and California poppies. Many people do winter sow annual poppies, but I prefer to direct sow them where I want them to grow. I actually have two methods for direct sowing my poppy seeds. Usually, at the end of February or beginning of March, I scatter annual poppy seeds, mixed with a bit of builders sand, in a few open areas that I had prepared for them in the late Fall. It's 
even better if there is some melting snow covering the area. Annual poppies actually prefer a bit of a chill to get them started. That's one method. The other? Instead of sowing them out in open areas, I sow them directly into a few large flower pots that I keep out on my back deck. No particular reason ... I just love poppies!

In my next blog, I'll give you some more tips on winter sowing.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post Jane. I've never tries winter sowing, so I'm looking forward to your post.