Winter Seed Sowing, Who Knew?

Morning Glory Heavenly Blue

I’ve been gardening for more than 20 years and I’ve never heard of winter sowing until now. The idea that you can start seeds outside in the middle of winter with little or no maintenance until spring, seems almost to good to be true. When you’re stuck inside waiting for spring, pouring over seed and plant catalogs, buying more than you can possibly handle inside your home, this becomes not simply a good idea, but a great one.

columbine-nora barlow

I’m trying it. I purchased 6 water jugs in the grocery store for $.89 each, grabbed a bag of seed starter soilless mix and picked out 5 hardy perennials and 1 annual to plant. According to Kevin, from A Garden for the House, you need to sow perennial or hardy annuals for this process. I stumbled upon Kevin’s site on social media and found his information on the subject very interesting and easy to follow.

Winter Sowing

I live in zone 6a and chose the following to winter sow:

Penstemon Rocky Mountain
Flax Saphyr Blue
Primula x Pubescens
Columbine Nora Barlow Mix
Verbascum Southern Charm
Morning Glory Heavenly Blue


Following Kevin’s directions I poked holes in the water jugs and cut them almost in half. I pre-moistening the planting material, spread the seeds and sprinkled a little more soil on top (if instructed on seed packet)  and sprayed them with water.

Then I labeled them with a permanent marker and taped them closed with duct tape.

According to the directions once the weather warms up and they have sprouted you check for dryness, watering as needed. Then you leave them open during warm sunny days, closing again at night.

Here they are on my patio table. It’s already snowing on them as I write this post.

Winter Sowing

Fingers crossed. I’m excited to see what happens. I spent a total of $40 which could lead to 30 or more plants which I will be sharing with my family and friends.

What a bargain and for so little effort. I’ll let you know how they turn out.



About Patti Estep

Patti is the creator of Hearth and Vine, a home and garden blog filled with projects to inspire your creative side. She loves crafting, gardening, decorating and entertaining at her home in Pennsylvania. When she is not working on a project at home or searching for treasures at nurseries and thrift stores with her girlfriends, you’ll probably find her with family and friends, at a restaurant, or home party enjoying new and different food adventures.

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  1. This looks like such a fun project! Especially for those of us itching to plant ( but know it’s too early). I’m going to try this, but will use some hardier herbs. I could see parsley doing well but not basil. Hmmmm, the possibilities….

    • I know, right? I hope it does work well. You can google wintering sowing and find more info on which seeds work well. For herbs I think stick to perennials. You’re probably right about basil because its an annual and a tender one at that, hates the cold. It is easy to grow from seed though. Just wait until May. 😉
      Thanks for stopping by Susan and enjoy your weekend.

  2. Becky Cole says:

    Where did you poke holes in the jugs? Top or bottom? Do you leave the caps off?

    • Hi Becky,

      I poked several holes in the bottom of the jug for drainage. Since I left the tops open I didn’t bother with additional holes there.
      Kevin had a great tip that if you hold a round screwdriver over a flame to get hot it will easily melt the plastic and make a nice hole.
      Sorry that wasn’t clear in the post. Have a great day.

  3. Did they start to sprout yet? Is it working? I’m kinda sceptical because it’s so cold out. Wouldn’t the seeds freeze?

  4. Janie M. says:

    Last year I let leaf lettuce go to seed (not really on purpose, but it happened) and very early in the spring the seeds sprouted & grew into THE nicest, tastiest leaf lettuce I have ever had. I didn’t do anything special, they survived one of the coldest, snowiest winters we’d had for a long time, so I would think this would work You might not see much until it starts warming up, which it’s doing now, but the plants should start growing sooner than you would ordinarily would have planted them.

  5. Mary Minard says:

    This is something a lazy gardener like me would like to try. Especially the morning glories! Can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

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