Winter Sowing Flowers – The Final Results

Hi Lovelies!

Well, the results are in. I’m officially done winter sowing for the year, and I’m here to give a somewhat full report on what happened! This post won’t have any pictures, but hopefully, it will be filled with helpful information.

If you’re not familiar with winter sowing (I totally suggest you research more about it!), it’s a method of seed starting flowers and vegetables that requires minimal equipment. You can read more about prepping containers by clicking on this sentence! I don’t have access to a “grow room”, greenhouse, or even grow lights. As you can imagine, the idea of starting thousands of seeds is simply not one you would think could be a reality. I, personally, do not live in a “mild” climate. My winters are cold with freezing and snow, and my summers get very hot – this makes my garden a good candidate for trying to winter sow. With that information in mind, these experiences are solely my own, and only good ole’ fashioned trial and error will help to determine what will and will not work in your climate/garden.

Disclaimers out of the way – let’s get started. I’m honestly not sure what the best way to go about this is, but I’m going to try my best!

  1. Grenadin Carnations/Dianthus: These were sown into milk jugs in several batches. The first batch was started at the end of January. Additional jugs were put outside during February. The germination rate was exceptional (the best I’ve ever had). Once germinated, the seedlings did experience several light frosts and even a light dusting of snow. This was definitely successful in my garden.
  2. Scabiosa: These were sown in several batches starting in February through March. Germination rate was high. Some scabiosa that I direct sowed in the garden in fall (last September) also made it through the mild winter. With this in mind, the scabiosa had no problem with the late season frosts and have already been transplanted into the garden.
  3. German Chamomile: This is my first season attempting to grow chamomile. Seeds were sown in batches from late January to March. Germination rate was exceptional, as was cold tolerance. Some chamomile that I had direct sowed into the garden last fall (late September) lived through the mild winter and are now about a week away from the first blooms.
  4. Coleus: This was sown into milk jugs at the beginning of April. The seeds have now started to germinate, and appear to be responding well.
  5. Godetia: This was sown in multiple batches from February to March. It is listed some places as a hardy annual, but the fall planting I made last September did not survive. Even though the fall planting failed, godetia responded exceptionally well to winter sowing with an extremely high germination rate. Light frosts have not bothered the seedlings in their containers.
  6. Shasta Daisy: These were sown in milk jugs throughout March. Germination was good, but somewhat inconsistent. Daisy containers have experienced a few light frosts, but with the mild weather this year, I’m not really sure how much cold they can take.
  7. Spring Wheat: Spring wheat is one of the first things that I direct sow into the garden. It also did exceptionally well through winter sowing in January and February. Roots of the wheat are very sturdy, so they seemed to easily become root bound. I think next year, I’ll stick to direct sowing instead of winter sowing wheat.
  8. ‘Dara’ Flowering Carrot: I winter sowed flowering carrot at the end of February and had nearly 100% germination. Containers experienced several light frosts.
  9. Faroa’ Salvia: Several batches in January and February. Extremely bad germination – only 2 or 3 seedlings per jug have appeared. I’m hoping more plants will appear as the weather continues to warm. I won’t be winter sowing this again.
  10. Annual Phlox: Several batches from January to March. Excellent germination rate across all the containers. Have experienced several frosts and even light snow. Phlox are already transplanted into the garden.
  11. Calendula: Often referred to as a hardy annual, my fall planting (direct sow) of calendula in September did not survive through the winter. Winter sowing plantings of calendula were made from January to March. Germination was good. Since the plants are fast growing, many quickly became too big for their container. Calendula have already been transplanted into the garden and have survived many  light frosts unprotected.
  12. Baby’s Breath: Also often referred to as a hardy annual, my fall planting (direct sow) of baby’s breath did not survive the winter. Baby’s breath winter sown in January and February had exceptional germination and quickly outgrew their containers. Seedlings have been transplanted into the garden and have survived several light frosts unprotected.
  13. Celosia: Celosia is a heavy self-seeding volunteer in my garden. I winter sowed several batches of celosia from February to March, and so far germination has been very inconsistent. I hope that germination will improve as the weather continues to warm, but I will not be winter sowing celosia again.
  14. Marigolds: Marigolds were sown using the “winter sowing” method at the end of March and beginning of April. Germination has been very good. Plants quickly out grow their container. Containers have been exposed to a couple very light “patchy” frosts. Seedlings will be transplanted into the garden as soon as the last frost date passes.
  15. Ornamental Flowering Kale: I was very surprised to see that some ornamental kale plantings that were direct sown last fall, in September, made it through the mild winter. Kale was winter sown in containers at the end of February. Germination was near 100%. The ornamental kale has already been transplanted into the garden and has had no issue with several frosts.
  16. Ornamental Sweet Peas: Sweet Peas are often called hardy annuals, but they did not survive a fall planting in my garden. I winter sowed ornamental sweet peas into milk jugs from January to the end of February. Germination was very inconsistent. My best guess is that the hard seed coat made conditions a little more difficult. Results from an early (late February) direct sowing into the garden yielded a much better germination rate than winter sowing. I won’t be using the winter sowing method for this seed next year.
  17. Roselle: I planted roselle using the “winter sowing” method at the beginning of April. Germination has just started. I will cover these jugs in case of frost, as they are very sensitive. Roselle will be transplanted into the garden as soon as all chance of frost has passed.
  18. Snapdragons: Snapdragons were winter sown in several batches from January to March. All sowings had an exceptional germination rate and have tolerated multiple frosts (and a very light snow) well. Snapdragons have already been transplanted into the garden and have lived through a few light frosts unprotected.
  19. Zinnia & Sunflowers: I planted both of these using the “winter sowing” method at the beginning of April. Germination has just started. I will definitely be covering these jugs if there is a frost predicted. They’ll be transplanted as soon as the chance of frost has passed.
  20. Amaranth: I winter sowed several batches of amaranth from January to March. Germination has not been reliable, though some varieties seem to respond better than others. The amaranth have survived several frosts in their containers, but don’t seem to be actively growing. I don’t think I’ll winter sow amaranth again next year.
  21. Cotton: I planted cotton using the “winter sowing” method at the beginning of April. Germination has just starting. I’ll definitely be covering these jugs with a frost blanket if it is in the forecast. Seedlings will be planted into the garden as soon as any chance of frost has passed.
  22. Cleome: Winter sowed in February. Germination has been inconsistent. I will not be winter sowing this one next year.
  23. Dusty Miller: Winter sowed at the beginning of February. Excellent germination rate and frost tolerance in containers. Has already been transplanted into the garden and has since experienced several frosts unprotected.
  24. Annual Lupines: Winter sowed in January. Excellent germination rate and frost tolerance in containers. Quickly outgrew the containers. Has already been transplanted into the garden and has since experienced several frosts unprotected.
  25. Quinoa: Several batches winter sown from January to the end of February. Excellent germination rate and frost tolerance. Seedlings quickly outgrew the container and have already been transplanted into the garden. Have experienced several frosts unprotected without issue.
  26. Rudbeckia Triloba: Winter sown in January. Excellent germination rate. In fact, this is the first time I’ve gotten the seeds to germinate, ever. Has experienced several frosts and even some light snow in milk jugs.
  27. Scented Stocks: Winter sown in January. Excellent germination rate. Experienced several frosts and light snow in milk jugs. Has already been transplanted into the garden and has thrived through a few light frosts, unprotected.
  28. Nicotiana: Winter sown in January. Slow and inconsistent germination. Experienced light frosts without much issue, though I did lose a couple plants.
  29. Basil: “Winter sowed” at the beginning of March. Exceptional germination rate. Have experienced light frost in the container, but will be planted into the garden after all chances of frost has passed.
  30. Dill: Winter sowed in January. Exceptional germination and tolerance to frost. I probably won’t winter sow this one again because it’s so easy to direct sow in early spring.
  31. Feverfew: Feverfew was on backorder until last March, so I can’t give a full report unfortunately.
  32. Ageratums: Winter sowed from January to March. Excellent germination rate. Have experienced frost and some light snow in container with minimal seedling loss.
  33. Ammi Majus: My fall sowing survived the winter, so it’s no surprise that this seed did well with winter sowing. Germination was great and there was no problem with frost or snow. This is another one that’s really easy to direct sow, so I don’t think I’ll winter sow it again.
  34. Bells of Ireland: Was on back order and got a late start. One seed has germinated. Can’t offer a full report here.
  35. Bupleurum: Winter sown in February. Good germination rate. No problems with frost in containers. Will definitely winter sow this one again.
  36. Cerinthe: 40% germination. February winter sowing.
  37. Cosmos: “Winter sowing” method at the beginning of April. Germination has been great. Have experienced light frosts in their containers. Will transplant after the chance of frost has passed.
  38. Euphorbia: Very poor germination. Winter sown in February. Will not winter sow again.
  39. Gaillardia: Winter sown at the beginning of March. Excellent germination and tolerance to light frosts while in containers.
  40. Lavatera: Winter sown at the beginning of March. Excellent germination and tolerance to frost. Often listed as a hardy annual, it quickly outgrew my containers and needed to be transplanted into the garden. Has experienced a few light frosts unprotected without issue.
  41. Mignonette: Sometimes listed as a hardy annual, the fall planting did not survive the winter in my garden. However, the beginning of March winter sowing did very well and has already been transplanted into the garden.
  42. Nasturtiums: Winter sown in February. Zero germination. I have no idea why.
  43. Tricolor Salvia (Clary Sage? Not sure): Winter sowings in February and March. Great germination and frost tolerance. Have already been planted into the garden and survived light frosts unprotected.
  44. Northern Sea Oats: Winter sown in February. Inconsistent germination.
  45. Statice: WInter sown in February. Excellent germination and frost tolerance, have already been planted into the garden.
  46. Strawflower: Winter sown in January. Excellent germination rate and frost tolerance. Has already been planted out into the garden and survived light frosts unprotected.
  47. Sweet Annie: Winter sown in January. Excellent germination rate and frost tolerance. Has already been planted out into the garden and survived light frosts unprotected.
  48. Verbena: Winter sown in February. Inconsistent germination and diminutive seedlings. Will not winter sow this one again. \
  49. Tithonia:  Using the “winter sowing” method at the beginning of April. Germination has just started. I will definitely be covering these jugs if there is a frost predicted. They’ll be transplanted as soon as the chance of frost has passed.
  50. Parsley: Winter sown in January. Excellent germination rate and frost tolerance. Has already been planted out into the garden and survived light frosts unprotected.

Things I didn’t winter sow, but survived the winter (fall plantings):

Poppies, larkspur, bachelors buttons, love in a most, agrostemma, and many biennials. I imagine these would also do extremely well when winter sowed!

Okay, I don’t know about you guys – but, I’m absolutely exhausted! If you like this post, please do share it. I’d greatly appreciate it! Hope you’re having a really amazing day! Don’t forget to stop by YouTube if you haven’t already and subscribe! Much love!

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11 thoughts on “Winter Sowing Flowers – The Final Results

  1. queensberrypipdaylesford says:

    I am exhausted just scanning through your enormous list. All I know about sowing nasturtiums is that I let them go to seed, then whenever they feel so inclined they just come back again. Often where I don’t want them. I don’t have heavy winters, just light occasional slow and lots of frost. Why yours refused to comply I have no idea. Do it again…
    You are certainly thorough, well done.

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  2. helbergfarmstories says:

    What you call spring wheat, we call winter wheat because it is put into the ground in late fall and comes up early spring. Then it is tilled back into the soil (we don’t need to, but the bigger farms do to add nutrients to the soil). Nice flower array! Would love to see pics later!?! Question – do you use any type of fall mulch over your flower/seed beds?

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    • freshcutky says:

      Sorry it’s taken so long to respond! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ I also grow winter wheat. I direct sow that in October. They produce seed heads early to use in flower arrangements for some added texture πŸ™‚ The spring wheat that I direct sow really early (around March) is a hard red wheat that is most often used in baking. I’ll admit I’ve never tried it though! I’m sure that it’s a lot of work! All of the empty beds get tons of leaves and sometimes wood chips at the end of the season. I usually leave the beds with hardy annuals growing in them pretty bare. I know some flower farms use lots of mulch to cover and protect beds where certain things have been planted. For example, I know some people overwinter their dahlia tubers this way. Unfortunately, I’ve never done it, so I can’t offer any specific details. Hope I was able to help! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

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  3. Bev says:

    Wow this is great. Thank you so much for all the hours this must have taken you to write up and so generous of you to share it! I have just winter sown for the first time in the UK and only really started gardening last year. You have sown a lot of things I have just sown. I was looking for reasons why winter sowing may not be successful and your video was really helpful with that mentioning types of containers and over sowing. It’s so funny how I feel so nervous about it and have such anticipation! Thanks so much πŸ™‚

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    • freshcutky says:

      I’m so happy that it was helpful! Ive winter sowed for a few years now, and I still get so nervous/excited when its time to plant seeds! Ill be posting regular updates for this years winter sowing onto my youtube channel, as well. I hope you’re having a wonderful day! πŸ™‚ Happy growing!

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