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Winter sowing

I want to winter sow a few seeds as I've tried the method before and it worked really well. However, I've read that you should only do it when it's forecasted frost for the foreseeable future.

At the moment the temperature is hovering around 5C and it's not likely to change any time soon.

Is it worth waiting to see if any frost comes my way before sowing or can I just pop the sowed seeds in the fridge or freezer for a week or two and then leave them outside?


  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,763
    Which seeds?
  • kasjkkasjk Posts: 137
    I'm hoping to plant the following:

    Ammi Majus
    Verbena Bonariensis
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,638
    edited January 2020
    Some seeds need a period of frost to prompt them to germinate.  It's called stratification.   When the frost is over, the seeds think it's spring and safe to germinate.  A spell in a fridge can sometimes fool them int thinking they've had winter.
    As far as I'm aware, all of the plants on your list happily self sow directly and don't wait for winter to be over to germinate.   The trick then is not to weed them all out when tidying your borders in autumn.   

    I suggest you wait a month or two for light levels to improve and then just sow the seeds in trays, pots or modules as you prefer.   
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • kasjkkasjk Posts: 137
    Hi Obelixx,

    Thanks for the reply. Do you mean to just sow them as normal and keep them inside and not use the winter sowing method?
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,638
    Yes but they need warmth and light to germinate and grow so wait till those come with spring.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Posts: 10,919
    I sow foxgloves in June or early July and plant out in Sept/Oct which then flower the following spring. The seed does not need a period of cold.
    Sowing them in Spring would cause the plants to either flower before they're proper size, in late summer (rather than the following spring), or grow into very big plants and flower the following spring.
    Generally I sow perennials in early summer.
    As Obelixx says, the lack of strong light at this time of year will cause seedlings to become leggy and weak.
    Look for when plants drop their seed naturally - that's often the best time to sow.

    Billericay - Essex

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,296
    January has proved good for Aquilegias here, cold GH. In. fact the first 4 on your list have been sown in winter to germinate in spring. Haven't tried the others

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • kasjkkasjk Posts: 137
    Hi nutcutlet, 

    That's interesting, have you just sown the straight in the ground? 
  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,296
    no, in pots of gritty compost in an unheated green house, a cold frame would do, or outside in a protected place. we are too weedy to sow direct

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • kasjkkasjk Posts: 137
    Oh nice one, I might give it a go, half the seeds now and half the seeds as suggested later in the year. Thanks for your feedback. 
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