Winter Sowing

Winter sowing is an easy way to kick-start your native garden for next year. We’ll show you how to pot native seeds in the late fall or winter and allow those seeds to stratify naturally.

Here are the basic steps:

  1. Gather the ingredients….plastic pots (or cut-down milk jugs or cartons), native seeds, labels, organic potting soil, watering can, and a rodent screen.
  2. Fill the pots with soil, then label them.
  3. Spread your seeds evenly on the surface of the soil. Seeds can be sown ⅛-¼” apart.  Water the pots gently but thoroughly (a rain nozzle is ideal for this).
  4. Place pots in a shady location outdoors. Cover the pots with rodent wire and make sure the pots are level.
  5. Wait for nature to do its thing….let it rain and snow, thaw and snow some more. By late April, you will need to start watering every couple of days, depending upon the weather. In May or June, you should see signs of germination in some pots. Seeds vary in their germination times so don’t give up! Sun-loving species should be moved to a partially sunny location.
  6. Plant in your garden. Seedlings can grow all summer in their pots and then be planted in the garden in September. If you choose to plant in summer, make sure to water them throughout the season. Most native perennials do not bloom in their first summer and may only reach a few inches tall. Have faith…they will become beautiful bloomers in the next year or two!

This process was adapted from Heather McCargo of We recommend visiting her site for detailed information and photos!