by Connie Oswald Stofko
We’ve talked about winter sowing before, and here’s another method for planting seeds outside during winter. I got this great tip from Linda Blyth of the Town of Tonawanda.
“This is what we do with poppies, cleome, datura, bells of Ireland and a few others: sprinkle these seeds on top of the snow,” Blyth said.
“Why? Because they all need a period of cold in order to germinate! Have you ever tried planting seeds in the spring or early summer and had nothing show up? Maybe you thought the seeds were bad… not so; they just needed the cold treatment.
“Do an online search for seeds that need stratification to discover the many seeds that require this cold treatment.”
Tip: If a plant in your garden drops seeds in autumn, and those seeds sprout in spring, that plant should work with this technique. Think of echinacea (coneflowers), black-eyed Susans, columbine and milkweed.
An advantage of this method over winter sowing with a milk jug is that the seeds can be scattered broadly over a large area instead of being concentrated in a small area, Blyth noted. Plus, there’s no need to transplant.
She notes that you can do cold stratification inside, but it’s more difficult: “Many sites suggest dampening a paper towel, sprinkling the seeds on it, placing it in the refrigerator or freezer for several weeks, then taking it out and planting the seeds in a starting mix.
“Save time, effort and space in your refrigerator,” she said. “Take a short walk in the snow, sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle, and then go back in your warm home knowing that you will have some lovely flowers next summer.”
See Blyth’s gardens in this previous article from 2012.