Starting perennials in milk jugs outside in winter

zaphod42February 3, 2013

I am interested in trying the linked method for starting some Butterfly weed this spring. Haven't done much starting by seed. The hard copy version of this article said that Northern gardeners could start theirs in February, but weren't specific. When in February should I start this? Seems too early now. Mid Feb? Late Feb?

Here is a link that might be useful: Milk jug method

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aquawise(zone 4 Utah)

Some seeds need a certain amount of time in the cold! it is call cold stratification! Or time in cold conditions.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 11:21AM
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zap---try this website. It may be helpful---

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 11:41AM
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kqcrna(z6 SW Oh)

Also see Trudi's FAQs at the top of page 1 of this forum.

Now is fine to wintersow your perennials. You might want to wait until close to spring for tender annuals like zinnia or marigolds.

Welcome to the forum.


Here is a link that might be useful: FAQs

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 7:53AM
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This is a great little tutorial to forward to my grandkids in various states!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 9:07AM
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I started butterfly weed last year, sowed them in Jan in milk jugs. They should do fine if you sow them now.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 10:33AM
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caryltoo Z7/SE PA

That's a great little slide show, and exactly the way I do my milk jugs except i use duct tape.

Now is fine for most things, though I'll do my zinnias and things that sprout quickly a little later. My marigolds went out yesterday and my petunias went out almost three weeks ago as well as a bunch of perennials. They're sitting outside now surrounded by the little bit of snow we've gotten over the past week. The year we had the two blizzards in five days they were covered for weeks and everything did just fine. In fact, I think snow cover makes it easier, it insulates and then waters as it melts -- no fuss, no worry about whether they're drying out.

Give it a try, you'll probably be hooked.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 6:38AM
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How do you know which annuals are ok to go out now

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 6:15AM
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caryltoo Z7/SE PA

If they're on the ws list they're OK to go out any time after Dec. 21. And for sure anything that volunteers for you from time to time can go out -- like that marigold in the walkway crack that you didn't plant for example. My tomatoes went out Tuesday. Nothing will sprout till the conditions are right, and most seeds will just remain dormant till then.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 7:48AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Any seed can go out any time. The concern with annuals is that you might get a period of early warming which will stimulate the seeds to sprout. Then the weather might turn colder again and those sprouts might get frozen and die. So, many of us wait to sow frost-tender annuals until closer to our last frost date. Also, if you have a really wet spring, some of the seeds can rot before they ever get to sprout. I generally just do perennials that might need some cold stratification during the cold winter months and save the annuals for more spring sowing. Hope that helps.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 7:51AM
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