Problems WSing Sweet Peas,Nasturtiums,Four O'clocks

northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)May 18, 2010

I would like to know if anyone has or is experiencing difficulties with winter sowing these three plants.

For several years I could not get these plants to germinate during the spring/summer (before WS). After learning about winter sowing, I considered that these plants were tender annuals and should be started quite late i.e Spring sowing. After a few years without success, last year I planted them in mid-April and voila - success with all three. This year I did the same and there is nothing from any of them. The seeds were from different sources, some of them being seeds I harvested myself from my own plants last year, so what's the deal?

I do remember that last year, I direct sowed some Nasturtiums here & there to add colour while I was sowing my beans and they never came up until August. They were lush but didn't flower until mid-August. So my question is: are there some annuals which need to be treated like perennials as far as time of sowing is concerned? Should these three annuals be sowed in March perhaps, to ensure germination? I am gettting to the point where I want to dig in the containers to see what's happening, but I have done that before and lost emerging seedlings. Anyone having these same difficulties?


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
lisa33(6b Bucks County PA)

I wintersowed sweet peas successfully (four varieties). I sowed them in early March. I completely failed with WS four o'clocks. I sowed them in early April and got nothing. Funny, I was just thinking about that, wondering if it's too late to give it another try. I started Nasturtiums indoors successfully (three varieties). Next year I'll WS those, too. It's funny that you posted this now. Not only was I thinking about the four o'clocks, I was sitting here using my Dremel to nick more nasturtiums seeds to direct sow.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 4:53AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kqcrna(z6 SW Oh)

I've had failures before with 4:00 and nasties when sown early. When I dug them up the seeds looked rotted. Sowing later in warmer weather worked better for me and they germinated quickly. I think big seeds tend to rot with long exposure to cold wet soil.

That's not the case in a garden bed though. I still have 4:00 seeds sprouting there after 3 years. I guess the jug keeps the humidity and moisture high enough for them to stay wet, while a garden bed has lower humidity and dries occasionally. My guess, anyway.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 5:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
token28001(zone7b NC)

I tried sweet peas again this winter. One sprout. The ones I planted directly in the bed did slightly better giving me about 6 plants from 18 hills. It warmed up too fast and they died off when the temperatures hit 92. I'm planning to try again this fall when temperatures will be better for them. I think direct sowing is best. I still can't figure out why.

Four Oclocks are like weeds here. I toss seed into the garden and it grows. I sow it in containers and I get nothing. The seeds rot before they germinate. So now, I just sow them about 2 weeks before the last frost directly where I want them. I also scatter seeds all summer into August. They'll come back from the roots here most years.

Nasturtiums are another that I direct sow. I get very little germination in containers. I did try a new approach this year. I used horse manure mixed with pine shavings in one container. It worked well. The ones planted directly in the garden into the same material all germinated. I think I have one spot in the potager where there should have been a plant. I blame the squirrels for digging the seeds out.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 9:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
token28001(zone7b NC)

Here's a photo of the direct sown Four Oclock bed. I also direct sowed datura. My wintersown seeds didn't produce but two plants from 25 seeds. I think almost all the direct sown ones came up.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 9:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
caryltoo Z7/SE PA

I tried Four o'clocks for the first time this year. Sowed some in April and have maybe two sprouts.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 10:01AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
littleonefb(zone 5, MA)

Nasturtiums and 4 o'clocks are never a problem for me to WS.

I put them out around April 12th-15th and they start germinating around 5/1 and just keep germinating through the end of May.

Now sweet peas are another story. Until last year my germination rate on sweet peas, whether they were WS or direct sown is in the zero to 3 seedlings, if I'm lucky.
No matter what I did with the seeds, nick them and soak them, soak them and sow them, just sow them, those where my results.


Last year I purchased 2 kinds of sweet peas, snoopea and elegant lady and got 2 sets of different instructions from TM seeds. On line it said to surface sow the seeds and on the packets it was cover with 1 inch of soil.

Well, the only thing I never tried was surface sow the seeds. So figured, what the heck, one last shot.

Soaked the seeds overnight and Surfaced sowed the seeds, just pressed them into the soil and left them on the top and Low and Behold, out of 25 seeds of each kind, I got 25 seedlings.

Talk about being shocked.

So this year, I sowed more snoopeas, elegant lady and added streamers and high scent and did an experiment.

Snoopeas and elegant lady where soaked in water overnight and surfaced sowed, and all the seeds germinated into wonderful seedlings.

With the high scent and streamers that say to cover with 1 inch or so of soil, I soaked all the seeds overnight and sowed have the seeds according to the packages and the other half where soaked overnight and surface sowed.

25 high scent seeds soaked and surfaced sowed all germinated, the 25 seeds soaked and sowed as directed with soil on top, only 4 seeds germinated as of this morning.

25 streamer seeds, soaked and surfaced sowed all germinated, the 25 seeds soaked and sowed as directed with soil on top of seeds, only 3 germinated.

So from now on, all my sweet pea seeds will be soaked overnight in water, then surfaced sowed. No more soil on top of them.

Oh, the sweet peas seeds, all 4 kinds where sowed on 4/12/10 and germinated between 4/25 and 4/29.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 2:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wow, that's a shocker. Who would have thought that with that hard shell surface sowing would work.

I got 2 SP from Parks (High Scent and Streamer Pink) and one Royal Mix pack from our nursery (can't remember brand) and chose to nick the seeds. I think i've gotten good germination.

I thought SP were a seed that you could sow in December and have them sprout. Have you ever tried that? I do know I read somewhere that the natural freeze-thaw cycle softens the outer coating and results in germination. Has anybody sown them in December?

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 3:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The Miss Wilmott Sweet Peas did nothing in the WS. I soaked them before, as I did the Morning Glories which sprouted just fine.

I planted tubers (regular way) of 4 O'clocks last year and never got a thing. Not even a leaf.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 4:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

I am quite surprised that so many gardeners are having problems WSing these plants. Thanks for all the feedback. From your experiences, I believe the best option will be to soak and surface seed in late spring. We are having our first real warm week but I have more seed and I will try again. Wish me luck!!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 4:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
littleonefb(zone 5, MA)

Deanna, I WS sweet peas in dec. my first 2 years WS. This is year 7 and got no germination. seeds where nicked and not nicked. soaked and not soaked.


How did you save your tubers? What did you do with them.

I saved 4 of mine from last year and stored them very simply. I dug them up after the plants had all but died back.
Shook off as much soil as I could and pulled of the rest. put them in brown lunch bags labeled with the type of 4 o'clock they where and placed the lunch bags in a plastic grocery bag to dry a bit for a week.

Then I put them inside a plastic cooler in my cellar for the winter. In February, I checked to be sure they where still a bit moist and if drying out, I ran them under the faucet in the sink very quickly, shook the water off and put them back in the lunch bags and in the cooler.

On May 4th I took them out of the bags, and potted them up in pots. I could see that the top of the tuber had some bits of white growth of stems on them and that white is now green and they are growing.

This is the first time I've tried saving the tubers, but also sowed seeds from them as well.

Northerner, good luck trying the sweet pea seeds again. I soak them in those tiny baggies. I start with good warm water in the bag with seeds in them, zip it closed, stand them upright in a bowl and leave them for about 4 hours. Then I carefully pour out the water and put in more good warm water and zip it closed again. next day, usually late morning, I surface sow them, cover them and put them outside in direct sun.

All my containers go out in direct sun.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 5:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't have any luck with sweet peas, have good luck with wsing four oclocks and do all of my nasties directly in the beds. Exactly one week before our avg. date of last frost, I soak the seeds overnight and go out the next moring with a pencil. Poke the pencil point in about an inch along the edges of the beds (where I love my nasties)pop the seed in and cover (they need dark to germinate I think?) They come up beautifully about 2 weeks later when it starts to warm up.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 8:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ellenr22 - NJ - Zone 6b/7a

my 4 o'clocks are finally coming up.
I sowed them over a month ago, I did some soak and some not soak, I don't see any difference.
I find the seeds pop up to the surface, so I re-cover them.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 4:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kiskin (5/6 in EU)(5/6 in EU)

I winter sowed 3 different varieties of Nasturtiums and have a 90% germination so far. Just planted most of them today. On two of the Nast packages the exp. date was 2008!

Of my ws-n Sweet Peas about 65% have germinated. 3 different varieties, one package of old seeds. My lovely other half is adjusting the trellises for them as I type this, so I´ll probably transplant them later today.

I´ve wintersown both Nasturtiums and Sweet Peas before and have always had a good germination. My technique is rectangular TP rolls, filled with moist potting soil and 1 seed. This year, Nasturtiums were sown on Apr. 26th, germ from May 11th onwards and Sweet Peas on Apr. 19th, germ from May 7th onwards.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 9:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
glad2garden(5, Chicopee, Mass)

My method for germinating nasturtiums is to put all the seeds in the pack in between 2 sheets of wet paper towels and put that in a baggie. Then let it stay for a few days until little white roots start growing. Then I carefully plant them outside about 6 inches apart, and lightly cover with soil. I get very good germination this way.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 9:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

I have had care troubles and a surprise visit by two sisters so I have been busy. On May 18, I dug in all the pots to find a few Nast. seeds and no trace of seeds in the other pots. The Nast. pot was really a muddy mess - I had used Miracle-Grow because I could not find anything else that late. I did find one mushy seed and about 5 good hard seeds. I soaked them expecting it be overnight, but they remained untl May 20 because of my car troubles. By then one of the Nasties had germinated and was showing a small root. I potted them all up (no covers) and am waiting to see what happens.

Glad2garden: I germinate all my seeds for indoor sowing that way, but it is trouble compared to WSing. I have almost 50 seedlings grown under lights that I am hardening off right now, so if I can WS any of them I do so. I would also have to time them very carefully because up here, temperatures are so variable in the spring. I planned to use that method with my cukes, zucchini, etc. but it suddenly turned too cold to put them out, so I had to grow them under lights.

Kiskin: you have done very well with your method. But I am beginning to think my poor results can be attributed to the weather. We had a very warm March and April and since I sow my seeds in pretty moist medium, the warmth and moisture probably rotted the seed before they germinated. Perhaps it was not cold enough to give them any cold/warm cycles to loosen their seed coats (I do not usually soak). I am thinking along these lines because I did have success last year, and thought this early warmth would only affect my perennials. Anyway, I'll just wait it out and see what happens. Thanks for all the comments.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2010 at 1:46AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Extreme cold predicted and my seeds have sprouted
I have WS cabbage sprouting here in Zone 7, but Sunday...
OK, Now that I have sprouts what do I do next
Should I water the little baby sprouts? When do I...
Is it too late?
Is it too late to do any WS? I figured I'd use moist...
Unknown seedling in with foxgloves
I planted foxgloves (digitalis), which are the small...
sandyslopes z5 n. UT
The thrill of the sprout
Just checked my containers and have two types of lettuce...
caryltoo Z7/SE PA
Sponsored Products
Twice-Baked Potato Casserole
$70.00 | Horchow
Cherub Blue Giclee Set of Four Shades 3x6x5 (Clip-On)
$49.99 | Lamps Plus
Vector Folding Screen - Black - WK3800-01
$93.00 | Hayneedle
Woodward 3-lt Flushmount
LBC Lighting
Old Dutch 4-piece Fresh Seal Covers Rooster Canister Set
Capri Dark Granite Four Light Bath Fixture with 7-Inch Gold Ice Glass
$308.00 | Bellacor
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™