Winter sowing is a method of starting seeds outdoors in winter. This is generally done with seeds that require a period of cold stratification. The method takes advantage of natural temperatures, rather than artificially refrigerating seeds.

Winter sowing involves sowing seeds in a miniature greenhouse outside during winter, allowing them to germinate in spring. Users of this method have had success in most hardiness zones.


There are many advantages to winter sowing:

  • It is simple to do.
  • It's efficient. You do not have to run grow lights for weeks at a time when starting seeds indoors.
  • You don't need to worry about having leggy seedlings because they are planted and grown outdoors.
  • There is no need to harden off the seedlings as they are already acclimated to outdoor conditions. They are ready to plant whenever the outside temperature has sufficiently warmed.
  • Saves space indoors for plants that need to be started prior to planting outside.
  • It allows someone who doesn't have the room, a grow light setup, nor the window space available indoors to start seeds successfully.
  • Prevents seeds from being washed away or eaten.
  • It gives you something to do gardening-wise during winter/early spring.

Containers for winter sowingEdit

Anything that is translucent enough to allow light to pass through and that can be made to have drainage holes, a lid, and a ventilation hole(s) can be used for winter sowing. Options include, but are not limited to, plastic jugs,[1] water or soda bottles, take out containers, disposable foil pans with plastic covers, clamshell containers, disposable beverage cups, plastic tubs,[2] and plastic totes.