perennial seed starting 11.19.20

I’ve collected perennial seeds in the past and started them in small pots, but after I watched this video about seed starting, created by the park staff where I live in Dane County, Wisconsin, I decided to “go bigger!” Perennial seeds in the midwest need a cold period to germinate, so they have to spend time outside in the winter.

I collected seeds from plants that I already grow in my garden:

  • Orange (native) Columbine
  • Purple Columbine
  • Thalictrum
  • Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans)
  • Coneflower “Cheyenne Spirit”
  • Coneflower, White
  • Lupine
  • Silene
  • Purple and White Columbine (seeds saved from 2018)
  • Early Sunflower or Oxeye (Heliopsis helianthoides) from a free seed packet I received from Prairie Moon Nursery
I save the seeds in unused envelopes that I get from non profits asking for money each year. I donate to these organizations online, so I can recycle the envelopes for seed saving.
I don’t drink gallons of milk, but my neighbor’s family does, so I asked them to save milk jugs for me. I cut them in half almost all the way around and partially filled each jug with dirt. Then I realized that I’d forgotten to add drainage holes, so drilling those was a bit messy.
These are seeds from the White Coneflower.
Here’s a sample planting, this one with Thalictrum seeds. I label the outside and inside of each jug with permanent marker, and just to be safe, add a wooden stick labeled with pencil. Pencil never wears away:)
I tape the top of the jug to the bottom with duct tape in one place, just so the top won’t flop open. And I leave most of that top-bottom connection open just a bit, to let water and snow get in to the dirt and seeds. For the same reason, I leave the caps off the jugs.

In the spring, when it’s warm enough, I’ll flip open the top of the jugs to let sunlight in. Once the plants have a couple sets of true leaves, I’ll transplant to individual pots. Then when they’re big enough, in to my garden.

I also collected seeds from my annual flowers and veggies, and I’ll start those indoors next spring. Seed starting keeps me hopeful:)


2 thoughts on “perennial seed starting 11.19.20

  1. I’ve saved the milk jugs, purchased the potting soil, and am just waiting for my seed order for some new perennials to arrive and then I’ll be following your lead and planting for spring!

    Liked by 2 people

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