Winter is the Best Time to Start a Butterfly Garden!

It may seem a bit strange to be writing about starting a butterfly garden in winter, but this is the best time to start those seeds. Really!

If you want your butterfly garden to look like this you need to start now!

If you live in the south where it never freezes sowing milkweed seeds and native perennial seeds in the winter will give you a helpful head start to a beautiful growing season. But even those of you who live where it freezes in the wintertime can start your seeds in the depth of winter by using the winter sow method.

Winter sowing is a method of starting seeds outdoors in winter. This is generally done with seeds that require a period of cold stratification. Click here to learn more about winter sowing.

And if you just want to wait until spring to start seeds, you will still need to prepare those seeds now. Most perennial plant seeds such as native milkweed and native wildflowers require a combination of cold and damp to germinate. Cold stratification, also known as seed stratification, is the process of exposing seeds to cold and moist conditions to encourage germination. In nature, the stratification process takes place when fallen seeds overwinter underground or beneath a layer of snow. But you can accomplish the process yourself by replicating Mother Nature.

Most native milkweed and native perennial seeds require cold stratification to germinate and grow into healthy plants.
How to Stratify Seeds in the Refrigerator

Follow these steps to cold stratify your seeds in the fridge.

1. Place the seeds in a damp medium. Seeds can be sprinkled onto a damp paper towel or can be placed in a moist medium such as peat moss, sand, or vermiculite. Ensure that the medium is moist but not soaking wet.

2. Store the moist seeds in a plastic bag. Once your seeds are wrapped in a damp paper towel or planted in a moist growing medium, place them in a plastic bag. Be sure to label the bag with the name of the seeds and the date.

3. Place the bag in the fridge.  The time you need to keep your seeds in the refrigerator depends on the variety, but 4-6 weeks should be enough time for most seed varieties. After the recommended days of cold moist stratification are done, you can direct sow the seeds outside in the spring after the last frost under a very light amount of soil or you can start them in containers with soil. The simple, quick process of cold stratification helps the seed germinate quicker and grow more readily in your garden bed.

Learn how to plant wildflowers in the spring.

Native Milkweed Seeds That Require Cold Stratification
Click here to find seeds:
Native Flower Seeds That Require Cold Stratification
Click here to find seeds: