Winter flower sowing #816969

Asked November 28, 2022, 7:18 AM EST

I had a tree cut down this summer and now I have more sun in that bed. I would like to throw some seeds in that bed to attract mor butterflies and hummingbirds. That bed has lots of butterfly weed and black eyed Susan’s but PIkesville has few butterflies as I keep watch. In 2019, I released 15 swallowtails. I have another garden that has bee balm and butterfly plant. What seeds do you suggest I can throw down during the winter and not need any digging? Would I need to cover the seeds with a layer of soil? Do you have seed at the Hunt Valley locating?

Baltimore County Maryland

Expert Response

While we don't have a reference list of seed-sowing details for various perennial species, there are a wide range of candidates for a sunny location that should interest pollinators, especially if the soil is well-drained and deer browsing is a non-issue. If covering the seed is needed, a relatively light layer would be needed since the seeds will be fairly small (compared to many tree/shrub seeds). You may need to research the sowing instructions for the species you select to plant to determine which are the most practical for what you wish to do. Options  highly popular with butterflies and other pollinators include:
  • Asters
  • Eupatorium
  • Liatris
  • Verbena (like the non-native Verbena bonariensis, which tends to self-sow readily once established)
  • Agastache foeniculum
  • Salvia
  • Nepeta
  • Silphium
  • Helianthus
  • Helenium
If you were intending to buy seeds locally, seed packets are dated for each year they are intended to be sown for best germination rates, and nurseries should be refreshing their seed inventory sometime in January with seeds dated for 2023. Most will probably not have any 2022-dated packets left this late in the year, especially for flowering perennials since the latest batch brought in late in the growing season tends to be cool-weather vegetables. The Baltimore County Extension office in Cockeysville probably doesn't have seeds on-hand, but you could contact them to ask if you wish.

Mira Talabac Replied November 28, 2022, 3:26 PM EST



Thank you very much again for your quick turn-around of my question and for your suggestions.   I will check out some of the local nurseries I purchase my summer plants from and some of the online seed companies I have used and see if they have any suggestions in winter planting.  I am aware that the seed packets are dated but thank you as not everyone is aware of that fact.  I am going to do some online reading about sowing seeds in the winter.


Best wishes and stay well!



The Question Asker Replied November 28, 2022, 3:42 PM EST
You're welcome. If winter-sowing in containers (gallon plastic milk jugs being a popular choice), covering the seeds with soil is probably not necessary, and the technique in general will make it simpler to raise the seedlings to transplant stage without having to worry as much about what sprout is a weed versus the desired plant; it will also reduce or eliminate seed predation over the winter too by birds or rodents.

Mira Talabac Replied November 28, 2022, 3:56 PM EST



That is all excellent information for me.  I have never done this before but wanted to do something different have new and different flowers for this coming spring and summer.  I could probably put the jugs up on my deck where they would get great sun and I could keep a watch out for them.  You are right.  I would not be able to differentiate between weeds and a new sprout and I don’t want to feed the rodents or the birds.    There are plenty feeders in the yard for the birds.


Thank you again!



The Question Asker Replied November 28, 2022, 4:05 PM EST
You're welcome!
Mira Talabac Replied November 28, 2022, 4:06 PM EST

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