Sowing Seeds

It’s January: Get Sowing!

Source:, & mzayat. com

True enough, January is far too early to be sowing seeds indoors … for most plants (think more March or April). Sowing so early is restricted to a very select group of especially slow-to-mature plants that need about four to five months of indoor culture before they’re ready to plant outdoors.

Here are the ones I can think of:

  1. Agastache (Agastache foeniculum)
  2. Datura (Datura metel)
  3. Fairy Snapdragon (Chaenorrhinum origanifolium, syn. C. glaerosum)
  4. Lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflora)
  5. Spike dracaena or cabbage palm (Cordyline australis, syn. indivisa)
  6. Tritome (Kniphofia)
  7. Tuberous Begonia (Begonia × tuberhybrida)

Special Care for Early Sowings

Artificial light is essential for seeds started in January. Source: laidbackgardener. blog

Starting seed in January in the Northern Hemisphere requires a bit of attention. The days are short, the sun is weak and, in many areas, the weather is gray more often than sunny, meaning light is seriously lacking. Also, temperatures in front of the average windowsill are cool, yet almost all seeds need warmth—and fairly even temperatures—to germinate well. As a result, you pretty much have to start these under artificial lights, such as fluorescent or LED plant lights, and in the warmest part of your home.

Germinate the seedlings under glass, possibly over a heating pad, as above. Source:

Always start winter-sown seeds “under glass” (under some sort of transparent covering) to maintain high humidity and stable temperatures. And choose a room that is at least moderately warm (72 to 75? F/21 to 24? C) or place the seed containers on a heating pad (one specifically designed for plants). Use a timer to set the day length of your lamp at 14 hours to simulate the long days of summer and place the containers of freshly sown seeds about 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) below the lamp. Now, wait patiently for germination to occur. (One reason that certain seeds need early sowing is that they are slow to germinate.)

Once they’ve sprouted, just give them the same loving care you would to any seeds sown indoors!

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

1 comment on “It’s January: Get Sowing!

  1. In some climates, it is not too terribly early. (Well, it might have been when you wrote this two weeks ago.) Just prior to February, we can sow seed for some of the warm season vegetables and annuals. They won’t come up right away of course. By the time they do, they will be safe. Our last frost date is at the end of January.

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