DIY-Perennial Seed Starting

The calendar may say February but now is the time to start seeds of some of your favorite perennial flowers. This idea first appeared on Wintersown ( and is a good way to get a head start on increasing your collection of perennials this year. I’ve successfully tried this technique myself and thought I would share it with you. Here are the materials you will need for this DIY project:

1 Gallon Plastic Milk Jugs
Scissors, a box cutter or utility knife
Screwdriver, awl or some other tool to punch a hole through the bottom of the milk jug
Potting Mix/Soil used for containers
Packing Tape or Duct Tape
Your Favorite Perennial Seeds

The plastic milk containers, which you will place outdoors, act like a mini-greenhouse and the process relies on sun, snow and/or rain to help the seeds to sprout. Here’s how you do it:

1. Take your clean milk jug and using the scissors or another cutting tool start cutting the jug in a circular fashion about 4 inches from the bottom. You don’t want to cut the jug all the way through but leave a few inches around the handle area so it forms a hinge.

2. Using the screwdriver or other tool punch holes in the bottom of the milk jug.

3. Fill the bottom part of the jug with the potting or container soil almost up to the rim where you made the cut in Step # 1. If the soil from the bag isn’t moist use a spray bottle to moisten it.

4. Plant the seeds as directed by the seed packet. Good choices for this technique are Black-eyed Susan, Columbine, Shasta Daisy and Coreopsis. I’ve also done this successfully with Blanket Flowers too. Don’t forget to mark what is planted in the jug!

5. After you finish planting use the packing or duct tape to put the jug back together.

6. Place the jugs anywhere outdoors where they will get sun, rain or snow, but not on the North side of the home where there won’t be enough sunlight. Try to place the jugs close together so they can support one another and not be blown around. The cap for the jug can be discarded as you want the top to be left open to take in and let out moisture.

7. When the weather warms up you can cut the tape along the line that you cut previously and on nice days leave the top open. Leave the top of the jug attached so you can put it back on to protect the plants from freezing temperatures.

8. Now that the lid is going to be off of the plants watering will become necessary. You’ll need to make sure the seedlings don’t dry out until they are ready to plant in the garden.

Don’t be concerned about the cold temperatures and their impact on the plants as perennials are able to handle the cold without a problem. This technique also eliminates the need to harden the plants off before you plant them as they are already accustomed to the outdoor temperatures. If you have any questions about this project please contact us and if you successfully try it yourself why not share your pictures with us on our Facebook page! Happy Planting!

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