Cold Stratification for Seed Success

We now have native prairie seeds available for purchase in our Creekside shop!
Some prairie seeds will germinate best when they have undergone a process of cold stratification. This process occurs naturally in prairies during the winter when seeds fall onto the snow (which moistens them) and germinate in the Spring when their environment is just right. Seeds in our shop that like to be cold stratified are: Lavender Hyssop, Purple Coneflower, Red Milkweed, Butterflyweed, and Prairie Lupine.
There are many ways to cold stratify seeds but we decided to choose the paper towel method.

  • A Ziploc bag
  • A paper towel
  • Milkweed seeds or other variety
  • A permanent marker

STEP 1: Empty seeds onto paper towel.

STEP 2: Wet paper towel.

STEP 3: Fold paper towel in half over seeds.

STEP 4: Wet again.

STEP 5: Insert into Ziploc bag.

STEP 6: Identify & date.

STEP 7: Put into refrigerator.

  • Be sure not to moisten the paper towel too much. There should be no standing water in the bag or mold will grow.
  • Make sure to squeeze out all the air from the bag when all steps are completed.
  • Check the bag once a week to make sure your seeds are healthy and sprouting.
  • Once the seeds have been in the refrigerator for a month, transplant each seed/sprout into small pots or seed trays filled with seed starter mix. Regular potting soil will be too dense for the seeds to grow well.
  • IF YOU DO NOT USE ALL OF YOUR SEEDS, throw them out on a desired plot in late Autumn and let nature do this process for you OR give to friends so they can be in on the fun too!
cold stratification, how-to, seed savers, seed starting, seeds
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