What is Frost Seeding?

By Allison Wickham

From: Farm and Dairy Magazine

Frost Seeding. It’s exactly what it sounds like!

Frost seeding is the practice of planting or broadcasting seeds while the soil is experiencing frost/thaw cycles. Frost seeding is a great way to plant native wildflower seeds, but why?

In nature, most of the native flowers found in the wildflower seed mixes we send with every NectarShare, the plants bloom in the summer, the seeds mature in the late summer, and they drop in the fall. The seed rests in the soil during the short days and cold nights of fall and winter, and when the soil begins to warm in the spring, they start to grow. Other species develop vegetatively that same summer, going dormant in the winter, blooming in the spring. There are even a few seeds that require a freeze before they’ll germinate. This is called cold stratification. The ever-popular milkweed seed requires cold stratification before it will germinate. This can be accomplished via a freezer, but no one does it like mother nature.

frost seeding wildflower seeds
purple coneflower requires cold stratification before it will germinate

Broadcasting the seed onto the soil surface during the frost/thaw time of year works better than broadcasting seed after the last frost, because the freezing and thawing of the soil has a physical motion that mechanically works the seed down into the soil. The lifting and shifting of the soil when it freezes is called “honey combing” (appropriate). The honey combs drag the seed down as the soil thaws and sinks back down. There is also moisture associated with the thawing of the frost which helps soften and prepare the seed.

Check out this article about frost seeding in Farm and Dairy Magazine’s website.

So! Get out there this winter and get those seeds planted. Its nature’s way!

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