Sharing the joy of birds since 1971

Winter Sowing Workshop Success

Photo by Bill Smith (SMAS)
Happy Sowers from January 2023’s Winter Sowing Workshop – Photo by Bill Smith

Gardening in the dead of winter?  What could be more fun or unexpected?

A full house of very enthusiastic new winter sowers planted more than 60 jugs of native plant seeds at our wildly successful January workshop, “All the Dirt on Winter Sowing Native Plants.” Next spring when the seeds germinate, hundreds of new natives will be planted in gardens across Southern Maryland providing critical food and shelter for birds, pollinators and other wildlife.

Southern Maryland Audubon partnered with Charles County Master Gardeners to teach this cheap and easy way to grow native plants from seeds. (Because we all know it can be expensive to buy natives!)

The technique is very simple: Punch holes in the bottom of a plastic container, take the cap off, cut it open around the middle, fill the bottom with moistened soilless potting mix, sprinkle seeds on top, water, seal the jug with tape and set it outside in the cold, rain and sleet until the seeds sprout in spring. Mother Nature tells the seeds when to germinate. We show you the process step-by-step in our video “Winter Sowing: How to grow your Own Natives for Birds and Beauty” on this website at

The seeds used in our workshop were harvested from the Master Gardener demonstration garden in front of historic Bel Alton High School in southern Charles County and included Common Milkweed, Common Evening Primrose, Orange Coneflower, Blue Wood Aster and many more.

An audience of all ages participated from Charles, St. Mary’s, Calvert and Anne Arundel counties. The workshop drew members of the public, Auduboners, Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists—all who share a passion for promoting the importance of native plants for birds, wildlife and people.

Southern Maryland Audubon President Molly Moore and member Marlene Smith, who are both avid winter sowers, led the workshop. Both are also Charles County Master Gardeners.

A shoutout to Wee Bean Coffee Roasters in LaPlata for donating dozens of recycled milk jugs.

Audubon member and St. Mary’s County Master Gardener Bill Smith took the photo of the happy winter sowers above.