With sub-zero outdoor temperatures and heavy frosts, sowing seeds might be some way down your to-do list. However, it’s never too early to get a head start on your home-growing journey and there are several flower and vegetable seeds that you can sow now.
With a little effort, you’ll have a selection of plants ready to move outside in late spring and you’ll save money too.
Grab a warm cuppa and have a look at our pick of the best seeds to sow in January:
What flowers can I plant in January?
With the exception of spring-flowering bulbs, it’s too cold to plant flower seeds outside in January. Instead, sow seeds and keep them indoors by a sunny window, or in a heated greenhouse, ready for planting out when they’re big enough to handle and the risk of frost has passed. This way, you’ll have a gorgeous selection of flowers to add to your pots and hanging baskets in a few months.
These candy-coloured flowers are a fabulous addition to pots and borders. They flower for months, from June to October and there are several varieties to choose from.
Sow snapdragon seeds thinly on top of a layer of compost in a seed tray, water and cover with a bag or place in a seed propagator. Keep them in a sunny location. You can remove the cover or lid once the little seedlings have open leaves. Plant outside in May when the plants are big enough to handle without damage.
Now is a great time to sow sweetpeas, they should be ready to plant out in April as long as the ground isn’t frozen, although they can handle light frosts.
Some people recommend soaking sweetpea seeds before sowing but they should germinate perfectly well without. Sweetpeas do best if they have a long, deep channel to grow in, cardboard toilet rolls are ideal. Sow several seeds about 1cm deep and water well. They should germinate in 10-14 days.
As the seedlings grow tall, you can pinch out the top shoots, encouraging them to produce side shoots and ultimately more flowers.
Geraniums need some patience, a little TLC and a lot of light to grow but you’ll be rewarded with beautiful, long-lasting summer blooms.
You’ll need a seed starting mix to sow your geranium seeds into. Place one seed per pot and cover with a light layer of the mix. Cover with a clear bag or lid and place in a bright location, remove the cover for an hour or so each day to allow any moisture to escape. When the plants have a set of leaves, you can remove the cover permanantly.
Geraniums need 10-12 hours of light a day so you will need a plant light to help them grow.
A hanging basket staple, miniature lobelia flowers are ideal for sowing now, ready for adding to baskets and containers in late spring.
More on this: Hanging Basket Tips for a Perfect Basket of Blooms
Sow the tiny lobelia seeds into a tray filled with compost, do not cover the seeds as they need light to germinate. Keep the soil moist but water from the bottom so you don’t disturb the seeds. Germination should take place within 14-20 days. Once large enough, you can thin out as necessary before planting outside.
Verbena is a must-have summer garden plant. With tall spikes of butterfly and bee attracting purple flowers, it will flower all summer long.
Sow verbena seeds into trays with cells. Cover with soil and thin the plants out to individual cells when the first true leaves appear. Young plants can be pinched back to encourage denser growth.
These beautiful flowers are perfect for cutting, drying and adding to wreaths or other arrangements.
Sow strawflower seeds by pressing them gently into a layer of compost in a seed tray. Don’t cover the seeds. The seedlings will need around 16 hours of light each day so you will need the help of a plant light. Position strawflowers in full sun when planting outside.
Don’t forget to harden off young plants before planting them outside. You can do this over a couple of weeks, gradually extending the time the plants are left outdoors, before bringing them in again at night.
What vegetables can I plant in January?
If you have a heated greenhouse then you can sow aubergine seeds now, if not, they’ll need a warm location in the house to germinate, like an airing cupboard.
Sow the seeds in small compost filled pots and water. If placing seeds in an airing cupboard to germinate, check them each day and remove them as soon as they germinate. Place onto a warm windowsill.
Aubergine plants like warmth so are best grown in a greenhouse or a sunny, sheltered spot.
Now is the time to ‘chit’ seed potatoes which basically means letting seed potatoes grow shoots before planting them outside. You need to buy special seed potatoes, potatoes from the supermarket won’t be reliable.
To chit, place seed potatoes in an egg box and stand in a cool but light area until shoots appear. This can take up to 6 weeks. Check out our full guide on growing potatoes for more tips and tricks.
Packed with nutrients and delicious raw or cooked, spinach is a staple vegetable that can be grown all year round.
Sow the seeds in compost and cover them with a thin layer of soil. Place in a sunny spot inside or in a greenhouse. If spinach is sown every few weeks, you’ll have a constant supply. It will be ready to harvest 6-10 weeks after sowing. Spinach will grow happily in a container so is a great option if you don’t have space for a vegetable patch.
One of the most versatile vegetables, having a supply of home-grown onions is well worth the effort. Start onions indoors now and they will be ready to plant out in the spring.
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You can grow onions from sets (bulbs) but growing onions from seed can mean the plant is less likely to bolt. Sow the seeds around 1cm apart in a compost-filled seed tray or plant 3-4 seeds per cell. Divide the seedlings when they are a few inches tall.
Delicious in ‘slaw and salads, summer cabbages can be sown indoors now. You can also plant broccoli, cauliflower and lettuce, ready to move into the garden in early spring.
Sow cabbage seeds in trays filled with compost and sink them around 2cm into the soil. If you can, place the seeds into individual cells. Place on a sunny windowsill, water and watch them grow!
12. Broad beans
Incredible added to salads, you can sow broad beans in pots now. Add one bean per pot and place them in a greenhouse or sheltered, mild outdoor spot to grow.
Like the flowers above, make sure that vegetable plants are hardened off before transferring them outside.
In the coming weeks, we’ll have plenty more gardening content for you – keep an eye out for our next seasonal growing guides, and don’t forget to read up on the basics of growing your own vegetables.