What seedlings can you start in January? This post is focused primary on those who live in Zones 5,6,7.
Let’s face it, there really isn’t much that most of us can be starting in January. But with a little creativity (and maybe a cold frame) There are a few garden plants that you can get started in January. Even if you live in zones 5 to 7.
What seedlings can you start in January indoors under lights?
If you live in zones 5-7 the end of January is your time to start onion seedlings. There are of course several different and fairly simple ways to grow onions without growing the seedlings yourself . But if you are itching to get something started early, onions are one of those plants! Onion seedlings need a solid 8 weeks or more to get to transplanting size. Decide on your outside planting date and then count back 8-10 weeks. This is when you want to get those seeds started indoors. If you live in zones 5-7 that date is likely to fall in January.
Many of the longer growing herbs need 8 to 10 weeks to get established and ready for transplant outdoors. So January can be a good time to get a few early plants started. These may be plants that will be going into containers. If that is your plan, January is the time to start, because once they are in their final pot, you can always bring them inside on frosty nights.
Herbs you can plant in late January include, basil, oregano, thyme, chives and parsley. I have found both chives and parsley to be particularly cold hardy making late January the perfect time to get them started indoors.
January 15th is my target date for the first indoor plantings of lettuce. These seedlings will go out in the garden in mid March. For us in zone 5/6 March plantings of lettuce still has to go in a cold frame or a hoop house for protection and warmth. But a mid January planting indoors means we will have fresh lettuce in the garden by early April.
Be sure you have your lettuce seedlings in larger pots. They will be inside for at least 8 weeks (depending on you March weather) so a standard 2 inch pot won’t cut it that long. Either plant them in a 3 to 4 inch pots, or plan on transplanting them out after 4 or so weeks, into a lager pot.
Spinach is one of the more hardy spring plants. It will grow unprotected in our garden starting in March. So a Late January planting indoors is perfect for us.
Keep in mind that spinach is one of those plants that doesn’t transplant really well. They have a deep central tap root that doesn’t like being disturbed. So use larger 3 or 4 inch containers so that when transplant time comes there is plenty of soil around that root ball!
Another very hardly plant on my “what seedlings can you start in January, list” for your early spring garden is Swiss Chard. You can get a few seedlings started in late January to put out in March under the protection of a hoop house, or even just some fabric row cover.
Remember that a few Swiss chard plants can go a long way. Unless you absolutely love this green, 4 or so plants will probably be enough. These early plantings of chard will last well into the summer, giving you tons of leaves and crunchy celery like stalks.
Kale is not everyone’s favorite veggie. I think that is because so many of us grow it at the wrong time of year. Garden kale taste much better when it is grown in very cool to cold temps. In fact, frost enhances the flavor of kale.
Kale grown in the early spring will be much sweeter than what you are normally use to. So get a few plans started indoors in mid January for transplant to the garden in mid March.
Early spring flowers
Many flower seedlings take between 8 to 12 weeks to reach transplant size. Late January may be the time to get many of the hardier flowers started.
Flowers like pansies, will need to be ready to plant out in early to mid April so late January is the time to get them started.
A reminder that this list of “what seedlings can you start in January”, is mainly intended for those living in Zones 5,6,7. If you live in the warmer zones then you have probably already started your seedlings. If you live in a colder zone then you should wait. A good rule of thumb is to start seedlings 6-8 weeks before you intend to plant them out in the garden. In the case of all these January plantings you should also have a hoop house or cold frame to plant these seedlings in when they go out to the garden.
**Note: I’ve had some requests for a link to a Zone Map so you can look up your zone where you live. Here’s the link: