Some seeds require a period of cold to germinate, a defense mechanism so they don’t germinate too early. I find that quite a few perennials and self-seeding annuals that originate in northern climes require this period of “cold stratification,” during which a seed might go through a series of freezes and thaws before a sprout emerges. We can control some of these processes by planting outdoors in the fall or simulating the chill by placing the seeds in a damp environment and placing them in the refrigerator for a month or two or more. I find it most useful to cold stratify seeds in pots if planted directly outside – or to plant them in pots once removed from the fridge – simply to keep track of the new plants, because they are often slow growing and would get lost in the fast-growing weeds of spring. I can then transplant them to a more permanent location once they are big enough to hold their own.

Seeds that Like Cold Stratification

(L) denotes seeds that require light to germinate.
Seed, Common NameScientific Name
AgrimonyAgrimonia eupatoria
Anise Hyssop (L)Agastache foeniculum
Arnica (L)Arnica chamissonis
ArtichokesCynara scolymus
AstragalusAstragalus membranceas
Autumn OliveElaeagnus umbellata
Bachelor buttonsCentaurea cyanus
Balloon FlowerPlatycodon grandiflorum
BerberisBerberis spp.
Bergamot / Beebalm (L)Monarda spp.
BetonyStachys officinalis
BilberryVaccinium myrtillus
Black CohoshActaea racemosa
BloodrootSanguinaria canadensis
Blue Bean TreeDecaisnea fargesii
Blue CohoshCaulophyllum thalictroides
Blue VervainVebena hastata
Boneset (L)Eupatorium perfoliatum
BurnetSanguisorba minor
Butterfly Weed (L)Asclepias tuberosa
CalamusAcorus calamus, A. americanus
CamasCamassia quamash
CatmintNepeta mussinii
Catnip (L)Nepeta cataria
Ceanothus / Red RootCeanothus spp.
Chamomile (L)Anthemis nobilis
Chinese Blackberry LilyBelamcanda chinensis
Chinese LanternPhysalis alkekengi
Chives / Garlic ChivesAllium schoenoprasum, A. tuberosum
CilantroCoriandrum sativum
CleaversGalium aparine
ColumbineAquilegia vulgaris; A. canadensis
EchinaceaEchinacea spp.
ElderberrySambucus spp.
ElderberrySambus nigra, S. canadensis
EryngiumEryngium planum
False Indigo, BlueBaptisia australis
Gentian (L)Gentiana spp.
Geranium, WildGeranium maculatum
GinsengPanax spp.
GojiLycium barbarum
Goldenrod (L)Solidago spp.
GoldensealHydrastis canadensis
Good King HenryChenopodium Bonus-Henricus
GoumiElaeagnus multiflora
HawthornCrataegus spp.
HeatherEupatorium cannabinum
Hemp agrimony (L)Eupatorium cannabinum
HollyhocksAlcea rosea
HopsHumulus lupulus
Joe Pye WeedEupatorium maculatum - L
Jujube, Chinese date; Spiny JujubeZiziphus jujuba, var. spinosa
JuniperJuniperus spp.
Lady's Mantle (L)Alchemilla vulgaris
Larkspur / DelphiniumDelphinium spp.
Lavender (L)Lavandula angustifolia
Lemon Balm (L)Melissa officinalis
LicoriceGlycyrrhiza glabra, G. uralensis
LindenTiila cordata
LobeliaLobelia inflata
LomatiumLomatium dissectum
LupineLupinus spp
MarshmallowAlthaea officinalis
MeadowsweetsFilipendula ulmaria
MedlarMespilus germanica
Milkweed / Pleurisy (L)Aslepias syriaca
MotherwortLeonurus cardiaca
Mountain Mint (L)Pycnanthemum virginianum
MugwortArtemisia vulgaris
MulberriesMorus spp.
MulleinVerbascum thapsus
Oregano (L)Origanum vulgare
Oregon GrapeMahonia spp.
Osage OrangeMaclura pomifera
PassionflowerPassiflora incarnata
PenstemonPenstemon harwegii
Perennial SunflowersHelianthus
PlantainPlatago rugelii
PrimroseOenothera speciosa
Quamash, CamassCamassia quamash
QuinceCydonia oblonga
RampsAllium tricoccum
Rhodiola, Rose-root (L)Rhodiola rosea
RudbeckiaRudbeckia fulgida
SageSalvia officinalis, Salvia spp
Saint John's WortHypericum perforatum
ScabiosaScabiosa spp.
SchisandraSchisandra chinensis
Sea KaleCrambe maritime
SeaberryHippophae rhamnoides
SedumsSedum spp.
Self HealPrunella vulgaris
SkullcapScutallaria lateriflora
Soapwort (L)Saponaria ocymoides; S. officinalis
Solomon's SealPolygonatum biflorum
SpikenardAralia racemosa
Stinging Nettles (L)Urtica dioica
Sweet CicelyMyrrhis odorata
ThymeThymus vulgaris
TrilliumTrillium spp.
ValerianValeriana officinalis
VervainVerbena officinalis
Violet (L)Viola spp.
Wild GingerAsarum canadense
Wild RoseRosa spp.
Wild StrawberryFragaria spp.
Wild YamDioscorea villosa
WintergreenGaultheria procumbens
Witch HazelHamamelis virginiana
Wormwood (L)Artemisia absinthium

This list is by no means all inclusive! It is only those that I now have growing, have grown in the past, or intend to start. If you find errors or additions, please let me know. (Thank you!) I am hoping this list will be of help to others, but as always, be sure to do your own research!