7 Seeds to Sow in January for Flourishing Flowers and Delicious Vegetables Through Spring and Summer

Get planting these seeds now if you want your backyard to bloom magnificently through spring and summer

Salad leaves growing in containers
(Image credit: Getty Images)

January can feel like the longest, darkest part of the winter, so you'd be forgiven for not prioritizing your backyard at the moment. Come spring and summer, though, you might regret not getting green-fingered earlier in the year when you realize you missed out on the perfect time to sow seeds that flourish in those sunnier months.

If you're dreaming of serving home-grown salads to friends over long outdoor lunches this summer, you need to think about getting those seeds planted soon. Not only is now a great time to plant certain fruit and vegetables but some standout flowers are also best sown in January, too. We spoke to two gardening experts to bring you their advice on what to sow for a backyard full of flourishing flowers and delicious vegetables through spring and summer.

1. Salad leaves

oriental salad leaf mix

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Growing your own salad leaves really couldn't be easier and it's a great way to get started on creating your own vegetable garden. Plant expert, Zahid Adnan, says that lettuce, spinach and kale are particularly good seeds to sow in January if you want an endless supply of green leaves come the spring. Lettuce should ideally be sown indoors in trays or large pots and tends to be ready to eat after just 4-6 weeks, so sow them now to reap the benefits in early spring. 

That said, spinach and kale are best grown outdoors as they both favor cold weather growth. In particular, kale benefits from enhanced flavor and boosted nutritional value when the seeds are planted in January temperatures. Spinach will need harvesting roughly 6-8 weeks after germination and kale can be harvested in the early spring.

2. Tomatoes

A tomato plant - which requires a lot of water to flower

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Tomato plants are one the most popular choices for home-growers and once fully grown, provide a rich and plentiful harvest perfect for cooking with or eating as they are. According to gardening expert Tony O'Neill, however, it's important to get a good head start with them. 'Sowing them in January ensures they are robust enough to transplant after the frost,' he says. 

Tomatoes are also well-suited for container gardening so you can start growing your own no matter how big your outdoor space is. The likelihood of an abundant harvest is higher if you get going now!

3. Peppers

hydroponic gardening system with peppers and lettuce

(Image credit: Gardyn)

Just like tomatoes, peppers need to be sown around now if you want to show-off your grow-your-own talent this summer. Peppers have a slightly longer growing period, not usually being harvested until later on in the summer, therefore sowing in January is essential.

Peppers are best sown indoors under grow lights to help give them the kickstart that they need. After the last frost, though, feel free to transfer them outdoors to bring a burst of color to your modern garden

4. Leeks

A vegetable garden with leeks growing

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Leeks are one of the best vegetables to sow in January. Similar to peppers, they have a much longer growing period so it's best to sow the seeds this month to get a headstart. 

'January is perfect for starting leeks,' explains Tony. 'They have a long growing season, and being started in a controlled environment means they'll be ready for the less predictable spring weather.' If you start your leek seeds now, they'll be ready to harvest in late summer or early fall, just in time for warming soups or hearty pies. 

5. Eggplants

Eggplants growing in the soil

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Eggplants are a versatile vegetable that works perfectly as the focal point of a delicious meal, whatever the season. January is a great time to sow the seeds as they have a relatively long growing season, but starting them indoors can often be a better choice if you live in a colder climate. 

'Starting eggplants in January is ideal, especially for climates with a shorter growing season,' says Tony. 'They require a warm and long growing period, so early sowing is key for a successful harvest in late summer or early fall.' They're also suitable for a small vegetable garden thanks to their contained size.

6. Chives

herbs in cardboard box

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A popular herb, chives are an easy way of elevating a meal to give it a powerful flavor. Start the seeds indoors as part of an indoor herb garden before moving outside once the risk off frost has disappeared. 'Starting chive seeds indoors provides a head start in a controlled environment,' says Zahid. 'Generally though, chives thrive in cooler conditions.' After 6-8 weeks of them growing outdoors, you can harvest your herbs and pat yourself on the back.

7. Petunias

web-Petunia sweetunia Johnny Flame'

(Image credit: Thompson & Morgan)

Not fancying a foray into the world of growing vegetables? Why not try sowing some petunias this January to bring a touch of color and joy to your outdoor space once the weather warms up. One of the best flowers for hanging baskets, these vibrant blooms will make your backyard look bright and luxurious and are sure to receive all the compliments from impressed guests. 'They take a while to grow from seed, but you'll have beautiful, vibrant flowers by spring and summer,' says Tony. 

Imogen Williams
Trainee writer

Imogen is a freelance writer and student on the Magazine Journalism master's degree at City, University of London following her Modern Languages degree at The University of Exeter. She has written for lifestyle and popular culture magazines as well as wellness and sports magazines. She has a long-standing interest in interior design and London architecture and is a firm believer in the power of bold wallpaper.