January is the month to... sow seeds for stratifying
It’s incredibly rewarding to grow plants directly from seed. All that’s required is a little knowledge about seed germination and care, and quite a lot of patience. Some plants, such as agapanthus, can take years to reach their first flower, but believe us - it is well worth the wait!
Certain seeds have special requirements for germination and many perennial seeds require a period of moist cold conditions (stratification) before they start to develop. They get this naturally in the wild by lying on the ground and being subject to frost. However, without this period of cold and wet, certain seeds won't germinate at all.
The next two months are the perfect time for stratification if you’re looking to grow from seed. Those that benefit from cold stratification include Aconitum, Actaea, Anenome, Cornus, Cyclamen, Mecanopsis and Primula, amongst others.
All you need to do is sow the seed into some good quality seed compost, water, and place outside in an open cold frame. Alternatively, place into damp compost (may help to mix 50:50 with Perlite) in a sealed plastic bag and store in the fridge for up to 12 weeks. For more information about specific plants and the temperatures and conditions they require for germination, see this handy guide from the Royal Horticultural Society.
Good luck! Let us know how you get on.