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Saving Flower Seed

Saving Flower Seed

I remember as a little girl my great-grandfather and also my grandmother saving flower seed from the plants they loved to grow.

They looked for characteristics in certain flowers, and then picked out the best plants of the batch to save the seeds from.

Today, I continue that practice using some of the tricks they used and a few of my own.

Marigolds almost finished for the season

Collecting seed is easy to do and sometimes, it is sort of like winning the flower lottery the following year when your new plants come to meet the morning sun.

Choosing Your Plants To Save Seed From

You will want to start saving flower seed from plants that are not hybrids or cultivars Why is that? Not all flowers grown from seed look like the mother plant. The produce seeds either won’t germinate, or the resulting plants don’t have the same characteristics as their parents. 

  • Look for plants labeled as heritage or an old-fashioned favorite.
  • Annuals are the easiest seed to start with.
  • Choose seeds that are from one variety so they do not cross-pollinate.
  • Pick healthy plants with no disease and excellent flowers.
  • Remember which plant to collect seed from by tying a ribbon lightly around the plant.

Dry seed head of a marigold
Dry seed head of a marigold

Some Flowers To Collect Seed From

  • Bachelor’s Button
  • Calendula
  • Corn Poppy
  • Cosmos
  • Globe Amaranth
  • Hyacinth Bean Vine
  • Larkspur
  • Marigold
  • Moonflower
  • Morning Glory
  • Nicotiana
  • Poppy
  • Zinnia

When To Collect Flower Seed

As a general rule of thumb after the flowers fade, the seeds are produced. Blooms need to fade and dry on the plant so the seeds can develop and mature.  Each plant has a unique process and time.

  • Most seeds are collected when deadheading plants and the seeds go from green to brown.

Bag of Marigold Seed Heads
Bag of Marigold Seed Heads

How To Collect Flower Seed

The process is simple.  Want to plant the same type of flower next year?  Collect the seed. You have nothing to lose by trying.

• Wait for the seed to dry naturally going from green to brown.

• Label a paper or plastic bag for each type of seed you want to collect.

• Use a pair of clean, sharp garden scissors to clip the seed head off and place in labeled bag.

• Some types of flowers you can just shake the head of the plant and the seeds will fall.

•  Collect on a dry and sunny day.

• Some types of herbs like for dill for an example, you will need to watch for seeds to appear.  Dill seed likes to scatter seeds when they ripen. For those types like dill, the poppy is excellent examples, clip before completely dry and let ripen and dry on newspaper.

Marigold Seeds From Dried Blossom Head

Drying Flower Seeds

In order for mold not to set in on seeds, you will need to dry the seed before storage.

• Spread seeds on a layer of newspaper or old window screen.  Leaving space between the seeds for air to circulate.

• Depending on moisture in the seed it can take 1 – 4 weeks for the seeds to dry.

• Do a  simple bend and snap test to check for dryness. If the seed or pod bends, the seeds should be dried further before being stored. You want the seed or pod to cleanly snap in half.

• Label a paper bag or envelope with the name of seed and date collected and store in a dry, cool place.

• Some people store their dry seed in glass containers, you could if completely dry.  I like to give my seed breathing room.

Saving Flower Seed: Collect, Dry and Store

• If adding seeds to glass containers add one spoonful of dry milk powder in the middle of a piece of paper towel secured with a rubber band. Acts like silica moisture packs.

That is it! Nothing More, Nothing Less

Trial and error are part of the madness and fun that goes hand in hand with saving flower seed to plant for next year.  You really have nothing to lose by trying your hand at saving the seed and maybe, a little money too.

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