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Collecting seeds from your flowering plants

Published: 30th August, 2017

Collecting seeds from flowering plantsIt’s so rewarding to propagate your own flowers and it can be really easy and inexpensive by collecting your own seeds. It will allow you to keep your garden constantly replenished, year after year, for next to no cost.  It does however have to be done at the right time. Too early and the seeds won’t be fully ready and will not germinate when planted, too late and the plant may have already dispersed of its seeds by itself creating self-setters where you don’t necessarily want them. Many people choose to gather seeds while deadheading plants in the garden.

Annuals are the easiest because they’re the most prolific at producing seeds, but perennials and biennials are also possible. However, some plants aren’t worth gathering seed from because they reproduce much faster by division. Easy plants to start with are poppies, marigolds, petunias, snapdragons, dahlias and daisies.

As your flowering plants complete their blooming cycle they will create little seed pods containing literally thousands of seeds that could become new plants. The seed pod is ready when it dries out and usually changes colour from green to brown, black or red. The plant has to go through its entire growing process from flowering to producing the seed head and then the seed head ripening. Sometimes this can happen literally happen overnight so do check your plants regularly as they approach the end of their cycle. As a rough guide, seed is set about two months after flowering. Before collecting the seeds it’s best if you can to wait until they are at their driest –  so just before the weather turns wet and cold.

The only tools you will need for seed collection are sharp scissors or secateurs, sheet of paper or kitchen towel, paper bags and envelopes. Always collect seeds from your best performing plants. Cut off the seed pods or seed heads from the plant and if it’s a breezy day take them to a sheltered spot or indoors so they don’t blow away! In the case of a seed pod shake the pod upside down into the paper bag. With a dried flower head gently crumble up the head with your finger tips to reveal the seeds inside.

Empty your collected seeds from the bag onto the paper and remove any bugs, dried petals and debris which may harbour disease.  Empty the cleaned seeds into envelopes and label each one clearly so you do not forget which seeds are in it. If your seed heads are slightly damp lay them out to dry in a greenhouse shed or warm windowsill to dry out for about a week first. It is important to use only paper for storage, as seeds can rot in plastic. If in doubt about them still containing moisture you can store the envelopes in an airtight container with some dried silica gel to absorb any excess moisture.

Some seeds can be sown immediately but for most they can be stored for sowing next Spring. Store them in a cool and dark spot for the winter. Do not allow them to freeze or overheat while in storage and keep them totally dry at all times.

Here’s our list of easiest to save seeds from flowering plants:

  • Allium
  • Aquilegia
  • Cleomes
  • Cornflower
  • Calendula (Daisies)
  • Marigolds
  • Nasturtiums
  • Poppies
  • Petunias
  • Snapdragons
  • Dahlias



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