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All About Seed Collecting

Do you gather seeds from your favorite flowers or vegetables in the Fall? I’ve been doing a bit of Gathering and Sowing Seeds and I get excited thinking about the little seedlings coming up next spring. I can go crazy overboard buying seeds in the winter when the seed catalogs come out, but those $2, $3 and $4 seed packets can add up. I’ve collected seeds in the past, but this year I’m going all out seed collecting. And, really, it hardly takes anytime at all. Plus, I get a thrill every year watching plants grow in my gardens that I grew from seed, especially flowers that I saved seeds from the year before. Yep, I’m a total garden geek!

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Supplies Needed:

    • Plastic cups or bowls to collect the seeds in
    • Envelopes or Free Printable Seed Packets
    • Index card dividers (Optional, but very helpful. They’re included in the seed storage box below.)
    • Seed Storage Box (this is so CUTE and it holds a tons of seed packets. I love mine!).  If you don’t want to purchase something, a shoe box works just fine.

How to Harvest or Collect Flower Seeds

  • Grab some plastic cups or bowls (paper lunch bags work well too). I also carry along a marker and a pair of scissors.
  • Look for seed pods that are dried out, like the one in the picture of the marigolds below.

Seed Collecting

  • Next, snip the seed pods off the plant.
  • Break or cut the seed head open and voila you have seeds. In some cases, seeds are hard to separate from the chaff. Don’t even worry about trying to separate the chaff from the seed. Just plant it all and it will grow.
  • Make sure your seeds are completely dried out before you store them. If they need to dry a bit more, I just spread them out in a shoe box lid until they are dry enough.

Easy Flower Seeds to Gather

Annual Seeds to Gather

  • Marigolds
  • Snapdragons
  • Cleome
  • Cosmos
  • Sunflowers
  • Zinnias
  • Nasturtiums
  • Morning Glory
  • etc., etc…

Perennial Seeds to Gather

  • Balloon Flower
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Coneflower
  • Baptisia
  • Columbine
  • Liatris
  • Hollyhock
  • Foxglove
  • etc., etc…

Tips for Sowing Your Newly Collected Seeds

Did you know you can you can sow some of the seeds you gathered now? Especially perennial seeds that require cold saturation in order to germinate.

Here’s a little lesson on Biennials and why it’s important to save seeds from them. Some examples of Biennials are Foxglove, Hollyhock and Sweet William. I love Foxglove, but they are a Biennial and it’s tricky to get a patch going. Here’s the scoop on biennials: the first year you will get a nice looking plant, but usually just leaves. The second year the plant will flower. And that’s it, their biennial life cycle is done. BUT, by sowing seeds every fall (either naturally or manually), you can get a nice bunch or patch of biennials and just keep the life cycle going. Wow, I totally got side tracked with that little lesson on Biennials.

So go ahead and sprinkle some of those perennial or biennial seeds you gathered in places where you’d like those plants to grow. In my case, I mulch my gardens, so I scrape back the mulch and rake up the ground a bit before I sprinkle the seeds, pack them down a bit and spread the mulch back over the area. I did this with foxglove seeds last year and I had a nice area of first year plants come up. Be sure to place a plant marker where you sow the seeds.

Another important thing about seed collecting to note is if you have a hybrid flower and collect seeds from it, the resulting flower next year may or may not look like the plant you collected the seed from. I won’t go into a science lesson, but hybrid seeds generally revert back to the dominate parent plant that they were hybridized from.

A Pin to Save for Later

Seed Saving

How to Save Your Newly Collected Seeds

First of all, I have the cutest, little printable seed packets in my Gardening Resources Library. They are free to subscribers of Gingham Gardens, along with all my other gardening printables. Get instant access to the Gardening Resources Library by completing the form below. Or, you can just use plain envelopes, or recycled pill bottles.

Transfer the seeds you collected into your seed packets. Don’t forget to mark your seed packet with the name of the seed.

I’m using this Seed Organizer & Storage Box to store my seeds, along with dividers – one for annuals, one for perennials and one for vegetables. Photo boxes or shoe boxes also work great for storing seeds. Be sure to store your seeds in a dry place. I usually put a few silica gel packets (those little packets that come in pill bottles and other stuff) in the box I store my seeds in to help with moisture control.

For a more thorough tutorial, be sure to check out: Seed Storage Ideas for the Home Gardener.

Since I tend to go overboard collecting and buying seeds, I use the Seed Inventory Chart that is also available in the Gardening Resources Library. I keep one in my Gardening Journal and one with my seeds, just to keep track of the seeds I have. That way when the seed catalogs start showing up, I can look and see what I already have. I love it when I’m organized like that!

I’ve tried to keep this tutorial really simple, because gardening really shouldn’t be complicated. Hard work, yes… Complicated, no! If in doubt, when it comes to anything gardening, I just say go for it. One of the best ways to learn is to experiment.

Would you like to save vegetable seeds from some of your homegrown veggies this year, check out Saving Vegetable Seeds from the University of Minnesota Extension for some great tips.

What to Do With The Seeds You’ve Saved

In January we’ll talk about Winter Sowing our seeds and in February, we’ll talk about Starting Seeds Indoors. Yay, so much gardening goodness to look forward to!

I encourage you to practice some thriftiness in gardening and get out there and collect some seeds. Seed collecting is fun, easy and next spring when you get to witness those little seedlings coming up you’ll be so glad you took the time to gather those seeds this Fall. Be sure to leave plenty of seeds heads over winter for the birds.

Here are some other Fall Gardening posts you’ll enjoy:

Quick & Easy Steps for Fall Garden Cleanup
How to Overwinter Geraniums
Planting Bulbs in the Fall for Amazing Spring Flowers
Tips for Keeping Potted Mums Looking Great

Fall is the best time to plan next year’s Gardens!
DIY Garden Journal

I’m so glad you stopped by Gingham Gardens today! Feel free to hang around the gardens for awhile. I love hearing from you, so if you have any questions or comments, feel free to fill out the comment form at the bottom of this post.

Happy gardening,
Joanna

p.s. Please help me out by pinning these pictures. Simply hover in the upper left-hand corner and click the “pin” icon. There are more pins at the bottom of the page. Thanks!!!!

p.p.s. Follow Gingham Gardens on Pinterest for lots of great gardening ideas and tons of gardener’s eye candy.

Pins to Share:

Images of Seeds with Text Overlay - How to Collect and Store Flower Seeds

 

Image of Flower Garden with Text Overlay - How to Gather & Store Flower Seeds for Next Year's Garden

 

14 Comments

  1. Hi, I had zinnias this year and so many seed fell on the ground. Will they come up next year? I also collected a lot of them to plant next spring. Wasn’t sure what I needed to do about the ones that fell .

    1. Hi Patricia, yes, depending what gardening zone you’re in, sometimes you’ll get annuals that reseed themselves. For instance, here in my zone 4 gardens, sometimes I’ll get alyssum, snapdragons, asters, etc that reseed themselves. I’ve never had zinnias reseed though. Don’t worry about the seeds that fell to the ground. Good luck and have fun collecting seeds. Happy gardening, Joanna

  2. Thank you! I think I will try it! Last year I overwintered my geraniums and it worked out great! I will do that again this year! Can you over winter those ivy geraniums? I might try it to see if it works.
    Happy Fall!
    Lisa

    1. Hi Lisa, I’ve never tried overwintering an ivy geranium, but I totally would if I had one. It certainly can’t hurt anything and it’s fun to experiment. Have fun collecting seeds. Happy gardening, Joanna

  3. I have started collecting zinnia seeds but I just put them in a paper sack and in the spring just throw the seeds around and they grow. This fall I collected marigold seeds. I also save my geraniums over winter and I have really good luck. Thanks for all the great info. I’m just 30 minutes south of you so what grows for you might work for me with a little luck.

    1. Hi Julie – I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. Snapdragons are another annual that you can collect seeds from and sprinkle them on the ground in the fall and lots of them will come up the following spring. It’s fun to experiment and try this with different seeds. Thanks for stopping by. Happy fall!

  4. Joanne, Do you know if I can collect Salvias that are annuals in my zone. I have quite a variety and it is getting rather expensive to purchase the ones I like in my garden. Thanks for any info.

    1. Hi Kathy – I have some beautiful Rockin Blue Suede Shoes Salvia that were hummingbird magnets this year and I would love to save them. I’m going to try overwintering them just like I do geraniums, except I’ll use a plastic bag to help keep a little moisture in the roots. I’m also going to try taking cuttings. I’ve read that it’s nearly impossible to find seeds on a salvia and I too haven’t had luck with this. I would encourage you to try a few of these ways to overwinter your salvia plants. Good luck!

  5. We live in zone 6 and I have not collected seeds in the past but you have motivated me to start. There is still time here but it is fast approaching no turning back. Have trimmed a lot of the perennial and just dropped the seed head where I wanted to spread them around. We have 5 acres so we have a lot of area to play with. Love the wood seed box – you really need it. Probably better for breathing than the plastic. Love you blog and an envious of your cooler temps when we burn up.

    1. Carol, thanks so much for stopping by and your kind words. I’ve really gotten into collecting seeds this year. So far I’ve collected around 15 varieties. It’s kind of addicting once you get started. Have fun with it. I’m happy you enjoy the blog.

      1. I’ve collected seeds for years. I’ve been known to be out in public and see seeds I want, then I break them off when no one is looking. This year I’m going to throw an assorted bag of seeds out around my bee houses. I can’t wait to see what comes up, I’m going to be sure to have blooms all year long.

        1. Hi Tara – thanks for stopping by Gingham Gardens. Your idea to toss a bag of your collected seeds sounds like fun. I’ll bet the result is beautiful and your bees will love it! Stop back soon! Happy gardening, Joanna

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