If you like the flowers in your yard but don’t like the idea of spending money on new ones, why not save their seeds to sprout the following year?
To improve the possibility that young plants will develop true to their parent, only collect seeds from heirloom or heritage plants. Hybrid cultivar seeds, which are produced when two or more cultivars are crossed, are completely unpredictable. Only plants that closely resemble one of the parents will be produced.
However, there are no assurances. When pollen is accidentally transferred across kinds by wind or insects, hybridization can happen in your garden. Plant just one type of the plant from which you intend to gather seeds to help prevent this.
Experiment if you don’t mind surprises; you might come up with a lovely new plant.
The key to successful gardening is time. It’s ideal to gather seeds on a day that is dry and sunny. And regardless of the type of seeds you are collecting, leave them to develop and finish drying on the plant. They might not grow if that happens. But if you wait too long, you can lose out.
After gathering and removing non-seed components like petals and husks, spread the seeds out in a single layer on a screen or piece of newspaper, and leave them to dry for about a week.
After that, store them in a cool, dry area by placing them in a paper envelope or sealed glass jar (I did the latter). As long as seeds can be kept away from fruit, which emits ethylene gas that can hinder their germination, a refrigerator is excellent. For the first day or two of storage, adding a silica gel pack will aid in preventing the growth of mold.
No matter how certain you are that you’ll remember what they are in the spring, label your envelopes or jars.
When maintained appropriately, collected seeds can be kept alive for several years, but their total germination rate will decrease. Plant gathered seeds the next year for the best results.
Don’t forget to leave some seedheads standing so that birds will have food for the winter. The next year, they’ll provide free pest management for your garden as a reward.
More information about gathering seeds from various plant types:
While many plants naturally scatter their dry seeds, some, like Texas bluebonnets, California poppies, cleome, and impatiens, generate ripe pods that burst open and spit seeds up to 20 feet out. Since it’s difficult to predict when that will occur, you’ll need to keep a close check on the pods and harvest them as soon as they appear to be about to split. Be cautious since many species of pods will explode open at the slightest provocation, and if that happens, good luck finding the scattered seeds.
Instead, once the pod is almost fully developed, cover it with a little paper bag or specialized mesh seed-collection bag. The bag will have the seeds in it if the explosion occurs with your back turned.
There are other plants that produce thorny seed heads, such as Mexican sunflowers and coneflowers. Cut the ripe head off completely to avoid biting your fingers, place it in a paper bag, and shake to separate the seeds.
Daisy-like flowers like sunflowers, coneflowers, and, well, daisies have generally low germination rates for their seeds. Choose the most robust for planting or sow more seeds for safety.
On the deepest region of their densely clustered petals, some flowers, like marigolds, generate seeds that are affixed to rod-like structures. Remove all of the dried-out petals to reveal the rods, then crack open the seed head to let them out. After that, dry, store, and plant the complete building.