Guest Post by Regina
Sunshine!! Oh THANK-YOU God!! I feel like a bear coming out of his hibernation into the glorious warmth and happiness of the sun. I WANTED to be outside, I HAD to be outside, I NEEDED to be outside, and so outside I went! I started to work amongst my flowers and realized this would be the perfect day to do something I needed to get done before the first frost. I would collect seeds from my flowers for the next year. This is a job I love, to look deep amongst my flowers and find those fat and full seed pods that would supply me with bright, cheerful flowers next year. I gathered my Ziploc sandwich bags and a marker and started my treasure hunt.
This is a seed pod for petunias. You need to look for a pod with the flower petals gone and the pod needs to have turned brown. Some pods are still green and the seeds will not be dry enough in those. This one was just perfect!
I snapped the stem, and pulled off the remaining leaves.
I then place it inside my Ziploc bag and gently squeezed it open. The pod can be tight and sometimes I need to use my fingernails to gently pry the pod open. Some pods will already have cracked open and the seeds gone, or some pods may still have a few remaining seeds that haven’t yet spilled out. I was delighted to find this pod still tightly closed. All the seeds inside were mine! These seeds are VERY tiny, so be careful! One pod has lots of seeds inside.
Make sure to mark the bag what flower seeds you have and what color. I have found with some petunias being hybrids, not all the seeds I saved would be the same color when they bloomed the next summer. Most of the times, they are. But I have had a few go back to white or sometimes they will be white with the hybrid color stripped through the white, making a very pretty petunia.
Next was my impatiens. These pods when they are ready to pick, are a shiny, fat, green pod.
Now comes the fun! These little guys are a blast to pop! I enjoy popping them just for the fun of watching them! My three year old was helping me hunt for the pods and she had so much fun popping these little guys open. They are spring loaded, so watch out! The fattest, really ripe pods, when I barely touched them, literally gave a “pop“, and all the little seeds came spraying out! Make sure you put the pod in your bag before you pop them so you do not loose any seeds. Here is what the pod looks like after it is popped.
Don’t sneeze! Or those tiny seeds will blow away! Mark your bag with the color and the name of your flower!
Zinnia seeds are very easy to collect. Find a brown dried flower head of the color you want to save.
Now gently tear off the top dead petals.
Underneath these petals are the brown seeds. These seeds are nice and large! You don’t need to worry about sneezing these away!
Save marigold seeds exactly the same way. Marigold and zinnia seeds are one of the easiest to save and start again next year. I like to sow my zinnias in a row in my garden and like a variety of colors, so I make sure I save at least on or two heads of all the different colors and mix them together in my bag.
I also grow a lot of red salvia. I can’t always find the large 16 - 20 in. plants, so I usually start my own. Look for stems on your salvia plant that has flowers that turned mostly brown.
Do you see those black spots deep in the bottom of the brown flowers?
That is your seeds you want to collect.
Some of the seeds will have already dropped out of the flower, others will be nicely full. There is usually only around 3-5 seeds per flower. I pick a whole stem that is brown, put it in my bag and run my fingers along the stem, scrapping the flowers off into the bag. Then you can tear each individual one open and drop out the seeds or sometimes by gently shaking the bag, the seeds will work their way out of the flowers.
These seeds look larger than they actually are. Once again, make sure you mark your bag along with the height of the plants. I save seeds from two different heights of plants. Next year you don’t want a 16” plant where you wanted an 8”!
Hopefully this will give you an idea of how to collect seeds from your plants! These are some of the main flower seeds I collect for the next year, but if you have other flowers, look at them closely and you should be able to find a pod or seeds that you can save.
Now you need to dry your seeds so they do not become moldy or sprout before you plant them! Open the bags, roll down the tops so the tops are nice and wide open. Let them sit in a cool, dry place until the seeds feel nice and dry and should be mostly brown. Maybe gently stir or shake them around several times so they can all dry. This can take up to several days. When they are all dry, reseal your bags and store them where its dark and cool.
Another way to dry your seeds and probably the best way, is to spread them out on a small plate. Let them air dry for several days, and then place back into your bags. The drawback is when I have a lot of bags with seeds, this is a lot more work and it is easier to get my seeds mixed up or spilled!
Presto! You are done! You have just saved yourself several dollars worth plus shipping and handling! Now come January and February when the snow flies and the winds howl, you don’t have to wait for the seed catalog to come in the mail. You can get out your petunia and impatient seeds, and have fun starting them in your flats! It will bring cozy memories of that sunny, warm, blue sky day when you collected your seeds, and it will bring more cheerful memories of those spring days to come filled with bluebirds and tender new growth of life!
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