I'm brand spankin' new at trying to collect and save seeds for next year. I'm am particularly confused on when and how to collect zinnia seeds. Does it have to be done before frost hits?
I'm also curious about collecting the blue globe thistle seeds. Do you have to wait for the pods to pop while on the stem or can they be picked now and dry on their own?
ZG I've never collected the globe thistle, but zinnias are a snap. You can collect them anytime as long as the seed heads have turned brown from maturity, not from death. LOL. In other words it's OK to wait until after a frost to collect them as long it's not the frost that turned them brown. (I think I just turned something very simple into something very confusing.)
I've been collecting mine for a few weeks now. Instead of dead-heading as soon as the blooms begin to fade I just leave them on the plant an extra week or 2 until they're good and brown and pinch them off then. Tell you what...I've got a plate of them sitting right here. I'll just snap a picture for you.
Here's what they should look like when they're mature.
When you crumble the seed head apart you'll get a mixture of chaff and seeds. The flat black/grey discs are the seeds and the rest can be discarded. You'll probably find many seeds in one seed head so you won't need to save many (until you become an addict like the rest of us and save them just to be saving them... even long after you have more than you'll ever need.)
Oh and one other thing I should add. Make sure they're completely dry before bagging them up. I usually let them sit on a plate or newspaper for at least a week after picking them to ensure dryness. There's nothing sadder than a bag full of moldy seeds.
Thank you so much for the information! I haven't been on Dave's Garden for a little bit so I apologize for not thanking you sooner. I am going to go out and see what I can find and get them drying. I am always nervous about doing my own seeds because I rely on them to grow big and beautiful every year because I sell cut flowers. The expense of buying new seeds every year though is outrageous! I spend a good $200 from Johnny's Selected Seeds and they are great performers but am looking for ways to be more thrifty (who isn't, right?)
The information and pictures you provided is wonderful. Thank you again. I'm going out right now to see what I can find!
All seed collection is about the same.Let the seed pod turn brown,pick it,dry and store.The only way I've been able to get blue thistle to grow is by wintersowing.Visit the wintersowing forum.Try it once,you will be hooked.Start saving those jugs now.Edge
Ok so the ones in the center are the seeds not the ones at the end of the petals??? These are profussion zinnias... I think I have been saving the wrong part. I have been saving the ones at the end of the petals.
You are most welcome, glad I could help. Trust me you needn't be nervous, zinnias are a piece of cake. The cherry zinnias in the picture below are just a fraction of what I grew from saved seed this year.
There are so many seeds in a seed head that you can be choosy about which ones you save too. I usually keep the fattest, plumpest seeds and toss the rest. If they're really light-weight and fly-away I tend to think they're not as viable.
Zinniagirl, if you've been growing hybrid zinnias, they won't come "true" from saved seeds... you'll get zinnias, and they'll probably be pretty enough, but they may not look just like the parents. I'm mentioning this mostly because you said you were purchasing expensive seeds, which made me think, "hybrid."
OK, I'm about to go crazy[er] separating my zinnia seeds from the chaff.
Has anyone found a way to do this that is not mind-numbingly tedious?
I want these seeds not just to plant myself but for trading & gifts.
Thank you Karen and I have to agree...the Cherry (and the Coral Pink) do fade much quicker than the orange and Apricot.
Critter the only zinnias from which I've collected seed are the Profusion series and Purple Prince. They may not be exactly the same as their parent plant, but the differences are too slight to be discerned with this naked eye. LOL
Potagere in a nutshell, no. There are some tricks that can make the job a little easier, but if you really want them clean it IS tedius work.
One thing you can do is crumble the heads in a bag and shake, shake, shake. The heavy stuff (hopefully the seeds) will drop to the bottom of the bag and you can scoop those out and at least have a smaller starting pile. You can then take a handful, spread a thin layer out on a cookie sheet, tray, newspaper, etc. and carefully blow very lightly on the contents. The lighter weight chaff will scatter where the heavier seed should more or less remain in place.
What you have left pretty much has to be picked through by hand. Sometimes I can lose a little more of the chaff by using 2 pieces of paper and transferring the seeds/chaff back and forth between the 2. (Again, the heavier seeds will drop and the chaff will cling to the paper.) To remove very fine chaff I put the seeds in a small strainer where the powdery stuff will fall through and the seeds will not.
Yes, seeds collections are tedious work. I do it while watching TV at night. I just them on a paper plate and then brush out the chaff to one side and seeds on the other. Sometime I use a plastic knife to sort them. I just harvested an envelope full of lavender Rose of Sharon. There are tons of seeds on the tree still, but I don't think I'm going to harvest anymore.
I have great appreciation for all those people that gave me seeds at the beginning of the year!
With zinnia seeds, I get out whatever chaff is easy to remove and leave the rest. I let people know it'll be a mix of chaff and seed, and I make sure there's a generous amount of seed in the packet. I often direct-sow zinnias, so the chaff helps me see where I've scattered my seeds. If I want to start a few plants in cell packs, it's not a big deal to pick a dozen seeds out from among the chaff.
You know, I do mostly vegetable gardening, and I long ago discovered something that has been confirmed by Carol Deppe [Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties] and agronomists at the University of Idaho:
Some seed companies have marketed OP varieties of tomatoes as "F1 hybrids". Why? Well, there is, as yet, no "Truth-in-labeling" for seeds AND labeling a variety as a hybrid discourages seed saving and encourages new seed purchases at high prices.
I wonder if the same might apply to some "hybrid" flowers?
Getting rid of zinna chaff...I went to a hardware store and purchased several sizes of window
screening to filter the zinnia seeds through. They cut me a 12 inch square off their rolls of
screening in three different sizes I wanted to try with the zinna seeds. This has worked for me
over the years.
Harvesting zinnia seeds...I harvest the seeds by color and size. I have harvested these just as
soon as the flowerheads start looking brown and with enough color left for identification. These
seedheads are then dried for a couple of weeks in the sun. I never let them get damp.
I trim the seedheads of the flowerpetals with scissors prior to taking the seeds out. Germination
rate has been great with this method.
They have great prices on larger quantities of seed. I got individual colors of large, cutting zinnias from them last year, and still have plenty of seed for next year. I was very impressed with the percentage of large, fully doubled blooms too.
Wow, I'm surprised that window screen would remove the chaff. Most of my zinnia seeds are way too big to fit through a window screen, as is the chaff. Do you screen the chaff from the seeds, or vice versa? In other words, which falls thruough the screen, and which doesn't?
I use several sizes of colanders to remove chaff from many seeds, but I've not come up with anything that works well for zinnias. For those, I just plant seeds with a lot of chaff.
I have found that the easiest way to get rid of chaff is by gently blowing. I put the chaff in a small plastic bowl and lightly shake it while gently blowing. The seed is heavier than the chaff and stays at the bottom. The key is gently blowing - if you blow too hard then everything will blow out of the bowl.
Take it from a guy who does all the cooking and home stuff:
The DR table is AT LEAST for 1 meal a week ( I try to do both Sat & Sun) if for nothing more than to show your partner (or even yourself, if you are single) that she/he(you) is/are special.
Gramma always fed us on the round oak table in the dining room when us kids came to visit. It not only added to her 'mystique', it made us feel special; and I think that at least once a week we who tend the home fires need to let our "others" feel special.
Mon ami then where do you put all your drying seeds, and piles of gardening notes and your Book of Lists??? I need all the flat surfaces in the big thing in the middle of the garden for this tres important stuff.
ROFLMAO !! oh he'd love that... all of us coming for a nice home cooked meal to sit at a DR table.
I have to say... back to the Zinnias...
yesterday, being windy ... i took all my seed heads, about 10 big ones and put it all in one of those 5qt Ice Cream plastic buckets... and went out to sit at the picnic table. Just by 'sifting' thru and with the help of the wind... all the 'other stuff' was blown away, and possibly a few seeds... but oh well.
i have to admit, not much was left. I did see a lot of what looked like the seeds, but they were almost a transparent white .. so i'm guessing they were underdeveloped seeds.
Should they have been left on the plant longer, so the seeds could mature? There is still A LOT out there
My neighbor [bless her heart] came over with 2 paper bags of seed heads. The Orange Profusion Zinnias and a tons of marigolds -- like i need more marigolds... but 90 of 'em were still 'damp' even the colorful petals were still attached.
will these dry like they would out on the plants? again .. they are spread out on paper plates on the DR table.
I also gave a VERY large aquarium, and the top of that, which is heated by the lights, is a most excellent spot for drying seeds. Steam radiators, kept down low are also good. Top of the computer tower. My desk. The summer kitchen counters.
But, can't let anything interfere with cooking and eating!
gemini sage - thank you for the referral to swallowtail gardens and Pinetree Gardens. They are definitely cheaper than the place I buy them from. I will give them a try next spring. Here's where I've been buying my seeds: www.johnnyseeds.com
They are located in Maine so I feel good about supporting them.
The quality is excellent, however the price is a little steep. My seeds have been coming in a packet of 50 for $2.65 give or take a little.
I posted some pics on the cut flowers forum of the last cut of the season. :(
zinniagirl, I have leftover seed from this spring of individual colors, and still have more than I'll need for next spring if you'd like some. I'm sure I can spare at least a dozen seed from each color: Cherry Queen, Purity (white), Lavender Queen, Enchantress (pink), Royal Purple, Scarlet King, and Aztec Orange. They were all nice, full doubles, and all tall for cutting.
I would love them! Would you be interested in trading? I have some moon flower seeds I could send you. I haven't been a seed collector but am learning now. I will definitely start collecting seeds next year. I have lots of unusual native plants that I wish I would have collected the seeds from. I also have some bug bane seeds.
Sure, I'd love some Moonflower seeds! I had both the vining Ipomoea and Datura types growing this year, but the drought kept the vines from going to seed, and the Datura was in the way of the backhoe man just as the seeds were ripening. Hmmm...I think I would like to try the bugbane too. It grew wild at my old home in the woods, it would be nice to see it in the garden again.
Anita, with most of the hybrid zinnias they won't come true, or some may, but a percentage will usually vary- typically smaller blooms and fewer petals. I really like my big, fully double zinnias, so will probably continue to purchase seed. As an experiment I collected seeds from my Magellan zinnias this summer. I'm pretty sure the offspring won't be nearly as compact as the parents, but I'm curious what they'll do. I think some of the older varieties, like Thumbelina, come true, or at least I know people save seed from them. The little profusion zinnias come true from seed- I'd like to try more colors of those (I have Cherry), very forgiving little plants.
I had similar results. With my profusions the offspring were identical to the parents. Dreamland series (similar to Magellan) produced many different seedlings. The parents were beautiful coral color. Most offspring were the same color but one was the ugliest bright orange! The parents were about a foot tall, but babies ranged from one to four feet. Some were singles, some double.
Other than profusions, if there were a type I really wanted, I'd buy new commercial seeds.
I buy all seeds from Johnnys seed. The Va Tech Hort gardens buy their seeds from them and I've used them with great results. Go to the commercial side vs. the home gardener side and you can buy in bulk. I got purple giant zinnia in 1/4 pound size and had a huge patch of one color - stunning. Every seed you get from them will promise a great plant.
so -- if i understand this correctly, a Hybrid seed is an open pollinated seed [when folks use the OP]
and the Commercial Seeds, would then come true to color ?? and the OP is just wishful hoping on what you will get?
Hybrids are created deliberately by growers, often hand pollinating one plant with another to carry desirable traits to the new plant. They can also be formed by open pollinated plants within a garden.
Heirlooms, on the other hand, have been found stable through successive generations, bringing their traits along even when open pollinated. If you sow seeds from heirlooms you will most likely get offspring exactly like the parent.
At least, that's my understanding. But my understanding of plant genetics is very limited.
Hey gang - glad to see that I'm not the only one who was in her front yard peering at Zinnias and trying to figure out where in the heck the seeds were. Oh well - I got mine in a little late, so while they did bloom they weren't out long enough to set seeds. The Snaps, on the other hand...
nah, finally out of the garden - now we're doing the "Fall House Cleanup"; garage, windows, basement - the works :-) Once I get done updating my spreadsheets I'll finally be able to dump my Piggie List on the other thread. And it's too dang cold here - but still at least close to 32 and not into single digits.
I was just sortign thru all my zinnia packets, when i stumbled upon one that read "Jumbo Tetra" and when i peeked at the "seeds", i realized they are not the seeds, but i believe the outer 'shell' of the spent flower head...
I am correct, aren't I? [that they are not seeds?]
Basically, yes! They are both the seeds. If you look at them closely enough (like under a good magnifying glass like old guys like me use to to almost everything these days!) you'll see that they are really all the same!
How do you plant to sow them? How many are you expecting to sow? What germination rate do you need to get what you want? Answers to these questions will suggest what you do next (and what you can learn from it for next year).
Jim -- last year, Mar 2008, i attempted to sow them indoors. all but 1 died as seedlings.
I did Candy Cane and Green Envy. the ONE candy cane survived.
Around here, they best is just to direct sow. If they sprout tll early, a late frost will kill them.
Maybe i'll do a few as WS and some Direct, as i do have A LOT of seeds now.
but either way... i will not do them in doors ... i dont have much room, only a southern window in my DR [dining room] *wink*
just glad i did not dump that baggie that i thought was junk.
My neighbor is a zinnia nut ... she just scatters seeds in all the beds... so between the two of us... there are hundreds of plants.
Neal -- thanks for the info. I would have thought they would all be similar.
Uggg, i can't believe how many seeds i actually threw away thinking they were junk.
Well, actually, I was thinking that if you were only going to sow a few, you could do some comparative germination testing during the winter.
Sounds to me like you had "damping off", which has nothing to do with the seed but with the growing conditions.
I've had differing results with "open-seeding" of zinnias. Down my old dog's memorial garden, her zinnias reseed freely; but they often do not germinate until so late that, this year, the blooms came at the same time as the frost. In other cases, broadcast seeds don't germinate at all or are eaten by birds.
Other broadcast seeds produce so thickly that they "drown" one another out.
I basically have abandoned the broadcast sowing of zinnias that my grandmother relied upon. For the last couple of years, I've done the "indoors-under-lights" sowing that I have done with my tender veggies. That has worked well, and been far cheaper than buying them as bedding plants!
This year, I will try some WS, some broadcast Spring planting (because I have LOTS of seed this year) and some indoor sowing and see how it all goes and compares.
I always throw my old seed in the compost bin. Amazing how many transplants I get from there!
aside from the broadcasting of seeds... she did sow seeds in a pot... not necessarily WS, but in the spring, she sprinkled a bunch of seeds in a rectangular pot ... which she then transplanted into the flower beds. All the Zinnias bloomed at the same time.
I do recall my 1[indoor sown] Candy Cane bloomed before all the others.
I will try to keep better tack of the germination of my seeds this year... every year, i try to do better. I had kept good track of some data, but lost it this June when i had some PC troubles.
Unless you are doing hybridization or have other essential reasons for charting dates/temps, etc., I have become convinced by nearly 6 decades of gardening that such journalization is useless.
I can say that in 199X I transplanted Veg Q on 5 May, when temps were 65 high and 48 low; and, so what?
Is that a guide to transplant Veg Q on 5 May in 200X? Or to transplant when temps are between 65 and 48? Or what?
With zinnias, we are thinking in terms of WIDE ranges of germination, flowering, etc.!
As a gardener, you will have a feel for what worked last year; and you will repeat it this year.
No, I was just thinking like this:
If you are not sure whether to use one "shape" of seed or the other, you could do a simple germination test to see if there were any difference between the shapes and then sow accordingly, Easier if you only plan to sow a few seeds. On the other hand, if you want a big zinnia bed, you might want to broadcast and WS as backup (I think that some WSers overestimate the "disruptive" effects of wind, precipitation, birds and other "predators". I have "winter-sown" onions for years, and any gaps in my "lines" can also easily be credited to normal "failure to germinate".)
In fact, at the moment, I am approaching WS as a backup to "broadcast" and a possible alternative to indoor sowing under lights.
This is one case where I will maintain a journal, just to be sure I have treated all alternatives fairly and that I know why I am doing what I am doing in later years (one of the scariest things about aging is finding yourself repeating last year's failures!)
>>(one of the scariest things about aging is finding yourself repeating last year's failures!)
LOL -- Jim -- thanks for that observation.
that is also something i'm trying to keep from happening.
and i dont chart temps... just dates. I was going to use this info for the WS database here on Daves.
I track dates sown and dates germinated... like last year, i noticed it took MONTHS for columbine to germinate, where other things were weeks, once it was warming up... so i will know that if i do columbine again...not to expect seedlings until June or July.
I dont have much of a scientific approach to sowing.
I do my zinnias in jugs, just like all the others, I just wait until about April to start them. By then the weather is fairly warm and they usually germinate in a few days. I do them just like WSown, maybe add a few extra vent holes. I just wait until spring to avoid those late frosts. If a frost should occur, I close up the jug, and, if temps are really low, I might throw a sheet over them too. This has worked pretty well for me.
You know, the more I hear from Karen and other "winter sowers" the less I think there is much difference between this approach and that of us "traditionalists" who have broadcast seeds outdoors or used a coldframe in winter and seeded under glass and/or lights in Spring.
It seems that you plan/time your plantings/sowings about the same as we do.
But, I mostly do veg.
Flowers are likely another trip entirely.
But maybe not!
I was going to start after Thanksgiving for a few seeds, some Columbine and Joe Pye Weed
everything else will not get started until Jan or Early Feb. with the tender ones, like Karen mentioned... not until April.
checking my notes from last year... the Columbine was sown on 3/19/2008 and i did not have a germination date ... but it was into the summer. [i was gone most of the summer... I came home one day, and there were seedlings.] Had to have been end of June, early July.
I think the timing is very similar between winter sowing in vented containers and sowing in cold frames or direct sowing in winter... but the containers give you that mini greenhouse environment to protect the seeds/seedlings, and unlike a cold frame the containers are self-watering (mostly, anyway... in spring when it gets warmer, we don't always get enough rain & have to occasionally water the WS containers to keep the seedlings happy).
I've done my columbines in winter. I wintersow all perennials and hardy annuals like poppies or bachelor buttons, larkspur then. I've had them germinate very early, like the first of march, and subsequent frost doesn't bother them a bit. It's only the real tender things, like zinnias, that I hold back until spring.
Here's some WSown zinnias just starting to bloom in June.
While I've only done WS for one year, one thing I really like is being able to move the plants quite easily - I try to keep the number of containers I have to as small an amount as possible - under 35 - so that I can move them if needed. Watering is easier too - but if there's some seed that I know will germinate well (requires a bit of study) then I go ahead and sow it insitu, as it were.
I do use the Journal in DG for tracking seeds I start, so I can easily recall what worked when, and what didn't. Otherwise, the only thing I track in a paper journal are things specific to the yard, so I'll have a record of work, etc. My own spreadsheets are ridiculous...
I don't have a note in the DG Journal that I started Zinnias, yet I know I did, which means they were part of the "last round" which was in very early April. They went out into the yard as soon as they were ready, but still didn't have enough time to set seed. This coming year I plan to just do some broadcast sowing and see what I get :)
When you look at the "tail end" of both types of seeds, you can see on some the base of the petal that didn't quite break off - that's what I use to ID those puppies when I do get some seed to sort.
This has been so helpful! Thanks so much everyone!
I have giant purple zinnias that looked deep purple on the seed pack but are more lilac/pink. Love them anyway...they also seem to re-seed themselves a bit. I have new seedlings everywhere.
I will throw out one more thing regarding the 2 different shapes of seeds. If I understand correctly they are ray seeds and disc seeds. Here's an article that explains it. http://www.backyardnature.net/fl_comps.htm
Folks this thread has been most informative for me. Booplants, we must have bought the same brand zinnia seeds. Did you get yours from Crosman seeds? I bought the Dream Giant dahlia flowered and that one has yet to bloom. Ferry-Morse seeds had a beautiful dark purple one called Violet queen that has yet to bloom. I just looked at my handwritten record keeping of the flowers I wintersowed and I must have got tired of writing them down as I have no zinnias listed at all, but came across the empty seed packets mentioned above. Can't find the one that you picture but I have same one. Do you find that the birds are picking off the petals? I really am looking forward to seeing the other two colors bloom. The one that you pictured is a real tall one, how about yours? It really needed to be planted in the back of the border but when it came time to plant them, I was so overwhelmed, I didn't pay attention to hgt. or color, I just planted where there was blank space of soil available!
I will wintersow less this year and pay more close attention to the height dtetails. (Famous last words?)
I bought one plant of purlane(yellow)but planted it in the border. It seems to be in the succulent family? I'd never heard of it before, thought it was pretty but they do look better planted in a your containers. Maybe I should transplant mine to a container pot. I have it planted so it kind of creeping close or over the scallopped edging bricks, next to creeping yellow sedum that my daughter gave me. Just made myself a note to dig it up and plant into a container pot today, sort of 6-8 in. size? I don't think it needs a lot of water.
If window screening is too fine for seeds you save, MSCdirect.com sells hundreds of varieties of wire cloth for $4-$8 per 12" square. There is wire cloth with openings from 1" down to 0.0037".
I think the best bet should be "Stainless Steel Bolting Cloth" , but "Galvanized Steel After-Weaving wire cloth" also looks good, especially for coarser mesh sizes. The plain steel wire cloth on page 1808 is cheap but rusts VERY easily and I don't recommend it. Brass is classy but expensive.
Great information! I've been looking in vain for red and white Candy Cane seeds, but all the places I've checked offer a mix, rather than only red and white. If anybody has a suggestion, would be happy to know. Also, if I collect seeds from the two red and white flowers I have, will they come true?
Last year I kept dead-heading until near the end of the season, then took Zinnia seed heads that had survived, even though the rainy season had started by then. I practically had to wring water out of each head before starting to dry them, and most were squishy-moldy and only good for compost.
Is it practical to stop dead-heading a few plants right now? Leave the blooms on a few good plants right now (while they are still growing vigorously, but rain is infrequent)?
I don't mind if the plants I stop deadheading "go to seed" and I have to pull them out after getting several heads each.
Or does the whole plant have to decide to die at the end of the year, to produce viable seeds?
The Zinnia seeds I saved from last year did well this year, even though last year was a mess of mongrel hybridization from several different inter-mixed packets. It will be interesting to see what the F3 generation looks like!
Okay, I know this is an old thread, but some of you posters are still active. So I have a question about zinnia seed saving?
If you plant a plot of zinnias that are OP but a mix of colors, will the saved seeds be a repeat mix of the same colors, or will the colors be "muddied" from cross pollination? I am thinking of Benary Giants mixed, which I believe is OP.
The pick is from last year's garden. I thought it was Benary Giant Pink, but after I looked at the enlargement of the thumbnail I think it's Double Click. Just wanted to "decorate my page."
There are OP mixes ("State Fair" and others) that can be grown year after year from seeds harvested the previous year, and although they probably do cross, I don't think "muddy" colors result. I think Bernary Giants are hybrids, aren't they? So I don't know if they come quite "true"... guessing colors wouldn't be muddy anyway, but maybe flowers could be a little different, not quite as double or not quite as big? On the other hand, the Profusion series (which I think are also hybrids) are supposed to come as close to true as makes no difference.. I'll see about them this year, as I have several trade packs of F2 seeds.
Thanks for your responses. I have to confess that my purpose is to save the seeds and sell them on eBay, so they have to be true. I purchase bulk packets of commercial seeds, split them and offer them on eBay. It's just a sideline hobby business; I probably don't even make any profit. (DH is retired and wants me to stay home, too, so I want to do SOMETHING!)
Many of the other eBayers produce their own seed, so I thought I would try that with something easy...like marigolds and zinnias. I'm considering planting a back yard full of ONE color.
It seems that Benary's Giant is an heirloom after all...
I just learned (from youTube!) how to pick the little arrowhead seeds out of the zinnia cone (is that the term?) I went out to our garden and picked a few cones from the dead-but-not-cleared zinnia plants. Will plant them just for fun to see if they grow.
After participating for the first time in the Hog swap (thanks Terese) I noticed that most of the contributions were gathered from people's own gardens. So I decided to investigate how to do that with the easiest seeds. This summer I will try to summon the fortitude to ferment tomato seeds. (I know you do that, Jill...I already wintersowed Limbaugh's Potato Top.)
Sorry, I should have looked the Bernarys up before responding! Why not offer them as a mix? Or do individual colors just sell lots better? I really don't think you're going to get a bunch of muddy colors, although of course the most certain course might be to grow them out at least one year to see what happens.
I've split packs a couple of times and sold some extras on Marketplace -- basically, enough to pay for the bigger packet and give me some "free" packs then to share with friends. When Joyanna gets old enough to be more of a help than not, LOL, we may do a little more of that sort of thing.
wanted to add... this isn't zinnias, but the way you mentioned cleaning the seeds reminded me... those newer fancy-colored coneflowers are mostly hybrids (mostly patented, also), and from what I've read their seeds usually grow out as "regular" purple coneflowers.
I've been saving and sowing a variety of Zinnias for a few years. As far as I can tell, even things like giants and Lilliput cross-pollinate.
I get some clear colors and some blurs, with purple/red/lavender being the blurriest. A few orange or yellow plants came out with clear colors.
I also got some variety of forms, but what mainly happened was that unusual forms like big double ginats and tiny bal--shaped Lilliput disapeared. Int he second and third year, I got mostly undistinguished shapes a little like daisies and medium-sized blooms predominated.
I had started selecting plants for TENDING to conserve certain colors, when I realized (or Zen_Man reminded me) that I could get much faster results by selecting one or another seed packet from a catalog, than by spending years and lots of garden space growing slowly towards what I did wnat. I don;t have any spare garden space!
ROFL! Yes, sometimes it's easier just to buy the seeds. A friend of mine has been growing "State Fair Mix" (pretty sure that's what she started with) for years and years, just by crushing and scattering the seedheads each year. So I think there are some OP mixes that are pretty stable.
Thanks for sharing your experience, especially with the big doubles and the Lilliputs!
My guess is that some traits and colors are dominant, and they come through clearly.
I noticed with Petunias from many different sources that white often came back very clear, but blue-red-pink-purple tended to run together.
Maybe I shouldn't say that "white stayed white", since many of the light blues, pinks and lavenders were undoubtedly a mix of white and some dark color. But "white" just looked very distinct from all those pale colors.
I looked it up, and these were some of the zinnia sources that went into my mongrel blend:
Zinnia California Giant Mix Zinnia elegans (these disapeared and were totally diluted in the next generation)
(I guess that extra-large and dramatic forms are only expressed when genetically pure. But, in the next 2 years, some somewhat odd-looking things did pop up.)
Zinnia Cut & Come Again Zinnia elegans pumila dome shape double pumila type
(The "little ball" blooms disapeared and most blooms were flat and, I guess, "single".)
Makes sense when you look at the higher price for some of the big hybrids... some of it's just name-marketing, I think, but those big dahlia-looking ones are worth paying for. I'm going to sow a whole lot of different zinnias (mostly saved seeds from various sources) around our mini-orchard, but I'm also going to sow some "special" (named/hybrids) ones in winter sowing jugs. :-)
I guess ebay buyers might care, but the butterflies like pretty much any size/color/form of zinnia! LOL
>> I guess ebay buyers might care, but the butterflies like pretty much any size/color/form of zinnia! LOL
I agree: names and ancestry matters more when selling or trqading, or if you are a breeder like Zen_Man. I became fond of the "double" form, or "spherical" blooms, maybe just beucase that was one of the earliest cutflowers I succeeded in producing.
What I like best about Zinnias is that they look cheerful, the plant is sturdy, and produces lots of blooms for a long time. And they last long in a vase.
I've never had geraniums, but Salvias and Celosias are easy... celosias - the little seeds, looks like poppy seeds - small and round, either brownish or reddish... they just shake out of the spent fluffy foliage.
salvias, the spent blooms form a 'cup like seed holder' so to speak... each cup like dried 'holder' [i dont know the proper terms] will hold about 4 seeds in each. I either grab the stems from the bottom and gently pull upwards pulling the cup like things off, and put them in a jar or coffee can... with Salvias, the timing needs to be just right... once dry, the seeds will fall out on their own, if not dry they may still be white-ish and not fully ready -- I think they need to be brownish or black to be fully dry ... could mold if not fully dry -- at least, that is my experience with them.
One way to catch Salvia seeds while waiting for them to be fully mature is to "bag" a spike. You can use the bottom part of panty hose or nylons, or buy "organza bags" big enough to hold a bottle of wine.
Slip the bag or nylon over the flower spike well before the seeds fall out. Secure the bottom as tightly as possible without bruising the stem: organza nags have drawstrings. Nylons need string or ribbon to hold the bottom tightly closed so seeds don't fall out.
Then you can shake the flower spikes and see whether the seeds are mature enoguh to rattle, or mature enouigh that they already fell out of their pods and are trying to sneak out of the nec k of the bag.
My Salvia only had one small seed per bloom. NOT many per plant!
(Or park newspapers or paper plates under the plant, hoping to catch a few when they fall)
BTW, Delphiniums were very well-behaved seed bearers. The spent bloom formed a stiff upright cup, and the seeds stayed IN the cup until they were fully mature. Then I just had to cut or gently TIP the stem over, and they poured out of their cups, 100% clean.
I don't know abiout gardenias, but here is my rule for zinnias and marigolds: good luck finding mature seeds (dead, dry, brown flowerheads) before the fall rains make them rot!
With petunias I had better luck: the pods formed and turned dry and brown before fall rains got bad. Maybe being root-bound in small planters encouraged them to go to seed. The petunia pods held together strongly enough that I could harvest them whole, while the seeds seemed mature enough.
With my Italian leaf broccoli that over-wintered and THEN bloomed and went to seed, most of the pods held together very well. They got to sit out in pretty dry summer sun for months.
After most turned brown or gray, and then some turned yellow, I harvested just a few yellow pods and germinated seeds on coffee filters to see if they were viable yet. 50% sprouted in 3-4 days, and ~90% sprouted within 6 days. That was plenty mature for me, so I harvested every pod that looked light brown or yellow, and collected around 4 ounces of seeds already!
I left some gray-green or dark brown pods on the plants to see if they would get lighter in color.
In general, I want the pods or flower heads to look as dead and dry as possible.
If no pods at all have split and dumped their seeds, I twist one pod open to see if the seeds are green, white or black.
If black, are they hard?
If black and hard, will they germinate?
(Seeds that need stratification, I have no way of guessing ripeness.)