Collecting seeds

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

Since i'm new to this, i went to the wintersown site and read up on it

question though...

my neighbor will just pluck off the flower head and hand it to me for the seeds. she also did this last year with marigolds, and i found they all molded on me.

the ones she gave me this year, i put in plastic deli containers to dry

what is the best route for saving seeds?

and should i just tell her to leave them be until they are browned?



Conneaut, OH(Zone 5a)

Seeds have to be dried out before you store them.I use a window screen lined with newspaper.The screen is suspended with one gallon paint cans.I set this up in the basement in front of the dehumidifier.Stir the pods every few days.Generally in about two weeks the seeds are totally dried out.Then I put the pods in labeled zip lock bags.Sometime in the dead of winter,I separate the seeds from the pods.This method has worked for me for years.

Long Island, NY(Zone 6b)

I wait until the seed head is brown before collecting - then I separate the seed from the pod and put them in plastic dishes for ~2 weeks before I transfer them to little plastic bags for storage.

Whenever I am unsure what the seed looks like - I google it or I go to The Seed Site

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

Thanks -- for my own seeds... i am trying to wait until the pod is brown.
some, like the marigolds she gave me, i've put into a clear 1# deli container wit no lid to let them dry.

but all the seeds i've collected, i do believe are dry, but they are also going into those containers.

I;ve got my eye on a gorgeous red zinnia... i hope she doesn't pluck off all of the flower tops before they dry.....

thanks for the site... i've been there before, but not bookmarked it yet. [til now].

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

Lots of good ideas on how to collect really neat seeds on this DG forum, too.

I'm having a lot of fun collecting seeds this fall and learning a lot too. Before wintersowing and reading the Seed Collecting forum I never had a clue how!

I'm trying to get photos of some of my wildflower seeds to add to Plant Files. The "seed site" has lots of good seed pics and info, too. I love that site.

Can't wait to start wintersowing again!

Long Island, NY(Zone 6b)

I went to a local public garden and collected some seed from this plant. I only got a few, so I'm hoping I'll have luck with it. It wasn't labeled, but I think it is Agastache.

Thumbnail by Anitabryk2
Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

Terese, I had some bad, bad luck using deli containers this year, but I think I've solved it by using a newspaper liner. My deli containters were about 4" tall, and I think that was just too tall.. If you're using the short, flat ones, they shoud be okay, but I highly recommend a paper liner. I mostly use a shoebox with cone coffee filters filed in it. I write the name of the seed on the filter and hope to use the same ones again next year.

I wanted to talk about marigolds....I noticed something weird lately (lately meaning the last couple of years) with the new varieites I am buying. The petals of the flower weld together and prevent the seed pod from opening and make the seed rot inside. To combat this, I have been taking a pair of scissors to them to cut the tip off and it seems to be working. I have figured out I am safe to cut all the way back to the green pod. Now, I have noticed a lot of commercial marigold seed is "detailed" -- as in they take the straw colored tail off. I am wondering if the commercial people are having trouble with their seed pods not opening up, too.

On the Zinnias, show her how to pull a petal off (as in "He loves me, he loves me not" fashion.) If the seed on the end of the petal is dry and dark, the seed is ready. If you get a petal with no seed, it isn't even close to being ready. You can also pull the flower straight out from the stem and if it releases from the plant easily, with a little pop, it's ripe, but I like to pull a petal better because I have loose soil and sometimes can pull the plant out of the ground. If you get closer to frost and the flower isn't ripe, I believe you can still harvest it, keep it in a vase of water and let them continue ripening. They have to be at a certain point before this will work -- the seed has to be thick and heavy, but it can still be "blonde".

Anita, that plant is goegeous!!!


Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

Suzy -- thanks for the tip on the coffee filters. I have boxes of the cone ones [bought them at Sams in bulk] then we got a new pot that has the more of a basket filter.

I'll go out and check her zinnias... some of the flowers are dying back, but many are still full of color.

I have various marigolds, and can't recall the petals getting stuck. All the plants i have, have come from seed given to me by my neighbor.... and she gets them from various places....

OH question on marigolds.... she [my neighbor] was telling me one day that her mother asked her where she got such gorgeous marigolds... where she told her mom, that she got the seeds from her [her mother] even though her mom had never seen those colors before.

my question -- the seeds from a particular plant does not always produce the exact same flowers the next year, correct? I mentioned to Senia [my neighbor] that most likely due to being pollinated by bees, et al .... that there would be cross-pollinizing going on, so they'd probably never be the same.

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

Right you are. And marigolds cross pollinate very easily, unlike some flowers. I am only growing red marigolds this year. Three different kinds. I figure if they cross, then at least the progeny will be red. :)


Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

oh how i'd love red marigolds.

i've got a few that are a 'sort of' burgandy-ish red and yellow mix. those are really pretty... and of course Senia is snatching up the dried buds hoping to get the same next year. but between the tow of us, we have a lot of varieties of them. some very small, and some quite tall and bushy. guess ya just never know what youre gonna get. [sorta like a box of chocolates]

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

Yes, they are that burgundy-ish color, but they're solid burgundy-ish, so if they cross pollinate, I should still have burgundy ones. (?) I hope.

Assuming I harvest some, I'll send them to you if you want..


Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

that would be awesome. thanks.

i should go out and snap an image of the lil one i have.

just found it today when Senia and I were clearing brush and weeds out back.

Minneapolis, MN(Zone 4b)

I think it is best to collect them after they are dry. To be safe I like to keep them in little envelopes of waxed paper that I make. The waxed paper breaths enough to keep them from molding. I keep a few in my car along with a marker to label them. That way if I find seeds I want when I am out and about I have the envelopes there with me.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

i too need to start carrying envelopes with me for when i see seed pods.

can't recall which thread - it may have been in the WS forum... but i've switched my seed containers from the #1 deli plastic buckets to coffee filters... at least those breathe.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)


this is one that just jumps right out at me when I'm back there... looks like live velvet.

i'd love to have a huge row of these.. but knowing the seeds wont give me the same plant.... *sigh*

but this is as red as i can get... with a trim.

Thumbnail by tcs1366
Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

In a way, that is redder than what I have, which is a single, so there is a pillow of stamens in the center which are yellow.


Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

tsc1366 - love that marigold!

Have to share one of my WS marigolds with you, I think you'll like the color.

Came from a seed packet called Disco Mix. I collected seed from the plants this fall; wonder what they'll end up producing next year.


Thumbnail by Grow_Jo
Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

Oh, wow! That's fantastic! I grew 'Mars' and also 'Cottage Red' this year. They both are similar to your photo in terms of shape and size, but they aren't as red, despite their names.


Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)


That marigold is awesome!! may have to keep an eye out for Disco Mix.

funny -- i was talking to me neighbor last week about marigolds... and we remember when they were just yellows and oranges.... I love all the reds involved.


Long Island, NY(Zone 6b)

I never have luck with Marigolds - The slugs get to them before I can enjoy them!

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

Those red marigolds are to die for!

I googled around on the Discos and found out they are Triploids (I think).

I wonder how the butterflies go for them?

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

check out this page

the Aurora Red is just stunning!!

who'da ever thought we'd be ooooing and aahhhhing over marigolds.
but these are magnificent.

>>Triploids == French Marigolds.
I think i have some "english" seeds... i will certainly WS these and see what they look like.

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)


I've grown Aurora Red and it's brownish red. Not even burgundy, just brownish. It looked good with Coreopsis tinctora (the one with the burgundy eye) and also some of the Rudbeckia hirtas with the brown centers, but unfortunately, I didn't plant them together and just had to imagine how I *would have* done it if I had known they weren't going to be red-burgundy-red.


Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

Thanks for that Suzy,

they look so red in the photo.

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7a)

I have seen Disco Red seed available on its own...probably in the Stokes catalog or something but I found this too. Free Shipping on $30 orders--maybe a few could pool their orders and share amongst yourselves. I did that with a couple of people last year and it worked well.

Alameda, CA(Zone 9b)

Anita: That lovely plant looks like Salvia elegans, 'Pineapple Sage'

Re seed drying: I like to collect when pods are brown, but if I have seeds that need some drying time, I keep them in junk mail return envelopes until ready. I seal the envelopes, cut off the very top and store them vertically in my bookcase. -For tiny seeds, it's sometimes necessary to put a bit of tape on the bottom corners so nothing leaks. This doesn't take up much space and works well.

Long Island, NY(Zone 6b)

Thanks Susan.

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