Not only is harvesting your seeds a super affordable way to have an abundant supply of beautiful flowers next year, but it’s also enjoyable and easy. This step-by-step guide on how to save seeds highlights 7 flowers you’ll want to have in your garden.
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Most of these flowers are annuals, so to save seeds from spent flowers and use them the following year can save a lot of money!
Plus, it’s just fun and gratifying to look out in your yard or gardens and see all these glorious little balls of colored sunshine that you grew yourself.
I want to note here that a lot of hybrid plants do not produce viable seeds. I still try anyway with some of them, but most do not grow.
So let’s dive in! You’ll see that most of these are easy to save seeds from. So fun!
Oh, the pretty cosmos! I really love this flower and have a big variety of them every year – all from seeds.
As a matter of fact, I have never bought a single cosmos plant, just started them all from seed by placing them under a grow light.
There are so many different colors and leaf variations of this beautiful little jewel! And bonus, they bloom all summer long!
In my gardens right now, I have orange, yellow, pink, and variegated beauties. I have some “flowing” leaves and the “standard” cosmos leaf.
Buy the ones you want once, and you’ll never have to buy another again.
Collecting the seeds is easy –
- Just wait until the flower stops blooming, allowing it to dry up on the plant.
- It will turn brown and dry and have little “spikes.” These are your seeds. All you have to do is cut the stem and store them in a cool, dry place.
- These do not need to be cold-stratified (placed in a cold, moist location like the refrigerator to mimic winter) and would die if they were.
- I keep mine in a simple envelope either downstairs in a box or in a cupboard upstairs. So far, almost all the seeds have been viable.
Pollinators love this flower! They are beautiful additions in the ground or in bigger pots. You will want to save seeds from this very giving plant!
The marigold is probably the first flower we save seeds from without even realizing it!
I remember deadheading marigolds as a kid, they were so easy to pop right off the plant. Who knew they were so full of new little lives!?
This is another plant I have a lot of but haven’t bought for so long. They come in a variety of happy colors and look so pretty in any hanging basket, pot, or garden.
The scent of them also repels mosquitoes and other destructive insects, so you’ll often see them in veggie gardens or decks. Apparently, even rabbits are offended by the smell of a marigold, although I’ve never tested this out.
I’ve found that it’s best to plant many of these in the spring when you start seeds, for not all of them seem viable. That’s okay though, they are so easy to get!
I’ve even been known to snap them off in front of stores or restaurants (after asking). Call me “free help.” 🙂
To save seeds from the marigold –
- All you have to do is wait for a flower to turn brown. Simply snap it off and store it in a cool, dry place for the winter.
- I store mine in a brown paper bag, full flower heads, until the spring. You can kind of see the color still so I like to know what I’m planting if I can.
They are probably the easiest to find and harvest!
This gorgeous flower will shed its beauty on any garden, deck, flower bed, or balcony.
It comes in almost any color you could want, from pastels to solidly bright colors. It also comes in variegated colors, which I personally love. The only color you can’t get is blue.
It is related to the daisy and one of the easiest annual flowers to grow. They demand so little but add so much beauty to your area!
They have so many looks, this is due to the different types of zinnias you can get. There are four types of zinnia flowers.
- Single flowered – These have a single row of petals with a visible. exposed center of the flower
- Double flowered – These types has several rows of petals and also have a visible, exposed center.
- Fully double-flowered – This type also have several rows of petals, but the center is fully hidden under petals.
- Cactus flowered – This type has very long flowers with each petal rolling underneath itself, forming a unique look.
The beauty of the zinnia extends beyond eye candy. Each flower is filled with rich nectar, which serves as many wonderful meals for all kinds of pollinators, including hummingbirds.
It’s easy to save seeds from the zinnia –
– but maybe a bit unsightly for you. Luckily though, you don’t have to collect many flower heads to give you a ton of seeds for the next year.
- Just let a flower die out on the plant and wait for it to turn brown and dry. Snip it off and either store it that way or rub it over a bag or bowl and you’ll see the seeds fall out.
- Store in a cool, dry place for next year. This seed doesn’t need cold-stratification, and you don’t want to either, as it would kill the seed.
I have never bought a zinnia plant, seeds are easy to grow and easy to save. What a wonderful little flower this is!
Oh, the beautiful, life-giving plant of the milkweed!
Unfortunately, it has a little bit of a bad rap. First off, the name “weed” is in its name. Second, I’ve heard some people call it invasive or aggressive.
Then others are worried about the “milk” portion of it, especially those that have horses.
Please give me a moment to squelch all of those myths!
The milkweed is so diverse and supports so many different life cycles that it’s almost its own little world.
Without it, we would have zero Monarch butterflies in this world as the milkweed is the caterpillar’s sole host plant.
The flowers are glorious and beautiful and are a favorite nectar of many pollinators. My milkweed flowers are often filled with honey bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other native bees.
The common milkweed smells beautifully of a lilac bush, and they are pretty to look at.
The only variety of milkweed that can spread quickly is the common (Asclepias syriaca L.), which also spreads underground with rhizomes. But please note that they are easy to transplant. Or in the case of our yard, mow when they pop up somewhere odd.
As far as toxicity, a horse would have to eat between 1-20 pounds of milkweed to be lethal! That is more than any field could sustain (although, of course, observe your horse). As a matter of fact, deer eat milkweed often. Settlers also used to cook it as a vegetable during a particular part of the life cycle.
I do recommend using caution with the “milk,” as it can be harmful to your eyes. And really, just use common sense, including with your animals, who most likely won’t even go near it.
I have cats, dogs, chickens, and horses, and none of them has shown any interest at all. I also make it a practice to wash my hands after I handle it.
It’s very easy to save seeds from the milkweed plant of any variety.
- Most of us are familiar with the seed pod of the plant. If you have plants on your property, you’ll see the flowers turn into these pods. You’ll be tempted to harvest right away, but you must wait!
- Harvesting too early will result in seeds that aren’t germinated. You must wait until the pod becomes harder in the fall. I always wait until I see the seam of the pod begin to open, or if I can very easily open it myself.
- You’ll see the seeds inside, which should be brown, and you can then harvest!
You can store these seeds anywhere, but they must be cold-stratified before you sow them.
My rule of thumb is in the refrigerator for at least one month in an envelope, between a very lightly damp piece of paper towel.
I’ve been known to save seeds in there for longer than that. Which is fine. Midwest winters last at least four months, so they are good with that!
I then put them in organic starter soil, and let them grow! There doesn’t seem to be a certain time in which they start growing. I’ve had some pop up in a week and others a month. And I’ve had many not even grow (not all are viable it seems!), so watch them closely and plant extra just in case.
Another option is sprinkling the seeds in a ditch or field in the fall to grow naturally. Or give some away to friends!
Remember, to save seeds from the milkweed is to save Monarchs. 🙂
5. Black-eyed Susan
I really love the cheery, bright, happy look of the black-eyed Susan flower! This perennial shows up in the middle of summer here in the Midwest and usually lasts until frost.
Pollinators love them, and if you deadhead, the flowers are in abundance.
The black-eyed Susan is a more compact, smaller plant with darker centers. The very close lookalike, the brown-eyed Susan, is a taller plant with lighter brown centers.
Both are summery gorgeous, and both are easy to save seeds from –
- The seeds are located in the centers and ready to harvest about 3-4 weeks after the blooms fade. You could even wait up until a month or two after that if you wish.
- All I do to collect these seeds is snip the spent flower off and place it in a brown paper bag. Simply shake the bag, and the seeds will fall out.
- Not all seeds will be viable, so I suggest collecting or planting a little more than you think you’ll need.
- Then I place the seeds in the bottom of a box in a dry location for several weeks (you could also use a tray) until the seeds look and feel completely dry.
- I then put them in an envelope and store them in the refrigerator as they need cold-stratification for at least three months.
6. Morning Glory
The first time I ever had a morning glory, it was in this beautiful, variegated blue color. I loved it. I also thought it was a perennial, so I was pretty bummed when it didn’t come up again the following year. (Morning glories are perennials in zones 10 and 11)
Luckily it’s easy to save seeds from these pretty, old-fashioned flowers!
- Look over the vine for spent flowers that are ready to fall off. The flowers will leave a small, round pod.
- Once these pods turn brown and hard, crack one open. Your morning glories are ready to harvest if you see a bunch of small, black seeds in these pods.
- I cut off the stems behind the seed pods and put them in a brown paper bag. I then usually sit at my kitchen table and crack the pods open over a paper towel, so they don’t bounce onto the floor!
- They need a warmer spot to dry, so I usually put them back into the paper bag and keep them in a kitchen cupboard until they harden. If you can’t dig your fingernail into it, they are usually ready.
- I store them in the bag with my other seeds. No cold-stratification is necessary. I like them in the paper bag so they can continue to dry out if there is still moisture in them.
Pollinators and hummingbirds like this plant, and although one flower doesn’t last very long, it blooms nearly all summer long. If you want a pretty vine that won’t take over, try this one.
And don’t forget to save seeds for next year… you’ll want to. 🙂
The snapdragon is such a cool, pretty flower. They are very hardy and bloom after the cold has made the rest of my flowers disappear.
They come in many colors and are an old-fashioned type of flower.
They are great for pollinators as they release four times more scent during the day, drawing the pollinators right to them.
When honeybees visit your snapdragons, they carry the beautiful scent back to the hive. This brings even more to your gardens! Bring on the pollinators!
The snapdragon actually seems to be made for bees, so it’s great to have in your garden.
It’s also an easy flower to save seeds from –
When the flowers of this plant are spent in late summer, you’ll see this little, brown pod that almost looks like a small toy or a shrunken head.
There are actually folklore stories on the shape of this pod, including women who believed their youth would be restored upon eating these little shrunken heads!
- To harvest them, I like to make sure you can hear the seeds rattle in the pods. If not, I just wait a few more days, make sure the pods are dry, and pinch or cut them off. I like to shake them into a brown paper bag.
- Store in a cool, dark place with all the other little beauties waiting to be planted.
I so love to save seeds from favorite plants and watch them grow the next year. It makes me happy. It’s also a great money saver, and I’m always trying new ones.
What are some of your favorite seeds to save? Any tricks you want to share? Please do so below, I’d love to hear! 🙂