Gardening

How To Save Flower Seeds For Next Summer

Fall in the mountains

Over the past few days a feeling of fall has arrived in the Southern Highlands of Appalachia. The time between the end of summer and when fall truly begins isn’t one of my favorite times of the year. Most of the garden, veggies, and flowers are at the end of their life cycle. The landscape takes on a look of death as it begins to die back for a season of sleep.

How to save bee balm seeds

I remember Granny gathering flower seeds during the last days of summer. She’d carry an old envelope to stuff them in, storing up the brown seeds as she looked ahead to their rebirth next summer. While I helped her collect the seeds I’d think we were storing up pretty flowers for the cold winter days ahead even if they were only in our minds.

How to save marigold seeds

As each summer ends, I find myself saving seeds just like Granny taught me. Although, I’ve read detailed instructions for seed saving I use the simple method Granny did. For most of the flowers I look for dried blossoms and pull them apart to reveal the seeds. This method works well with Marigolds,

How to save zinna seeds

Zinnias,

How to save purple coneflower seeds

Purple Coneflowers,

How to save the seeds of black eyed susans

Black Eyed Susans,

How to save cosmo seeds

and Cosmos.

How to save nasturium seeds

I also save Nasturtium seeds. I love-their huge flowing leaves, bright flowers and they’re even edible. You can’t beat that. To find their seeds just look down through the vining leaves. Sometimes 2 are together like in the photo. I take the seeds indoors and lay them on a piece of paper or paper towel and let them dry until they’re shriveled and brown looking, then I put them in an old envelope just like Granny and save them till spring.

How to save impatient seeds

Saving seeds from Impatients is fun. Look for seedpods that are swelled. Usually as soon as you touch them they POP. (children love to help with this one)

How to save flower seeds

Once the pod pops open it looks like this. You can discard the green portion and save the tiny seeds letting them air dry on a piece of paper and then store in a dry place till spring.

Sometimes I take the easy lazy way of saving seeds. I cut the entire dried flower, stem and all, and lay it where I want it to grow next year. In most cases it works.

Back in the days when the Three Indian Princess used my flowers in their mud pie making enterprise I ended up with flowers in some strange places, but I say a flower is nice no matter where it grows.

Tipper

This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig in 2009.

 

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29 Comments

  • Reply
    flowers toronto online
    February 27, 2013 at 4:16 am

    Spring has always been said to be the season for planting flower seeds. In actual fact however, the fall is also a great time for such activities. As it is colder during the fall, planting works are easier as compared to during the hot weather in the late spring and summer. Besides, the fall also makes for an excellent time for the various types of flower seed to build their roots before spring comes along.

  • Reply
    Tipper
    September 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Garland-I have never tried before! My roses didn’t do very well this summer-I think the early high heat got to them.
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia
    http://www.blindpigandtheacorn.com

  • Reply
    Pamela Moore
    September 23, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Tipper, I dry the cosmos flowers in the microwave. Lay between paper towels and run on high in ten second intervals until crispy dry. I always have enough pokeberries to use fresh for dyeing. But I would try small batches in the microwave and if that didn’t work move to the food dehydrator.
    Pam

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    September 23, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Tipper–Ask B. Ruth if she ever tried drying pokeberry seeds and then reconstituting them when she wanted color for her painting.
    I also bet she has heard the old saying to describe a vivid red–“Red as a fox’s a– in pokeberry time.” Obviously Ed has, although he put it in the genteel form of viewing the southbound end of a fox heading north.
    Jim Casada
    http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    September 22, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Tipper, Did you ever try to germinate a rose seed? I have tried a number of times and have succeeded only twice. Unfortunately when I grafted it onto a hardier root stock, it didn’t take. Think I will try again.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 22, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    B. Ruth-The birds used all my pokeberries to paint my windshield. I guess they got them before the foxes. At least any foxes I’ve seen going away from me.
    Bradley-Reckon Tipper could be a Weeble? Push her over and I’ll bet she’ll stand back up!

  • Reply
    Tipper
    September 22, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    B.- Ive tried to grow 4 Oclocks more than once and never had any luck! But your story makes me want to try again : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia
    http://www.blindpigandtheacorn.com

  • Reply
    Brenda Kay Ledford
    September 22, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Tipper,
    This is an excellent posting and a reminder for me to start saving my flower seeds. It’s that time of year again. I recall Aunt Oma Morgan always saved her flowers seeds and my mama did, too. Thanks for the information.

  • Reply
    B.ruth
    September 22, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Tipper,
    I am so sorry, I thought I was through commenting. After reading Pamela Moores post about your orange Cosmos and hers…I wonder how she saves her Pokeberries…I have been picking some to use for painting with on watercolor paper.
    I used Beet juice to do a painting of beets this spring…nothing like the real color…I wonder if she could email you or post it here…You have to use gloves, very stainy…LOL
    Sorry, that I don’t have any orange cosmos this year..a straggly white one that self seeded..is all…
    Thanks Tipper

  • Reply
    Bradley
    September 22, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Tipper,
    I once worked with this older man. Actually he was going to retire soon. I will always remember him as a very pleasant person. Once we were talking of flowers and how we loved to see them come back to life every spring. It was that day that he told a story of this hard, calloused old man he knew when he was a boy. It seemed that this old man would not allow weeds to grow in his yard, which is acceptable I suppose but, neither would he permit a flower wild or not. He also wouldn’t allow his wife to plant them. He would pull any up that he saw and say, “Nothing is going to grow in my yard that doesn’t profit me in some way.” What is that saying about “There is none so blind as they that will not see.” “Mr. White – the person telling me this story – at last looked down for a moment and said, “Can you imagine someone that would begrudge a little flower a place to live in their yard?” Both of these men have long since passed. I still remember Mr. White but, the other has passed into oblivion. It’s just as well I suppose.
    Your post about the flowers brought that memory back to life today Tipper. Bet nobody that you have ever touched with your blog will ever have trouble remembering your name. You always come through.

  • Reply
    Sandy
    September 22, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    I hate tnis time of the year but still I cannot keep myself inside. I am sitting on the porch with my dog and the wind is playing music on the chimes. I know it is blowing in winter so I am just going to sit on the swing and feel sorry for myself and wonder how long till I build the first fire in the woodstove.

  • Reply
    B.ruth
    September 22, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Tipper,
    Well, I’m back again..Got some dishes washed..Took my Saturday bath and washed my hair. LOL I stepped outside for a while to enjoy this “First Day Of Fall”…It sure is purty out here today. Watched the chickens awile…and pondered on these flower seed comments..and what I remember about saving seeds…
    I thought of the time, when I was a girl. She had this big patch of green bush like flowers…No blooms, just buds…Mom, said, “You sure have a bunch of Four O’Clocks, Mother!” Well, I was a nosy, little overhearing, type child..My thought, what are Four O’Clocks? I asked!..Smart alect Uncle said, “They already bloomed, you have to get up early to see them!” He was scolded by my Granny and said to me, “Honey, they bloom at four o’clock in the afternoon!..She went on to say that she saved the seed, but that it was no need to plant them as they came up in that big bunch without planting last years seed!…I went back to playing..and got to thinking about those Four O’Clocks..It was getting late in the day and we had a few more “kin” visits to make. Dad was pestering Mom to hurry up so we could go…I asked what time it was..of course it was nearing four in the afternoon..I begged them to stay until the Four O’clocks bloomed…Some were already starting to open..I was going to watch, wanting to see this miraculous (National Geographic) moment like the films I’d seen in elementry school!.I went back to playing and wait a while. When I remembered the flowers again, Dad was saying, “Let’s go!” I realized that they were all open and sure enough it was after four in the afternoon…I made myself angry for missing them..but like todays kids, I got distracted by something else at the time…I sure wish I had some of those seeds my Grandmother saved…
    I love Four O’clocks…do you?
    Thanks Tipper,
    Guess I’m done for today…I really need to get busy..

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    September 22, 2012 at 11:44 am

    This site is full of ideas! I use coffee filters for everything such as draining fries, serving the kids chips. I never thought of using for seeds,but sounds like a wonderful idea.
    I have Petunias year after year from a protected planter on a covered porch. I even use that planter to give vegetable seeds an early start, and then I carefully leave the tiny Petunias to grow. Also have found some advantages to laziness. My weediest tomatoes did the best, as they were protected from that harsh heat this summer. By not cleaning out my planters very well they give me many pleasant surprises in the Spring. By not properly preparing my garden in the Fall, I have numerous volunteer potatoes, onions, mustard.
    I don’t mind this time of year very much as I get to be even lazier.

  • Reply
    Ethel
    September 22, 2012 at 11:02 am

    I too use the envelope method of seed saving. Every year I save some seeds from the prettier colored hollyhocks, the moonflowers and some Trail of Tears beans that a native american woman gave me about five years ago. I haven’t found it necessary to save seeds from coneflowers or black-eyed susans; even with the gold finches gobbling up their seeds each fall, I still end up pulling hundreds of unwanted starts from these flowers every spring!

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    September 22, 2012 at 10:54 am

    I just break apart the seeds of the flowers in my flower beds and scatter them. They will be growing within a week. I planted one potted Zinnia about three years ago. I still have Zinnias growing. I have to fight the Impatiens or they would take over the entire bed. I have white and purple allysium everywhere. Lucky I live Hawaii.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    September 22, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Tipper–Do you put your saved seeds in the freezer? More of them will be viable that way and they will last more than a year in many cases. Of course some seeds found in the pyramids have been viable after thousands of years, but then they were “stored” in an ultra-dry climate.
    As for fall and the change of season, not only can you see it; you can smell it, hear it, and simply sense it in a manner which defies my abilities with words. The smell is a blend of fall flowers, dust, falling leaves, milkweed spores floating in gentle breezes, dust devils dancing across fallow fields, and much more. As for the sensing part, I think it comes from an invigorating briskness in the dawn air, shorter days, squirrels barking in a hickory tree, trout and other fish feeding against the coming lean and mean times of winter, and a bit of extra pep in an old man’s step.
    Fall in no way brings dismay to me; it’s just a reminder of nature’s changeless yet ever-changing ways along with all the goodness of harvest time. It’s the glory of an October’s hunter’s moon, the excitement of finding deer rubs and scrapes, the joy of waiting for bushytails high on a hardwood ridge, and so much more.
    In truth it would be a toss-up for me as to whether I enjoy spring or fall more.
    Jim Casada
    http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com

  • Reply
    Pamela Moore
    September 22, 2012 at 10:19 am

    I see you have my favorite orange cosmos. I save and dry the flowers to use when dyeing wool. Makes a lovely, dark orange dye.
    Pam

  • Reply
    Ken
    September 22, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Tipper,
    As we look forward to this First
    Day of FALL, our friends to the
    North, like Minnesota and Wisconsin are enjoying snowflakes.
    I love the changing of the seasons
    especially the cooling down part.
    Just when we think we can’t stand
    it any longer, The Good Lord has
    a remedy for that…Ken

  • Reply
    Tipper
    September 22, 2012 at 9:57 am

    B-I love Johnny-jump-ups! Their sweet little faces always brighten my day-and youre right theyjump up all over the place LOL!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia
    http://www.blindpigandtheacorn.com

  • Reply
    Shirla
    September 22, 2012 at 9:55 am

    I have often wondered why this time of year is so depressing for me. Like you, it is not my favorite season. You described it best when you said, “the landscape takes on a look of death.” Mom always saved her seeds in a baby food jar and then froze them till the next year. I save seeds from my Star Of Bethlehem and Zinnias. The Angel Trumpet seeds are in a big pod with stickers that are hard to deal with. I pull the pods and bury them in the same area to avoid having acres of them the next year. I have heard they are dangerous and sometimes fatal if eaten by cattle or deer. I only let them grow where I can keep an eye on them.

  • Reply
    Ken
    September 22, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Tipper,
    I like flowers and all but since
    my girls got grown and married, I
    just stick with gardening. B. Ruth
    mentioned the Morning Glory Fairy,
    well I’m just glad she waited till
    my green bean harvest was over.
    Now there are thousands on the
    stakes and wires where they were.
    …Ken

  • Reply
    B.ruth
    September 22, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Tipper,
    Yes, I do have more to do on a Saturday morning…but why do it..LOL I’d rather keep commenting on your web site!
    Anyhow, Does anyone have Johnny-Jump-Ups?
    I had them jumping up all over the place after planting some from the nursery one Spring…The next year they where hither and yon and were a wonderful surprise!
    That is such a perfect name for them…
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    September 22, 2012 at 8:59 am

    The beginning of fall/autumn begins some time this morning. I love this time of the year. I have never tried gathering seeds; I let them fall where they want. I will admit that I have had some land in strange places, but I enjoy them wherever they land. I especially enjoy the impatience flowers. They grown throughout my ground cover. Thanks for the seed gathering information. I might just do that for a couple plants this year.

  • Reply
    B.ruth
    September 22, 2012 at 8:44 am

    Tipper,
    and BF….Wow, good idea, that is an easy way and filters asorb more of the water on the seed…So when it is dry that would be perfect…One could just buy one of those cheap packs of recycled paper filters at the dollar store and save just for the seed saving!…Thanks BF
    Is the top of everyones refrigerator the mechanism used to dry out those paper plates of squash/melon seeds and coffee filters…
    Just wondering ….Thanks Tipper!

  • Reply
    Lonnie Dockery
    September 22, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Every fall I save flower seeds…and spend every Spring looking for them!

  • Reply
    Rush
    September 22, 2012 at 8:13 am

    Thanks Tipper!
    I had been enjoying a respite from the garden so much that I almost forgot about the flowers and my herb seeds. In fact, I need to check my sage and see if I have some left for drying. I really do miss having impatiens. I am not sure the varieties at the nurseries have seed pods or not. If not, may I get a few from you?

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    September 22, 2012 at 8:01 am

    I saved seeds when I was a child, I loved the process and replanting them.

  • Reply
    B.ruth
    September 22, 2012 at 7:33 am

    Tipper,
    Saving seeds…That is exactly how my Aunts, Grandmother and Mother saved seeds..Usually in a long white envelope..sometimes a used one then taped..The name of the plant written in pencil on the front and the date and year.
    My Aunt saved petunias and pansy seed as well…In the fall she would plant her pansy seed in a large old washtub, cover it with cheesecloth…by spring she had the prettiest and earliest pansys in Canton…
    Thanks for the memory, Tipper
    PS…Do you know who saves all those morning glory seeds and scatters them everywhere. It must be the Morning Glory fairy that flits around early in the fall evenings.

  • Reply
    B F
    September 22, 2012 at 7:19 am

    i find that seed (such as tomato etc)after they have been washed thru a mesh colander and all the pulp removed ,i put them thinly on a coffee filter ,then when they dry , you just fold the ends in and write the name on the label what it is
    this is an easy way

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