Come Autumn, after you have completed all divisions in the garden, if you’re still looking for a
project to keep you out of doors for THAT much longer, start collecting seeds that you can
sow in the spring.
What you’ll need:
- small scissors to nip off the seeds heads
- paper bags or envelopes to put the seed heads in as soon as they're cut. They give you
room to give the seeds a good shake to release ones stuck to the heads. You need to
label the envelopes immediately, or trust me you WILL forget what they were.
- a marking pen - first and most importantly, always harvest seeds when the weather
is dry. Mid day sun is best, but if that isn’t possible, lay the seeds out singly on newspaper
in a dry place for a few days. Then you may put them into paper envelopes for storage.
Naturally, in your enthusiasm some of the seeds you're so anxious to collect won't be ripe.
Sometimes, they won't even be mature enough to ripen and you'll have to toss them out.
But the majority will ripen properly if you put them somewhere dry. At this stage, they really
need to have enough room for the air to circulate.
The seeds are always where the flowers were, because the seeds grow at the bottom of the
style (the bit that sticks up in the middle of the flower). Sometimes, the seed pod forms
behind the flower (as in daffodil), but most of the time, the seed pod grows inside the flower
at the bottom of the style.
When the seeds are ripe, nature will disperse them. If you want to collect them yourself, you
need to wait until just before they would be dispersed naturally, because you know that they will
be ripe then. The seed pod will become dry and will usually change colour, probably from green
to brown or white, and the seeds inside will change from green or white to brown or black. Think
of the apple - the seeds inside an unripe apple are white. When the apple is ripe, it changes
colour and the seeds inside become brown.
Not all seeds collected will grow true to form. This is because some plants are cultivars, which
means they were produced through clonal reproduction. So if you plant seeds in spring that you
gathered in fall, the ensuing plant may look very different than what you had in mind.
African Daisy ~ Dimorphotheca sinuata
Alyssum ~ Lobularia maritima
Annual Phlox ~ Phlox drummondii
Baby Blue Eyes ~ Nemophila menziesii
Baby's Breath ~ Gypsophila elegans
Bachelor's Buttons ~ Centaurea cyanus
Bells of Ireland ~ Molucella laevis
Busy Lizzie ~ Impatiens
Californian Poppy ~ Eschscholzia california
Candytuft ~ Iberis umbellata
Chinese Forget-me-Not ~ Cynoglossum amabile
Cosmos ~ Cosmos
Doll's Eyes ~ Gilia tricolor
English Marigold ~ Calendula officinalis
Flanders Poppy ~ Papaver rhoeas
Floss Flower ~ Ageratum houstonianum
Flowering Tobacco ~ Nicotiana alata
Forget-me-Not ~ Myosotis sylvatica
Foxglove ~ Digitalis purpurea
Godetia ~ Clarkia bottae
Heliophila ~ Heliophila coronopifolia
Honeywort ~ Cerinthe major purpurascens
Lobelia ~ Lobelia erinus
Love-in-a-Mist ~ Nigella damascena
Marigold, English ~ Calendula officinalis
Monkey Flower ~ Mimulus
Nemesia ~ Nemesia strumosa
Nolana ~ Nolana paradoxa
Osteospermum ~ Osteospermum hybrid
Pansy ~ Viola x wittrockiana
Petunia ~ Petunia
Phlox, Annual ~ Phlox drummondii
Poached Egg Plant ~ Limnanthes douglasii
Poppy, Field ~ Papaver rhoeas
Poppy, Flanders ~ Papaver rhoeas
Pot Marigold ~ Calendula officinalis
Purple Tansy ~ Phacelia tanacetifolia
Queen Anne's Thimbles ~ Gilia capitata
Scarlet Flax ~ Linum grandiflorum v. rubrum
Shoo Fly Plant ~ Nicandra physalodes
Snapdragon ~ Antirrhinum majus
Spider Flower ~ Cleome hassleriana
Stock, Virginian ~ Malcolmia maritima
After collecting and labeling your seeds, it is best to store them in a cool, dry, dark place.
A freezer is NOT the best place for seed storage as certain seeds need different dormancy
Your best bet is to research each seed collected individually to get the best results, and it
just so happens you have all fall and winter to do so.
Good Luck and Happy Researching!