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Past Articles Library | How To Save Summer Annual Flower Seeds


Save Summer Annual Flower Seeds

How To Save Your Favorite Warm-Season Flower Seeds For Next Summer!

Last month we talked about How To Save Tomato Seeds which showed how to save seeds that are contained in a fleshy fruit, like tomatoes, melons, cucumbers, etc.

This month we are going to continue, but we'll be showing you how easy it is to save seeds from your favorite warm-season annual flowers such as:

Petunias
Marigolds
Zinnias
Impatiens

Saving seeds is one of those gardening activities that really makes you take notice of how great nature is, and how complete and perfect the annual cycle of seed is.

Simply by looking for a few key elements, you can save just about any flower seeds you want and grow them the following year, and that's pretty fantastic.

After all, just consider how little we have to do - while the flowers, with such a complex process - naturally grow and produce their seed. All we have to do is harvest the seed, save it, and then sow it the next year. So our job is very easy, and in the next steps below, you'll see how easy!


First - A Word About Hybrids

It should first be mentioned, that any plants grown from seeds of hybridized flowers will not come true to type, meaning, they will not resemble the plants they came from.

Since hybrid seed is created by crossing two highly inbred parent plants, the result is F1 hybrid seed (like Marigold 'Bolero'), which can only be recreated if the exact same two parents are bred again.

Don't let this discourage you from saving flower seeds and doing your own tests with hybrids. You just might come up with a really great new flower growing seeds from hybrids, and that is what makes saving seed so interesting!

How To Tell If It's a Hybrid

You will always easily know if the plants you have are hybrids because every flower seed packet is marked on its label. So look for verbiage that says "F1 Hybrid."

Non-Hybrid Flower Seed

Any flower that is not marked as an F1 hybrid, and there are tons of them, will come true to type and you will get a plant similar to the parent plant.

These flowers include heirloom and open pollinated flowers, such as Gem Marigolds.

In fact, many gardeners consider open pollinated plants to be stronger since they have developed in a natural environment, and as such, are better acclimated to the growing area around them.

OK - so now that's clear, let's get started!


F1 Hybrid Marigold 'Bolero'

Heirloom or Open Pollinated 'Lemon Gem'


Petunias

1. Petunia seeds are located in a seedpod (the calyx) at the base of the flower

2. Find a good dead flower

3. If you remove the flower, you'll see the pointed seedpod (the calyx) located inside of the sepal

4. After the flower dies and falls off, keep an eye on the calyx

5. As the calyx swells with seeds, it turns brown and splits open

6. The pod contains numerous seeds that look like tiny, dark balls

7. You can also pick the calyx off before it opens and put it in a paper bag for storage

Dead Flower:




Remove Flower, Calyx Shown:



Calyx Up Close:



Seed Inside:




Impatiens

1. If you look at the back of an individual flower, you will notice a tiny green swelling. If pollination occurs, the flower falls off and this green bit will grow into a seed pod

2. Wait till the seed pods swell before picking

3. Seed release can happen at any time, often when the pod is still green

4. Be careful, because the seed pod can explode and seed goes everywhere, so put the seed pods in a paper bag

5. If the seed pods don't pop open, close the bag and shake it

6. Mature seed is brownish - white seeds are immature



Impatiens Seed Pod:




Popped Seed Pod:



Pod Contents:



Seeds:


Marigolds

1. Find a dead flower

2. If not super dry allow to dry

3. Split open

4. Remove seeds

Dead Marigold Flower:




Flower Dried:



Split Seed Pod:



Seeds:


Zinnias

1. Find a dead flower

2. If not super dry allow to dry

3. Split open

4. Remove seeds

Dead Zinnia Flower:



Split Seed Pod:



Seeds:


How To Tell When Seed Is Dry

1. Dry your seeds for about one week

2. When the seed is hard enough that you can't bite into it, or smash it, then the seed is dry enough to store

3. Store your seeds in an airtight container, preferably one with a rubber gasket like a baby food jar, as soon as possible so they won't reabsorb moisture. You can also add small pouches of silica gel, which are available at craft stores to help absorb any moisture. For more, read our saving seeds story

4. Keep your seeds in a cool, dry place, around 32 to 41° F (32 to 5° C) until you are ready to plant them

5. Finally don't forget to label your seeds, so you know what they are!


Clean, dry seed




Conclusion

Saving flower seeds is a lot fun and it's easy to do, because most flower seeds store well until the following spring and summer, when you can sow them.

This is great, because your success rate is very high, and since some gardening projects can be very difficult, it's nice to have a relaxing project like this because you know you are going to get what you want!


Hilary Rinaldi is a member of the National Garden Writers Association, a nationally published writer, and a certified organic grower. She regularly speaks and writes about all gardening related topics, with an emphasis on making gardening a successful and enjoyable process for anyone who wants to learn. Weekend Gardener Monthly Web Magazine concentrates of giving detailed gardening tips and gardening advice to all levels of gardeners.

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