How To Save Flower Seeds for Planting Next Year

By: Julie Day
Different size flower blossoms on window ledge.

Seeds from the two giant poppies on the left produced the small flowers on the right.

Flower Seed Basics

Remember how I told you to deadhead flowers so they’ll bloom more? Well, in order to save seeds you’ll need to ignore my advice. Seeds ripen after a flower has faded and lost its petals, so in order to collect seeds, you’ll need to let at least a few dead blossoms stay on the plant.

Some people deadhead selectively, so they can collect seeds throughout the season. Other gardeners stop deadheading in late summer, then harvest the seeds all at once. I’m in the late summer camp, but only because it’s more convenient for me.

Keep in mind that plants grown from seed can be unpredictable. Heirloom and open-pollinated plants generally produce offspring that are identical to the parent plant, but hybrids (crosses between two different types of plants) will often produce seeds of one type or the other, or strange combos.

You can also get different results due to cross-pollination between different varieties. Be open to the possibilities!

Orange Marigold  flower.

Volunteer marigold flower.

Last year, I saved seeds from my giant poppies. As you can see in the photo above, this year, the resulting plants are a combination of giant poppy (the two on the left) and other kinds, like that small pom-pom blossom and the unusual spotted one.

The marigold (photo at right) volunteered in my back yard this year, near my bed of seed-grown marigolds. I’ve never planted that kind before, but I love it!

Over the long haul, as you save seeds from your favorite, healthiest, strongest plants, see what grows, and then save THOSE seeds, eventually you’ll have a thriving seed cycle that’s predictable and uniquely yours – and who knows, you may even develop your own plant variety!

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How To Save Flower Seeds for Planting Next Year