How to collect and save seeds

Learn how to collect and store seed from your garden plants, with our step-by-step project and video guide by Alan Titchmarsh, plus discover our top plants to collect seeds from

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
To do
To do

Do not To do in January

Do not To do in February

Do not To do in March

Do not To do in April

Do not To do in May

Do not To do in June

Do not To do in July

Do To do in August

Do To do in September

Do To do in October

Do not To do in November

Do not To do in December

Collecting and saving seed from your garden plants is easy to do and will provide you with plenty to sow next season. Leave a few seedheads on your plants after they’ve finished flowering, removing the rest to conserve the plant’s energy. Alternatively the seedheads may be highly ornamental and can be left on the plants for their display, but check them regularly to collect some of the seed once it’s dry.

Collecting seeds from your own garden plants can save you a fortune. In this short video guide, Alan Titchmarsh explains how at the end of the summer many plants are producing seeds that can be collected and stored ready to be sown the following spring.

He demonstrates how to collect seed from garden plants such as aquilegia, honesty and phlomis and explains that you need paper bags and secateurs before running through the process of gathering, cutting and collecting seedheads. Discover more plants to save seeds from.

The best policy when collecting seeds is to check your plants often, to know when they’re ready to harvest. Find out more about how to spot these signs in our guide to saving different seed types.

Aim to collect seeds on a dry day, when seedheads aren’t dewy or moist. All you need are some sharp secateurs or strong scissors and old envelopes or recycled paper bags. Make sure seeds are throughly dry before storing, and avoid plastic bags, as these can encourage damp. Lastly, label the envelopes with the plant name and date of collection.

Follow our step-by-step guide to collecting and storing seeds, below, and discover 10 plants to collect seeds from.


You Will Need

  • Seedheads
  • Secateurs
  • Paper envelope
  • Pen

Step 1

Wait for seeds to ripen fully on the plant before cutting off the flower spike. Remove in several pieces if it’s as large as this.

Saving seeds - removing the seedhead
Saving seeds – removing the seedhead

Step 2

Have a paper bag to hand for transporting the flower spike as seeds will quickly fall and be lost if you carry them far.

Saving seeds - placing the seedhead in a paper bag
Saving seeds – placing the seedhead in a paper bag

Step 3

Gently tip the bag out onto a sheet of paper, making sure you remove all the seeds. Pick out any bugs or pieces of debris.

Saving seeds - tipping the seedheads onto white paper
Saving seeds – tipping the seedheads onto white paper

Step 4

Funnel the seeds into paper envelopes, not plastic bags. Write full details of the plant on the envelope, including the date.

Saving seeds - funnelling the seeds into an envelope
Saving seeds – funnelling the seeds into an envelope

Put envelopes of seed into a sealed sandwich box along with a few sachets of dried silica gel, then pop it in the bottom of the fridge to keep cool until you’re ready to sow them.

Buy paper bags on Amazon

Buy silica gel on Amazon

Buy plastic storage boxes from Waitrose

Seedlings. Photo: Getty Images.

Plants to save seeds from


Aquilegia vulgaris
Aquilegia flower

When: June-August, as the seed pods turn brown and start to open
Sow: immediately, and save some for a spring sowing
Use: within a year


Astrantia 'Star of Passion'
Astrantia flowers

When: August-September, as soon as you see the seeds starting to fall onto the papery bracts below
Sow: immediately, they need exposure to winter temperatures to germinate in spring
Use: in spring, but viability decreases rapidly


White cosmos
Cosmos flowers

When: September-October, as the seeds turn black and free themselves from the cluster when rubbed
Sow: the following spring
Use: within three years


Yellow hemerocallis
Yellow daylily flowers

When: July, as the pods burst and when the seeds are black and shiny. Only species come ‘true to type’
Sow: the following spring
Use: within a year

Musk mallow

Musk mallow
Musk mallow flower

When: July-August, when the seed cases are papery and the seeds inside are black
Sow: March-April
Use: the seeds will keep for a few years


Orlaya grandiflora
Orlaya grandiflora

When: July-September, as the seeds start to turn brown
Sow: straight away, if you can give the resulting young plants winter protection
Use: immediately, as they lose viability fast


Pimpinella major 'Rosea'
Pimpinella major ‘Rosea’

When: August-September, as the seeds begin to turn brown, but before they begin to shrivel
Sow: fresh for the best results
Use: seeds can be stored for a season


Scabiosa columbaria
Scabiosa columbaria

When: August-October, as the seedhead changes colour and individual seeds begin to free themselves
Sow: the following spring
Use: seeds should store well for several years


Trillium erectum
Trillium erectum

When: July, as the seed pods begin to burst
Sow: as soon as you’ve cleaned the seeds
Use: seeds won’t store well


Pink zinnia
Pink zinnia

When: September-October. Leave a few flowers to dry on the plant, then rub the entire cluster to release the seeds
Sow: spring in the following year, indoors or outdoors.
Use: within two years