Collecting and germinating your own seeds is rewarding and economical, as you’ll get lots of new plants for free.
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.
Discover 10 garden plants to save seed from, below.
When June-August, as the seed pods turn brown and start to open.
Sow aquilegias now, and save some for a spring sowing.
Use within a year.
When August-September, as soon as you see the seeds starting to fall onto the papery bracts below.
Sow astrantias fresh – they need exposure to cold.
Use In spring, but viability decreases rapidly.
When September-October, as the seeds turn black and free themselves from the cluster when rubbed.
Sow the following spring.
Use Cosmos seeds usually last two to three years.
When July, as the pods burst and when the seeds are black and shiny. Only species come ‘true to type’.
Sow hemerocallis following spring.
Use Seeds store well for one year.
When July-August, when the seed cases are papery and the seeds inside are black.
Use The seeds will keep for a few years.
When July-September, as the seeds start to turn brown.
Sow straight away, if you can give the resulting young plants winter protection.
Use orlaya seeds immediately, as they lose viability fast.
When August-September, as the seeds begin to turn brown, but before they begin to shrivel.
Sow Best germination is from fresh pimpinella seeds.
Use Seeds can be stored for a season.
When August-October, as the seedhead changes colour and individual seeds begin to free themselves.
Sow The following spring.
Used scabious seeds should store well for several years.
When July, as the seed pods begin to burst.
Sow As soon as you’ve cleaned the seeds.
Use Seeds won’t store well – when they’re distributed by slugs and snails, trillium seeds will germinate rapidly.
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 Zinnia seeds usually last a year or two.
Storing your seeds
As well as using paper envelopes, you can also use small cardboard boxes, such as shoe boxes, to store large seedheads, but don’t close the lid until the seeds are properly dry. Keep your envelopes of seeds in airtight tins or jars, or hang the bags up in a cool, dry place with good air circulation, out of direct sunlight.