Collecting and germinating your own seeds is rewarding and economical, as you'll get lots of new plants for free.

Advertisement

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.


1

Aquilegia

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


2

Astrantia

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


3

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


4

Daylily

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


5

Musk mallow

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


6

Orlaya

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


7

Pimpinella

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


8

Scabious

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


9

Trilliums

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


Zinnias

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

Advertisement

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. 
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement