It might seem sad to see your garden blooms coming to an end. But don’t worry: the end of the summer gardening season means it’s time to plan for next year’s garden! One easy thing you can do to prepare for next year is seed collecting: gathering the seeds your plants are putting out. Zinnia and marigold are two of the easiest kinds of seeds to gather, and if you take time to save them now, you can look forward to a garden of colorful blooms next year!
During the growing season, you should pull off any dead or dying flowers, which tells the plant to keep producing more blooms. At the end of the growing season however, leave dead blooms on the plant so that it will produce seeds for you to collect.
Zinnia seed heads just look like a brown, dried out zinnia flower. To collect them, just pull the dried flower head right off the stem. It should be very light and easy to remove from the stem.
Marigold seeds are contained in a little pod that’s left behind after the blooms have died. Sometimes you’ll see a few dried petals still attached to the seed pod. For seed collecting, just pull the brown pod from the stem.
I like to leave all my seeds in the seed pods until I get them inside, just because they’re easier to contain that way. Once they get inside, it’s time to bust those seeds out!
To get your marigold seeds, just peel open the seed pod with your fingers, and the seeds will come spilling out. The seeds are long and slender, and look almost like matchsticks.
Zinnia seeds are located in the center of the flower head. So just take your dried flower head and peel it in half. The individual petals should start falling away, but you may have to sort of pull them out with your fingers. The actual seeds are located at the base of each petal. It’s the part that’s shaped like an arrowhead at the petal base. I just leave the seed attached the the petal.
How to Store Seeds
At this point, many places will tell you to spread your seeds out on a paper towel and leave them out to dry for several days. I’ve always skipped this step and my seeds germinate just fine the next spring. However, I always collect seed pods that are very dried out. If yours have any green to them, or seem to have much moisture in them, you may want to take the step of drying them.
When you’re ready to store your seeds, find a breathable, paper container to use. Envelopes or paper lunch bags work great. Some people like to keep all of their seeds from different plants separate and label their bags thoroughly (by color, height, petal type) so they can plan where each type goes in next year’s garden. I personally just mark bags “zinnias” and “marigolds”, and throw all the seeds out together in the spring. Then it’s a surprise to see what’s going to pop up!
Store your labeled bags or envelopes in a cool, dry place over the winter, plant your seeds in the spring, and enjoy another year of blooms!