Provided By: National Gardening Association
Tools and Materials
- plant markers
- paper bags
- rubber bands
Step 1: Select the Best Plants
There's always some variability in a planting of the same variety -- some plants will have stronger stems or a more pleasing color or fragrance. Use plant markers to help you remember which seeds to save, since the flowers will have faded by the time you harvest the seeds.
Step 2: Observe Seed Formation
Most flower seeds are borne in pods or capsules. The ideal time for gathering seeds varies from crop to crop, but in general you want to let the seeds dry on the plant as long as possible. Observe plants frequently and watch as seeds develop and ripen.
Step 3: Use Paper Bags to Collect Seeds
Shake the seed head over a paper bag to collect the seeds, or snip off the entire dried seed head and drop it into a labeled paper bag.
Step 4: Separate Seeds and Chaff
Some seeds fall freely from the seed heads or pods; others need to be rubbed to loosen them. Discard nonseed material.
Step 5: Store Seeds in a Tightly Sealed Container
Good choices for seed containers include small glass jars (such as baby food jars) or film canisters. Keep them in a cool place -- in the refrigerator if there's room. You can store several different types of seeds in separate, labeled envelopes in the same jar. Include plant details and cultural information on the storage jars and envelopes, including plant name and variety, planting depth and sun/shade preferences.
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Tender plants and half-hardy annuals and perennials are started indoors, since they need artificial warmth or frost-free conditions. The seeds of most hardy plants can be sown indoors, too, if you want closer control of their germination and early growth.