In the past I’ve spend hundreds of dollars per year on plants for my garden. After a couple of years, I’ve seen how much money I can save growing my own plants from seed (literally down from ~$300 to under $100). As an extension of that, I want to see how well I can do (and how much more money I can save) by collecting seeds from plants that I have grown. I’ve done this on occasion in the past, but here’s what plants are new to me this year:
Marigolds are one of my favorite tomato companion plants, with cutworm deterring properties. They’re also a lovely basket flower. Their seeds are easy to collect because they are so obvious with their long spindly seeds packed together.
To harvest: Once the flower is spent and the petals have dried and deteriorated a bit, you can cut the entire flower head off and place it in a warm location to dry. Once the seeds are dry, store them in an airtight container until time to plant in spring.
While not all flowering tobacco varieties are known for their scent, the tall, traditional flowering variety is one of the most noted. During the day, these lovely flowers are a brilliant addition to garden borders and in the evening they fill the garden with their intoxicating scent. And for many gardeners, even though the plant is an annual, it can seem perennial as it seeds itself and return year after year.
To harvest: Once the flower is spent it will lose its petals. After a week or two, the seedpod will ripen and begin to brown and crack open. When this begins to happen, carefully place a small container below the seedpod and snip off the pod with a small pair of scissors. The seedpods can be kind of sticky, so bets to empty the pod right away if possible so the seeds don’t stick to the outside of the pod. Store the dried seed in an airtight container until ready to plant.
Cosmos is a lovely daisy-like flower with wispy foliage that is easy to grow and care for. This year, I discovered that cosmos are also quite easy to start from seed! So, I thought, why not harvest the seed and see what happens?
To harvest: Wait until the green seedpod opens up. This will be pretty easy to spot… a spiky ball of seeds is all that is left. Cut off the seed cluster with a small pair of scissors and separate the seeds from the head. The seeds will be dry but leave them to dry a few more days, then put them in an airtight container for storage.
Since Petunias are a favorite plant for landscapers and are focused on heavily by nurseries all over, most of our petunia varieties are hybrids. In short, what this means is that the seed you collect from many varieties might not produce plants that are like their parents. The plants may be smaller or less colorful, but then again you never know what you’ll get until you try! (And if it doesn’t work out, what’s lost but a few free seeds and a bit of planting mix, right?)
To harvest: Petunias have a similar growth pattern as flowering tobacco (mentioned above). Once their petals drop off, the seedpods left over will be green and plump, then begin to dry and turn brown. As soon as you see the very first crack in the seedpod, it is ready to harvest. As many seeds may try to escape the pod, hold a small container under the pod, snip the whole thing off with scissors, and let the pod drop into the container. Empty the seedpods right away if you can, as they will be sticky and the seeds may try to cling to them. Let the seeds dry a few days and then store them in an airtight container.
Happy seed collecting!