Yes -you read that right…I said harvesting the annuals!
Sounds strange to say that doesn’t it?
Most people associate harvesting with veggies and grains! Well…some of us gardeners, harvest annuals!
Before I begin this discussion,I would like to say, that all of the flowers I am sharing today are from seed in my own greenhouse. They are not brand name flowers…they are the run of the mill plants. There are no copyrights on any of my seeded plants.
In this article, the photos are not new. I used some that I have had on hand that better show what I am saying.
I also do not grow my seeds to sell. They are grown for my enjoyment only.
Many of the brand name plants are genetically altered to be sterile. This means they are not meant to produce seed, and it is illegal to propagate for any purpose. Keeping all of this in mind….lets get to the harvesting!
FALL IS HERE… There is nothing we can do about it…like it or not the temps are going down and the season is ending. This means it is time to start looking towards the spring that will follow a very LONG winter.
I have recently received requests for information about gathering our own seeds...so today’s focus is on getting our gardens ready for the cold and long and dreary winter months that are not going to stay away, simply because we don't like them!
I know from my own experiences of trying to figure out how to harvest, when to harvest and what to look for is not an easy thing to simply go online and find out. Much of my information about gathering seed has been discovered by chance. Over the years, I have found many different seeds simply by looking for them!
First and foremost...you will want to get yourself some containers ready for the harvest. I use small tins with clear lids that I got at a garden center...but have also been known to use small baby food jars, old pill bottles etc...anything that is not totally air tight or too large. (you can have small holes punched in the lid if you are worried about being too air tight.)
Paper envelopes work well too. Just make sure your seeds are completely dry before you seal up your container...and DON'T FORGET to label each container!
Petunia plants have very small seeds. Their seed pods resemble bloom buds at first, but with a little patience you will see some very tell tale signs that there are indeed seeds inside that little mouth.
There's some...do you see them? Lets get a closer look..
In the upper right side of the above photo you will see two greener seed pods...those are just beginning to develop. Should you disturb the pod, the seed will not ripen and therefore will not germinate the following spring.
Lets get a closer look at one that is ready for harvest...
You can see how tiny the seeds are...there are a few sticking to the sides of the protective petals. Petunias are "sticky" plants. If you have ever touched one, you will understand. This is a feature Mother Nature added to them, to help keep the tiny seeds from all blowing away immediately upon opening.
When the seed pod is ready to "dump" it's seeds, and you will know this because the seeds inside will be very black. The outer shell of the pod will be partially open and a golden yellow color... Carefully take the pod off of the plant, pull back the sticky petals, and gently squeeze or shake the seeds out into a container. There will be hundreds of seeds in each tiny pod, so be prepared!
I only shook the pod a little bit so as to show you the size of the tiny little seeds... there are hundreds more waiting for me to collect on my plants!
Now that we have collected our seeds in our containers...now what?
You will need to make sure your seeds are stored in a cool and fairly dark area...make sure your containers are not air tight, as the seeds may still contain a little moisture, and produce mold..”ick”.
Keep in mind that you will not be guaranteed the same exact plant that you took the seeds off of. Many of the annual plants on the market today are HYBRIDS. This means that they took two separate plants to make the plant you have in front of you. They do this to create new varieties and colors. The seeds of a wave petunia...will not be wave petunia plants next year...so keep in mind that you may get some surprises when you harvest your own seed.
How do I know this?
Well... when my children were still to small to "pump" on the swing set...I used to spend endless hours laying on the grass in front of the swings pushing them. Of course I had a flower bed beside the swing set...OF COURSE...and one day I looked over at the petunias, and thought to myself..."great...what the heck kind of bugs are all over the petunias now?" Upon further investigation, I realized that it wasn’t bugs, but seeds!! Once I made this most interesting discovery...I joyfully shared it with anyone who would listen for weeks and weeks…and the rest is history.
Next, we will look at the Malva, Lavatera and the Marigold. These three flowers are prolific bloomers in my gardens, and produce easily the seeds that will become the plants of the future.
Okay kids…get your containers ready. These three plants are generous producers. You will be able to gather a lot of seed, and since they are a little larger than that of the Petunias that we harvested together yesterday, they will be easier to see, handle and store. I suggest a paper bag for these to start with.
Marigold, Malva, and Lavatera will require you to put a little effort into separating the seeds from the plant, so putting them into a paper bag, will not only buy you some space, but will buy you a little time.
Grab three bags, and label them. You can decorate them later...come on...lets go looking!
Look! There is a seed pod...or as I like to call it a Lavatera Button! Wait...don't pick that one yet..it is not ready. It's still green! Lets keep looking...
This one is looking a little better...the seeds are dark. I usually like to wait until the "button" itself turns a light brown/beige color. I have had an easier time getting the seeds out, and they have a higher germination ratio when I have waited. But...since there are not any that are that ready yet...we will have to pretend...
Pop that little button off the plant, and take the "wrapper" off...inside you will see that little ring of brown... those are the seeds! Rubbing them in your hand a little will separate them and voila! you have a few seeds for next year!
This is a whole bunch of Malva going to seed. Now..here's some little info tid- bits....Malva and Lavatera are from the same family, they have the same type of seed pods. Therefore, they can be treated the same way. Make sure the seeds are good and dry before you remove them from the paper bag and put them into a jar....also keep in mind, that although Lavatera will re-seed itself sometimes...Malva will ALWAYS re-seed. I did not plant any into my garden this year....and I have hundreds of them growing all over the place..! This can become an issue if you are not careful!
Let's go look for some Marigold seeds...
Here we are!
See the pod of seeds to the left above my hand?
The dead bloom?
yes...the dead bloom....it is full of seeds...the one in my hand, is the view from the front. Pluck it off...pull it apart, make sure you don't keep the dry flower petals....
There they are!
They remind me of the porcupine quills I used to see in my dog's nose as a child here and there! lol.....Now put those in your bag or put the whole pod in now and sort it out later...It has been my experience, that when I decide to plant the marigold seeds, the darkest, and hardest ones are usually more viable...
Between the Malva and the Marigolds, we could have a full blown mess of volunteer flowers...maybe I should do that in the alley bed I want to make next year....
Now...I realize that this next plant is NOT an annual....and the flowers are not really the part of the plant that we like...but I have got a spider plant that does not produce BABIES....or offsets...it instead insists on going to seed! I am very proud of this plant.
One day I came into the sun room and thought I was seeing poop from some unknown rodent. After freaking out, crying and almost putting the house up for sale....I realized that it was indeed the seeds of a houseplant! Let me tell YOU I was so excited. This more than validated that I knew what I was doing and did know one or two things about plants! Yea Me! (okay it was an accident...lol)
Okay...now that I have finished celebrating my success and beauty...did I say that? oops!....here is the photo of a spider plant seed pod...
Do you see the little buds?
Those are not plantlets getting ready to sprout...those are indeed seeds!
Lets look a little closer...
These are the seeds that are taken out of a mature and dry Spider Plant seed pod! woo hoo!
Now Spider plant seeds do not germinate quickly. The actually take their sweet old time! Most plants (that I seed) are up within 7-14 days...these babies take a little longer than that...so if you are lucky like I am to have a plant that will make seeds, cover gently, and keep warm and moist...and be patient...they will come....If you are not a plant freak like me, and do not really care if it is from a miracle seed....use the plantlets that the other plants will send out,..it is almost an instant addition to your plant collection....and much easier if I do say so myself!
Oh look....I think I see some pansy's that are going to seed! Can you find the seed pod in the photo below?
There are several....but one in particular caught my eye....yes...the one at the center at the bottom of the photo....good eye!
Lets take a closer look...
There it is....but this one is not ready. Pansy's are a little different than some of the others that I showed.
They have some very neat characteristics when they go to seed...
Cool isn't it!?! I love the way the pod will open up and become a star shape. Those little light brown dots inside the petals of the seed pod are the seeds! This one is not full anymore...the seeds must have already jumped out. But...we can take what we have here and put them in our container. ....and keep hunting.
On my way to another pansy plant...I happened upon a pot with some Alyssum....we can't miss those seeds!
Do you see all the little dry looking gray/white dots on the plant? Yes...those are the seeds! I don't usually collect the Alyssum seeds...they are cheap and plentiful in the garden center each spring, but you never know!..
What else can we find to show you.....hmmmm...
Okay, here's one for those that love perennials! This is a columbine and she has some pods just waiting to be plucked!
I grabbed the seed pod on the tip of its stem....
And dumped it out! ta-da!!!!!
No...those are not mouse poop! Those are the seeds of a Colmbine plant!
Isn’t this exciting???
The pods on this Portulaca (above) are not quite ready to burst yet. When they are they will look similar to those of the Petunia that we harvested earlier. The seeds are a tiny bit bigger....but very much the same drill for the harvest!
Check out the Snap Dragons! There are going to be Lots of seeds on those...
A closer view to show you what I see....those little pods all along the stem, will dry and the top where you see the little "string" will open up....then you can pour the dark seeds into your containers...Mine are not quite ready to harvest....
Lets go look at the Sweet Williams.
Yes sir! Those are definitely ready to pick. See the little cup? That little cup is just loaded with seeds for us to pour into our containers! ...
It is a little blurry...but you get the idea..
Now...Last but not Least....the seeds of a Geranium.....
Check out the fuzz on that plant!
Do you see those fuzzy things?
yes...those are the seeds of a geranium.
But...the fuzz is not the seed...
The little brown rice shaped thing attached to the fuzz...is the seed!
Well…that’s all the seeds I have to “pick” in my gardens. Thanks for walking with me, and keeping me company during the fall Harvest in my garden.
I grow many different plants, but do not harvest the seeds of them all. It is not worth the time or the effort for some of the different ones. If my Morning Glory had survived, I would have been able to show you those...they look like tiny little grapes....but that is a story for next year.
AGAIN I do not harvest seed from anything that I have purchased. Many times a hybrid plant will not produce what you want it to the next year from seed…and I don’t like surprises! The garden center plants are also under a copywright that does not permit us from propagating them ourselves. Keep that in mind if you are out looking for seed!
So there you have it...I am exhausted...how about you? Thanks for reading this LONG Post. Did I teach ya anything?
Thanks for joining me...! Until next time…Happy Growing/ Harvesting/ Gardening!
*)*)*) Inside you, there is the courage, faith, determination and drive to change or create anything you want in your life.
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