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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Harvesting the Annuals and Gathering Some Seed

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 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! 

Lets begin!

First and 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 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 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 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 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.'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 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 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 that I have finished celebrating my success and beauty...did I say that? oops! 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 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, 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 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 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.

¸.•´¸.•*¨) ¸.•*¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´ .•´ ¸¸.•¨¯`•.
 Today's post has been proudly sponsored by
chalk board sticker


Sandra said...

Hi Tootsie! I want to thank you for sharing with us. I had no idea that these flowers seed. Seriously, I didn't. lol I am gonna go out into my garden and start looking for seeds.
Thank you thank you!

Thoughtfully Blended Hearts said...

Tootsie, this is a wonderful the South where I live lots of these self germinate the next year...I always have lots of flowers and lots of volunteer tomato plants...It's always great to know how to gather these seed and you did a wonderful job with this...One summer I worked in the "lab" pollinating soybeans...the "lab" was in the middle of the field and I got to be a bumblebee in the middle of the, hot, hot...just the incentive I needed to go and get my Bachelor of Science degree to avoid another job like that one!

Sonia said...

Wow Miss Tootsie,
How wonderful that you collect your own seed...I am rather the impatient gardener with no I usually buy little plants in the spring...but what a great inspiration and money saving way to have loads of have inspired me to save some seeds...(I do usually do save hyacinth bean seeds as I just love the purple seed pods!) I am also wanting to build a greenhouse out of old windows...wish me luck!! LOL..I love your blog girl! Miss Bloomers/Sonia

susan said...

You are an absolute wealth of information! Shoot--I am reading this when it is dark outside and the neighbors will talk if I am roaming around flower beds with a flashlight :) I'll be looking first thing in the morning. My geraniums don't get fuzzy things. Do I deadhead too soon?

Anonymous said...

What a fabulous tutorial on seed saving! You provide such detail and your photo images really helped to tell the stories of the seeds from each of the flowering plants. What a thrifty way to ensure beautiful blooms next spring!

Debbykay @ Rose Cottage Gardens and Farm

Teresa said...

Very interesting post and you have a way of explaining it very well. Thanks. It is fun to collect seeds from your plants but mine always get so leggy before I get to plant them outside. Maybe next year will be the year I get it right.

Peg said...

Your post may have been long but it is so very informative... thank you! The photos took a lot of your time but are very helpful to your readers. I have collected seeds from marigolds, lantana, and sunflowers, but I never knew where to find seeds on geraniums and petunias. Great job!

Four Paws and Co said...

Good one Tootsie! I saved some day lily seeds - let me know you want them. I may have more - would have had a lot more if Steve hadn't decided to trim/butcher the bushes out front with his weed eater thingie. ☺ Diane

Blue Creek Home said...

I think I could actually learn to "garden" from you.
This is so informative and interesting.
However, I would manage to place real rodent poop into my cute little containers and have a garden full of it next year!!!

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

This was a great post. I have to admit I'm pretty lazy about seed collecting normally although this year I have collected some. Now I can't wait to see you when you are starting all these seeds in your greenhouse.

Regina,DailyLiving said...

Such a great garden full of lovely blooms! You have a green thumbs. Wonderful post.

Tracy said...

Wow good to know. Thanks Tootsie. I may go out and check all my plants when I get home from work today! It is so much more fun to grow a plant from seed than to buy it at the nursery.
Have a great day!

"Blossom" said...

Tootsie, you will have me going thru the neighborhood looking for seeds. Now I love to get out and drive thru a neighborhood about 30 minutes from where we live. This area decorates every season and holiday. Now when I stop and admire this place and the neighbor comes out I should do this when the seeds are ready to fall and just maybe they will part with their seeds. LOL

pammiejo said...

Great article about seeds! I do some seed collecting - not all do I save - some I just fling out onto the ground around the plants and hope that next spring there'll be lots of volunteers. It sure happens when you don't want it to and not so much when you do! This is also a good time to do cuttings - do you do that much? PAM

Anonymous said...

You are amazing Tootsie! Some of these seeds look like little granules of pepper and the others like little peppercorns. I'm so amazed you start your plants from seeds. Your gardens are always so very gorgeous. Are there any flowers that will last through your cold winters?
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

Darla said...

I am glad you shared about the pansies and the petunias. Those seeds have alwasy stumped me. Guess I was looking at the wrong time. Our crown is posted today!

Becky K. said...

Thank YOU!!!!! I loved this. I cannot wait to go seed hunting! I have many of these plants and buy them each year. I can't wait to impress my husband and plant crazy son in the Spring!

Becky K.
Hospitality lane

Bonnie said...

Thanks for all the great information. I never noticed the seeds on the geranium before. What a great post. You motivated me to get out there and start looking for more seeds.

cindy said...

This was an amazing post! Has anyone ever told that you may be an over-achiever?! This should be in a book somewhere....I feel like I should send you check or something for this info...thank you!

Mary Bergfeld said...

What a wonderful post. Thank you for this wonderful tutorial. You should submit this post to a magazine. I hope you are having a wonderful day.

SmilingSally said...

Whoa! You WORKED on this post! Living in Florida, I just need to water, and Bam! it grows.

No wonder you have such a magnificent garden. You prepare, prepare.

Mary | Deep South Dish said...

Wow! Great info and loads of work. Thanks for sharing this - perfect!!

Val said...

Wow. I am so impressed. I have been thinking about my marigold seeds but had no idea about all of this other stuff. Thanks for sharing all of this. I am going seed hunting this weekend.

kclily said...

Hi Tootsie, Thanks for the reminder that I need to be outside looking for seeds to harvest. Most of my plants will simply drop seed and come back next year but I do harvest morning glory, columbine, zinnia, and castor bean seeds. I have a green house and raise many of my plants from "purchased" seed. Your tutorial was excellent.

Anonymous said...

Wow Tootsie, you do know flowers. I am going out tomorrow to look for seeds. I would have more flowers each year but it can get so expensive. Thanks so much for this get post. I'm hoping Bloomfield Farm is from my neck of the woods. I sent her an e-mail.

Urban Green said...

Lovely post, thanks for sharing. You've explained it very well. I finished collecting seeds a week ago...

Lady Katherine said...

This a wonderful post, I'm wanting to go out in the dark and look and see if my spider plant has seeds! I'm thinking I saw something like that on my springreigh fern, Oh! I can't spell it! I got to go to bed now so I can get up and hunt seeds! lol The chickens will probably beat me too it!
I saw a comment on Gloria post, do you do nails?

Amy said...

What a wonderful gardening blog! I will enjoy visiting and learning more about seeds. Thank you for sharing! :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this information on your blog. So many will gain much knowledge for gathering the seeds they like.
You are a very talented gardener and your yard is simply beautiful.

Lona said...

Thanks so much on the tutorial on harvesting seeds. I had wondered about the alyssum seeds and the lavatera. You have been a great help.

TwirlandTaste said...

Tootsie you are so smart and so kind to share with the rest of us. Thanks for all your tips as I always learn something everytime I visit.
Happy Twirls

Inspired Comblogulations said...

Somebody should be paying you big bucks for this info...the petunia pod almost popped me in the nose.
You my dear are amazing.
Lee @ Inspired Comblogulations

Shellbelle said...

WOW! How talented and knowledgeable are you? I was so excited this year to sprout seeds from my plumeria tree, but they are big and easy to find. Just amazing!

Sassy said...

sooooooooooo much knowledge comes out of your blog...thank you....but even better would be for you to come to Arizona and just help me....I would so love to have a great yard...thank you for all of the things you teach us about.....hugs to you♥

Dirt Princess said...

Great post! I always gather as much seed as I can. They always do well for me when I plant them in the spring! That is on my to do list this weekend....that is if it doesn't rain!

Leigh of Tales from Bloggeritaville said...

amost interesting post. I learned alot. I had no idea about the geranium seed. I usually snap off the ends of mine after they flower. I guess I should leave them alone? I was always told to remove that part after it flowers. WOW! Things you learn.
Your garden is AMAZING!!!!!

Wsprsweetly Of Cottages said...

Tootsie!! How on earth did you ever learn all of that?? YOU are amazing...

Helen said...

My dear Tootsie! You should be out on the lecture circuit, or on TV, or in magazines! You are simply amazing and so knowledgeable.

Nell Jean said...

what a grand post! I already knew how to gather and process my seeds, but it was a joy to read and look at the photos of your seed-gathering.

Many gardeners will appreciate what you've shared here. Is it all right to link back to your post?

Erin said...

Tootsie, you rock...the kids and I ran around this morning getting marigold, zinnia, and petunia seeds. Now were waiting for the geraniums to do their thing, as well as looking into getting the seeds from my little impatiens plant that survived. I'm dying to know, however, what do the seeds from Wave petunias turn into?

Betty819 said...

Thanks for all the seed gathering lessons. I knew about the marigold, and columbine but not the others. If the weather is nice on Sunday, I need to work in my flower beds after I get home from church. I have portulaca, snapdragons, Bubble Gum pink petunias(from Proven Winner). What about verbenas? I have geraniums too. Oh, yeh, pink coneflowers, and I've already got an envelope of black eye susans from my daughter's plants. There are public gardens here in our gated, Sr. Citizens community and I will take a stroll through them and will ask if I can have some seeds. This one man has 3 lots and he always wins 1st. prize every year for his gardens. Always willing to talk and I bet he'll share. Usually I don't have good luck planting seeds in pots, but by golly, I'm going to try again in the Spring. I spent over $450 in plants back in late April.

Betty819 said...

How do you collect lantana seeds? I have the yellow lantana in a container and it has done so well this year. I'd like to have some other colors. Anybody got any other colors they'd like to share? I will trade you some columbine seeds for some lantana seeds(not yellow)

Betty819 said...

When you go to plant your seeds next Spring, what will you use to plant them in? Some people use the peat pots, some use small bathroom paper cups, some save yogurt cups, and many more items that can be recycled to use. It would be so nice if you could follow up about Feb. or March with a tuitorial on seed starting, like you did this on gathering the seeds. We have some public gardens near by and I've thought about volunteering in that dept. so I can learn some tricks of the trade and all about propagation methods.

Jean Campbell said...

Great tutorial, Tootsie. I think some people do not save seeds because they are not sure where to look and when. Now they do.

Thanks for the reminder that I have saved seeds that need planting now and gone-to-seed pods that need harvesting.

Someone said on my blog the other day, "You never mention buying plants."

Lori E said...

A fountain of information as always. Marigolds are always so easily collected and grow. No wonder it has been a favorite of elementary school teachers for years.
I had no idea about the spider plant.

Andrea said...

That's a lot of seeds to store in! And that's a lot of paragraph to read, haha, peace Tootsie.

Terra said...

Tootsie, thanks for this post; I am going to go out in my garden today and harvest some seeds. Some snap dragons have seed pods, and I will look at our zinnias and million bells too.