It’s that time of year when zinnia blooms retire and new ones arrive. If you have several plants you know it can be difficult to keep up with their activity.
Many gardeners cut off dead blooms and toss the remains into compost or burn piles. I must admit sometimes I do this but not before I harvest seeds from expired stems. I was taught early on to save the best blooms for seeds to use in the next spring planting.
Normally those best blooms are the first ones to appear with quality characteristics, measured by size and color.
I thought it would be fun to share how easy it is to harvest your own zinnia seeds. This little tip will keep you from purchasing new packets year after year.
Zinnia’s Going to Seed
In order to harvest zinnias, seed you must let the buds go to seed, this means you leave the flower alone and let it dry out on the stem. Over a few days the petals will disappear and the base of the flower expands.
Since I harvest my own seeds every season I’m always on the lookout for the best blooms; sometimes I will mark them with a string so I don’t forget because once with fade it can be difficult to remember those quality flowers.
Removing Dead Blooms
Removing dead blooms may take about a week or two because the flower needs time to finish producing seeds; this will vary due to temperature and how much rainfall occurs.
Once you have several dried blooms remove them from the stem with cutters just as you would for a fresh cut flower. When you’re done find a clean space to work for collecting seeds.
You’re going to be amazed at how many seeds one flower can produce.
Harvest the Seeds
Harvesting is fun and it can get kind of messy if the flowers still have some of their petals attached. The seeds come from the bud base and in this case, we’re looking for oval shaped seeds. They’ll vary in color and there will be many.
All you want to do is separate and sort the seeds from each bud until you’re done. Sometimes I take a wire screen and sift through, this is faster than separating by hand. I made a screen using small gauge wire and it works pretty good.
Wasn’t that easy? If you think about it harvesting zinnia seeds isn’t that difficult and remember to let these seeds air dry for about 5 days before storing them in an envelope. Make sure to label the year and variety if you remember that information.
Now you have seeds for next spring and maybe you’ll have additional seeds to share with your gardening friends. Harvesting seeds from the garden can make great Christmas and Birthday gifts for gardening enthusiasts.