How to Harvest Zinnia Seeds

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.

How to Harvest Zinnia Seeds

 

8 comments

  1. Patti says:

    Hi Carole,

    My sister-in-law does this every year and here in PA it’s really nice to grow zinnia because they are one of the few that are still blooming their heads off into the fall. Every year I say I’m going to grow them and I even bought some seed this year but time got away from me. I’ll just have to try again next year.

    1. Carole says:

      You would love them, they’re probably one of my favorite summer cut flowers. I’ll see about sending in some of those seeds to you too. I’ve been letting those sunflower heads dry so I can sort their seeds. We’ve had a lot of rain and I’ve been a little slack in the garden so give me a couple weeks and you should eventually see those seeds in the mail.

  2. Jemma says:

    Good Morning Carole,
    Great tips on harvesting Zinnias and gifting the seeds. I am going to give that a try this week.
    Lovely to see a post from you, I always enjoy your writing and tips so much!
    Hugs,
    Jemma

    1. Carole says:

      Thank you Jemma -Harvesting seeds is another favorite thing I do in addition to the propagating. I was telling Robert I think I’m a weird gardener because I enjoy aspects of gardening that are often overlooked. He says it’s because I had a great mentor/teacher. I’ve been busy cleaning up the garden this week – which means early mornings and late evenings outside. All that rain well let’s just say I ignored that side of the farm for a couple weeks and what a mess. Hope all is well your way.

      Hugs,
      Carole

  3. daisy says:

    Zinnias are one of my favorites. They are so vintage-looking. Haven’t gotten any planted this year, but maybe I’ll still have time. It’s mighty hot out there right now.
    Thanks for sharing your seed-saving strategy. ;0)

    1. Carole says:

      You’re welcome Daisy – I think you still have time to plant some of these beauties. I’m adding some more seeds this week for fall.. Just a fun and way to keep the grounds fresh and inviting.

  4. I saved seeds from last year. Have you ever planted some mid-summer for fall blooms?

    1. Carole says:

      Hello Katie – Yes I plant a second batch every year. I actually prefer my fall harvest zinnias because their growth is a bit more relaxed. You may also enjoy this post on growing zinnias. http://www.gardenupgreen.com/2017/04/easy-to-grow-zinnias.html

      Hope you have a nice weekend -Carole

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