by Wendy Gasch, Horticulturist
Autumn is an excellent time to collect and
save the seeds of your favorite summer blooming perennials and annuals.
Not only is propagation fun and rewarding, it is also smart environmentally.
By perpetuating plants that grow well in your garden, you are reducing
the need for water and pesticides.
Seed collection should begin once
the seeds are ripe but before birds, animals, or wind disperses them.
An easy way to make sure you do not miss this window to collect your
seeds, is to begin monitoring the plants you are gathering seeds
from, in late summer or early fall. A simple way to test if the seeds
are ready for collection is to shake the seed head over your hand.
If seeds fall they are ready to be collected. One common method of
collection is to shake the ripened seeds into a paper bag, not plastic
since this may encourage mold.
To prepare the seeds for storage remove
any excess plant debris and allow them to dry thoroughly. Drying
is as simple as spreading the seeds out on newspaper or a paper bag
in a cool, dry space in your home.
Finally, place the seeds in an airtight container
in the refrigerator. Remember to label! Include plant name, collection
location, and the date they were collected. Refrigeration works great
for winter storage. Keeping seeds at a constant temperature helps
maintain their viability, preparing you for a successful sowing in
Seeds vary widely as to their propagation requirements;
so a little research goes a long way to ensure success. Olbrich's
Schumacher library is an excellent resource for all types of information
on this subject.
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