The Q&A Archives: Saving Seeds from Garden Plants

Question: How do you know when to gather seeds from flowering plants to save for replanting?

Answer: Flowers mature and seeds ripen at different times, so there's no absolute when it comes to seed saving. Poppy seeds, for instance, are contained in a hard shell-type capsule. When they're dry you can shake them out of the capsule. Sunflower seed heads bend and contort to aid in releasing their mature seeds. In general, seeds are ready to collect when the plant starts releasing them on its own--when seed pods begin to split open, for example. Once you see signs that the plant is beginning to disperse its seeds, you can place paper bags over the seed heads to keep the seeds from falling out or being disbursed by winds. You'll just have to watch different types of plants to see when the seeds are ready to be collected.

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