Tag Archives: flower garden

Endless Blooms: How to Save Zinnia Seeds

Heirloom tomatoes and colorful corn varieties often garner much of the attention when we talk about seed saving, but it’s not just vegetables that have a rich history. Gardeners have saved and selected flower seeds for thousands of years. Zinnias, one of the easiest flowers to grow, are also easy to save seeds from to keep next year’s gardens full of blooms. Learn how to save zinnia seeds in a few simple steps.

Select Good, Open-Pollinated Plants

If you want to save seed, having an open-pollinated variety is best. Varieties can mostly be divided into two categories, hybrid and open-pollinated, with heirlooms falling under the open-pollinated umbrella. 

Hybrids are a first-generation cross between two parent varieties. As they are a cross, there’s no guarantee on what their seed will produce next year; they may revert to looking more like one of the parents rather than what you just grew. You can still save seed if you’re okay with a potential surprise.

Open-pollinated varieties are established varieties that produce “true-to-type.” You can save seeds from them year after year with little change unless you select for it. For example, if you only saved seeds from a particular shade bloom.

Red Beauty ZinniasAll of the zinnias we carry are open-pollinated.

The “good” part of this statement is somewhat relative. To start, try to save seeds from plants that have been healthy and vigorous. Avoid diseased plants, as some diseases, like powdery mildew, can remain on the seeds. Then, you can also focus on other characteristics like color, size, or bloom period. Essentially, save seeds from plants you think looked and performed the best in your garden.

Consider Cross-Pollination

If you’ve grown multiple varieties of zinnias, insects may have cross-pollinated them. To achieve pure seed, like what we sell, zinnia varieties need to be isolated by 1/2 mile. However, no rule says you need absolutely pure seed. It’s fine to save seed even if there’s been a little promiscuous pollination; you may get some fun surprise variation from next season’s flowers. 

Mature Zinnia Flower HeadAllow The Flowerheads to Dry

With any seeds, it’s essential to let them fully mature before harvesting to ensure good germination rates. For zinnias, this means that the flower heads, including the petals, should be brown and dry. When this happens, you’re ready to start saving seeds and can cut or pull the flowerheads from the plant.

Zinnias Seeds and Flower HeadProcess the Flowerheads

First, pull the petals off the flowerhead and set them aside for composting. Some seeds may come off with the petals. Then, rub the flowerhead over a flat surface until it comes apart to release the seeds. The seeds are brown and a bit arrow-shaped. Pick out any extra material you can and set it aside for composting.

Zinnia Seeds

Dry Your Zinnia Seeds

Allow your zinnia seeds to air dry on a towel or other flat surface for about one week. This will help ensure they’re fully dry and won’t mold in storage. 

Store Your Zinnia Seeds

After they’re fully dry, you can store your zinnia seeds. Place them in an airtight container somewhere cool and dark. Zinnia seeds can last 3 to 5 years if harvested and stored properly. 

Be sure to label your container with the variety and the year you harvested your seed. Once you start seed saving, it’s easy to save more, and you’ll need to keep track of your seeds!


Zinnias are easy to grow, and their long bloom period and variety of colors make them an excellent choice for any ornamental or cut flower garden. Saving your own zinnia seeds is simple! It’s also a great way to help steward an open-pollinated variety and save a bit of money. Follow these steps for success with zinnia seeds.

Simple Seed Saving: Marigolds

Easy to grow, beautiful, and handy to have around, marigolds have earned a spot in many home gardens. Their bright, ruffled blooms and rich, musky smell make them alluring to humans but off-putting to many pests. They are among the easiest seeds to save. There’s very little processing. You just need to harvest the seeds and let them air dry for winter. Here’s how to save marigold seeds step by step so that you can have plentiful blooms all next season, too!

Choose an Open-Pollinated Marigold Variety

If you have marigold seeds from us, you’re all set; all our flowers are open-pollinated. However, if you purchased seeds somewhere else, you may want to double-check that your flowers are an open-pollinated variety rather than a hybrid. 

Hybrids may not produce flowers that resemble what you grew; sometimes, they revert to what one of their two parents looked like. However, if you don’t mind a little surprise variation, you’re always welcome to save seeds from hybrids!

Mature marigold seed pod
Mature marigold seed pod

Wait Until Your Marigolds Are Mature

As with any plant, you want to ensure the seeds are fully mature before you harvest them. For marigolds, you want to wait until the petals have dried out and the base of the bloom, the seed pod, has started turning brown. Letting the seed pod get as brown and dry as possible is best. However, in rainy years, you may need to harvest the seed pods while they’re still green on the bottom. The seeds may mold if it’s a rainy year and you wait too long. 

Marigold Seed pods (left), seeds (middle), dry petals (right)
Seed pods (left), seeds (middle), dry petals (right)

Remove the Seeds

Next, you want to remove the seeds from the pods. First, pull the petals off. Usually, they come off easily, and you can set them aside for composting. Then, you can split or peel the seed pod open to pull out the seeds. When the pods are dry, this is easy. 

Marigold seeds have an odd appearance; they always remind me of porcupine quills, but don’t worry, they’re not sharp! They’re long and thin, almost needle-shaped, with a black or dark gray tip and a white or cream-colored top.

Pick out any leftover pieces of petals and pods as best you can. 

Dish of marigold seeds and some seed pods
Dish of dry marigold seeds (left) and unopened seed pods (right)

Dry the Marigold Seeds

After your seeds are clean, it’s time to dry them. They may seem dry already, but they still have moisture, and they may mold in storage without proper drying. Spread the seeds on a plate or towel and let them dry for a couple of weeks.

Label and Store the Seeds

After your seeds are fully dry, you can package them in an airtight container for storage. Keep them somewhere cool and dark. Make sure to label your container with the variety and date.

Follow these steps to save marigold seeds for next year’s garden. In the spring, you can use your seeds to start marigolds indoors for early blooms. Marigolds germinate quickly, so you can also direct sow them. Many folks have found they make excellent companion plants, and you can plant them alongside many vegetables and herbs, including squash, tomatoes, beans, and basil. As flowers mature next season, you can repeat this process to save marigold seed.

Do I Really Need to Deadhead My Flowers?

We all want to keep our flowers looking healthy and blooming for as long as possible. One way you can do this is by deadheading. What is deadheading? What flowers should be deadheaded? How do I deadhead flowers? We’ll answer all these questions to help you keep your flower garden thriving this season.

Should I Deadhead All of My Flowers?

First, deadheading flowers is ultimately a personal choice. You can make gardening work for you. If you’re busy with summer family events, work, or other commitments, the world won’t end because you don’t deadhead your peonies. 

However, deadheading indeed encourages some flowers to bloom for more extended periods. When you remove spent flowers, it enables the plant to more energy into producing more flowers rather than producing seed.

Many people also find it keeps their flower beds looking tidy. Below are some of the flowers you can deadhead but a quick google search should give you an answer for any species.

Celosia (deadhead)Annual Flowers to Deadhead

  • Zinnias
  • Cosmos
  • Coreopsis
  • Calendula
  • Celosia
  • Violas
  • Morning Glories
  • Petunias

Perennial Flowers to Deadhead

  • Daylilies
  • Peonies
  • Roses
  • Irises
  • Echinacea

There are also reasons not to deadhead flowers. These reasons center around the fact that spent flowerheads develop into seed pods.

When you remove a spent flower, you’re not allowing the plant to produce seed. In many cases, this is a fine thing. However, it is nice to let some flowers go to seed. 

You may want some of your flowers to self-seed. Hollyhocks, for example, are biennial, meaning that they bloom the second year. Allowing your plants to go to seed each year ensures that you’ll have a steady supply of blooming flowers in the coming years. Other species that will readily self-seed include rudbeckia, coreopsis, and echinacea. Allowing them to go to seed means you’ll have more flowers next year with little effort.

If desired, you can also share some of these seeds. Swap seeds with friends or find an online or local seed swap. You can help preserve biodiversity and get some new flowers or vegetables to try in return!

Seed pods also bring beauty of their own. Seeds pods from poppies, Job’s Tears, and Jewel of Opar look lovely in the garden and dried arrangements. 

Another reason to leave those spent flowers to produce seed is wildlife. Songbirds love to feed on seeds from various flowers, including zinnias, echinacea, asters, and coreopsis. Leaving these flowerheads alone, especially as we head into fall, can be a great way to give birds a helping hand.

How to Deadhead Flowers

Decided to deadhead some of your flowers? Deadheading flowers is simple and easy. Thankfully, it’s a much easier task than weeding! You can easily deadhead some flowers like petunias with just your fingers, but for tougher, larger flowers like roses, you’ll want a small pair of snips or shears. 

Pinch or cut off any spent flowers below the flower and above the first set of healthy leaves. Flowers with long stems can be cut just above the first set of healthy leaves. For tough stems you’re cutting with shears, snip them at a 45° angle to encourage proper healing. While you’re doing this, it’s also an excellent time to remove any dead, diseased, or damaged foliage. 

Avoid deadheading perennial shrubs and trees in the late summer and fall. Trimming them late in the season can accidentally trim new growth, which is where many species flower the following season.

Do you deadhead your flowers? Let us know why or why not on Facebook! Keep your flower gardening looking great this season with these deadheading tips.