Carnations are appealing flowers that can brighten and energize anyone's garden. And for the frugal gardener on a budget, one crop of carnations can offer plenty of seeds to make certain the following year you won't have to buy them. Saving seeds also ensures you will have the same strain of lovely flowers you worked so hard to cultivate. Just follow a few simple steps, and you'll be on your way.
Allow the carnations to die naturally at the end of the current season. As they begin to wither, the flowers will produce seed pod, which can be harvested once they are allowed to dry out and brown a bit. (Note: This process does not work with pre-cut, store bought flowers.)
Protect the seed pods while you're waiting for them to dry out for harvesting. It may be necessary to take certain steps--such as netting them off or transplanting the flowers to a protected environment--to ensure the seed pods are not harmed or destroyed by things hungry birds, bad weather or early season cold snaps while you wait for them to dry out enough to be harvested.
Hold a dry, clean container beneath the carnation blooms to catch the seed pods as you carefully break them away from the stem. Putting the the container beneath the blooms will keep any stray seeds from being lost. Label the container once collection is complete.
Place the carnation seed pods in a dry place with good ventilation so they dry out completely. Be sure the container in is well-protected from potential hazards, such as wind, wet weather and vermin. If seeds don't dry completely, they can rot or mold between seasons.
Strain the carnation seed pods through a fine-meshed screened sieve over a piece of clean white paper once the seeds are completely dry. Gently pressing the seed pods through the mesh will screen out the pods and chaff, while allowing the seeds, which will look like little black chips, to fall through onto the paper.
Store the seeds for the following season. This can be done in paper envelopes if they are stored in a cool, dry place. Label each envelope properly prior to storage.