How to Harvest Plant Seed

Overview

Collecting and saving the seeds from flowers and vegetables growing in your garden allows you to plant your favorite plant varieties each year without the expense of seed purchases. As trends come and go in gardening, you can also rest assured your favorite plants are available without the danger of a seed company no longer carrying them. When saving seeds, only save from nonhybrid plants. Be aware that some plants--including many squashes--cross pollinate, so only harvest from these plants if no other varieties are planted nearby.

Flower Seeds

Step 1

Allow the flower heads to mature fully and the petals begin to whither and fall away. Wait until the flower stem begins to dry on its own before picking.

Step 2

Cut off the flower head using sharp shears 2 to 4 inches down the stem or stalk. Bring the seed head inside.

Step 3

Place the seed head into a paper bag. Place in a warm, well-ventilated area to dry for two weeks.

Step 4

Separate the seeds from the head with your fingers. Alternately, shake the flower head inside the paper bag and let the dried seeds fall in.

Step 5

Place the seeds inside an envelope and seal. Label the envelope with the plant variety and year collected.

Fruit and Pod Seeds

Step 1

Allow the fruit or pods to ripen fully on the plant. Pick once fully ripe or when the seed pods begin to brown and the seeds rattle inside.

Step 2

Cut open the fruit or split open the pod. Remove the seeds and rinse off any pulp that is attached.

Step 3

Spread the seeds out on a paper towel in a single layer. Place in a warm, well-ventilated room to dry for an additional two weeks.

Step 4

Brush off any remaining dried pulp and place seeds in an envelope. Seal and label with plant variety and year harvested.

Tips and Warnings

  • If birds start eating the seeds, harvest before fully mature on the plant and hang in a warm, dry place for an additional two weeks. Moisture will cause seeds to rot or germinate prematurely. Always store in a dry area.

Things You'll Need

  • Shears
  • Paper bags
  • Envelopes
  • Knife
  • Paper towels

References

  • Ohio State University Extension
  • Oregon State University Extension
Keywords: harvesting plant seeds, seed saving, collecting garden seeds

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.