Echinacea, also known as a coneflower, is a beautiful ornamental flower that attracts butterflies and birds. As a plant, it is also sought for its medicinal uses, which, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, range from boosting the immune system and fighting the common cold, to soothing sore throats as a tea. Echinacea can grow up to 5 feet in height and does well as a border flower. If you currently have some echinacea and would like to spread the beauty around your yard, you can harvest and save seeds from your current plants. While there are many more complicated methods of harvesting and saving echinacea seed, there is one that is simple and effective.
Stop watering your echinacea flowers when they begin dropping petals. This will help the seed heads to dry faster.
Allow the seed heads to dry on the stalk for at least a week after the plant has begun losing its petals. Keep an eye on the plants, as finches can strip the seed heads of all seed within days.
Cut the seed heads off the plant with at least 12 inches of plant stem. Use scissors and cut straight across or at an angle.
Turn the heads upside down into a paper bag. You can fit approximately three heads to a small, brown lunch bag.
Seal the bag with a string, so it stays on the seed heads.
Hang the bag with the seed heads upside down in a dry location for a week. Shake the stems every day to help loosen the seeds.
Take down the seed heads after seven days, and empty the seeds onto a newspaper or paper towel. Carefully break the seed heads open to loosen any remaining seeds. Leave the seeds on the towel to dry for 10 to 14 days.
Transfer the dry seeds to a paper envelope, and store the paper envelope in a plastic bag in the refrigerator or a cool, dark place. Echinacea seeds can be stored for up to three years.
Things You Will Need
- Lunch-size paper bags
- Paper towels or newspaper
- Paper envelope
- Plastic bag
- Echinacea seeds can only be harvested from plants that are two years old or older.
- Make sure your seeds are thoroughly dry before placing them in storage, as any excess moisture can cause them to mold and rot.
- Never try to self-medicate with homemade echinacea concoctions, as it can cause serious side effects if you have an allergy or are on any medications.