Gathering seeds from this year's garden to plant next year allows gardeners to begin their gardens earlier, assures them of quality flowers and cuts down on the gardening costs. However, not all flower seeds are good for gathering. Seeds from flowers that are hybrid or cross-pollinated are often sterile; even if they do germinate, they might not produce a similar plant. Collect seeds from heirloom or heritage flowers or from flowers that are native to your area.
Gather seeds from flowers that are healthy and had the fewest problems with disease or insects. Select a few flowers to harvest; don’t plan all of next year’s garden from seeds that are harvested this year.
Leave the seeds on the flowers until they have matured and the blossoms have faded. The color of seeds will change as they mature. Seeds will change from cream or white to shades of brown. If the plant produces a pod, the pod will dry and turn a dark brown.
Pick off the entire blossom to gather the seeds. If the blossoms or seeds are small, bend the blossom into a small paper bag to gather the seeds or catch any seeds that might fall.
Spread the blossoms on a paper towel or plate--or leave them in the paper bag--for several days to make sure the seeds are completely dry. While the seeds are drying, remove any chaff that falls off the blossom.
Pick the dried seeds from the flower and place in a paper envelope. Label the envelope with the year, flower’s name, color, size and planting requirements. If you own a gardening book with information on this flower, note the appropriate page on the envelope.
Put the envelope in a freezer for 2 days to kill any microscopic pests. After freezing, store the envelopes in a dark, cool, dry spot, like a refrigerator. Oregon State University recommends placing the envelope in an airtight jar in the refrigerator. To reduce moisture in the jar, OSU advises pouring ½ cup of dry powdered milk in the center of a small cloth, folding the cloth and placing it under the seed envelope to absorb moisture.