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How to Collect Zinnia Seeds

Zinnia are annual flowers that produce brightly colored blooms suitable for garden beds or as cut flowers. Ranging from small dwarf varieties to giant zinnia, they bloom from mid-summer until the first frost. Many zinnia self-seed in the garden, but to ensure you have plenty growing next year you must continue to reseed them each spring. Collecting zinnia seed allows you to save money and continue to grow your favorite varieties year after year. Depending on the zinnia type, seeds range from the size of a sesame seed to large seeds the size of a shelled sunflower seed.

Let a flower head bloom and wilt naturally. Wait for the petals to drop off and the cone shaped seed head to mature.

Snap off the stem once the seed head and stem have dried, approximately one to two weeks after blooming. Seeds that are mature are either green or brown in color.

Lay mature seed heads in a single layer. Place in a well ventilated, warm room to finish drying for two weeks.

Break apart the seed head and remove the seeds. Pull large seeds out of the cone and separate as much excess plant material as possible from the smaller seed varieties.

Label an envelope with the type of zinnia and the year harvested. Place the seeds inside envelope, then store in a cool, dry place.

Collect Seeds From Zinnia Flowers

Whether you want to dabble with developing your own special strain of zinnias or simply save money at seed-buying time, saving viable seeds from the zinnia plants in your garden is quick and easy. Heirloom seeds, sometimes called heritage seeds, produce offspring true to parent plants -- the flowers you grow from heirloom seeds are similar. Stop deadheading zinnias at the end of the summer to allow the flowers to develop seeds. Leave the brown flowers on the plants so the seeds can ripen. Locate plump, bristly flower centers that remain on the stems. You may also simply roll dry seed heads gently between your fingers to loosen the seeds and let them fall into the container. Allow them to remain there for 1 to 4 weeks, or until the plant material is completely dry and crumbly. Mold-causing moisture can ruin seeds; complete air-drying is imperative. Remove the dried seeds from the dried flower heads by rolling or brushing them gently with your fingers. They often drop off on their own during air-drying.

Tip

Store seeds in the refrigerator. Place in a plastic bag or jar first to protect them from moisture in the fridge.

Zinnia seeds remain viable for one to two years after collecting.

Warning

Avoid storing seeds in a shed or other area where mice, insects and other pests may eat them.

Avoid saving seeds from hybrid zinnia varieties, as these seeds aren't true to the parent plant.

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