Zinnias!! Probably the first flower you think of when you hear flower gardens. I know for me they are one of my favorite flowers and I have already started planning what varieties will I grow next spring. Zinnias are definitely the workhorse in a cutting garden and lucky for us they are also one of the easiest flowers to harvest and save seeds from. Today we’re gonna head out in the garden and we are going to harvest some zinnia seeds, that way we don’t have to buy any next year.
To harvest zinnia seeds you want to wait until the flower is completely dry on the stem. Once the flower head is completely dry you can cat it from the stem and start pulling the seeds from the flower head. Let the seeds dry on paper towels for about a week to make sure they are completely dry. Then store them in a paper bag or labeled envelope. The seeds will be ready to plant next year.
As a reminder, not all seeds will be viable seed and their germination rate might not be as high as seeds purchased from seed catalogs. So if you are planting your own saved seeds it’s always a good idea to plant a few extras to make sure you get enough seedlings.
Now let’s dive into some more details about saving zinnia seeds; what to consider before saving, supplies you need and some tips to ensure that you are successful.
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Open-Pollinated Vs. Hybrid
Before you begin, it’s important to know whether your zinnias are open-pollinated plants or hybrid flowers. Seeds from hybrid plants typically do not come true to the parent plant, so if you love a specific attribute of the zinnia, such as its double flowers or special colorings, you might be disappointed by the offspring of hybrid zinnias. Seeds from open-pollinated plants, though, will grow true to the parent plant, so it makes sense to harvest those seeds.
I’m so excited that you guys are here today to harvest some zinnia seeds with us before we head out into the garden let’s make sure we have all of our supplies so we’re not running around like a crazy person.
Harvesting Zinnia Seeds
When you are harvesting zinnia seeds you want to make sure that you let the beautiful flower completely dry on the plant. If you cut the flower too soon you’re going to have immature seeds that will not germinate. I suggest picking a dry day in late summer before a few weeks before the danger of frost.
When choosing what zinnia seed heads to cut, any that still have some color are not going to be dry enough, so skip over them. You want to cut the flower heads that are completely dry and start to crumble in your hand. Some might have even lost all of their petals. To ensure that you get the best flowers pick plants that were good performers and free of disease (ie powdery mildew).
Just a reminder, you want the flower heads (which contain all the seeds) to completely dry on the plant. If they are not left to dry on the plant the seeds will be immature and will likely not germinate when planted.
Once you have cut the flower heads start pulling all of the seeds out and laying them on the drying rack in a single layer. Let them dry on the rack for a week.
I want to mention that when you are taking your flowers apart and you’re harvesting the seeds if keeping the variety of zinnias separated is really important to you make sure that you are using different drying racks and make sure that you are labeling everything so you don’t get anything mixed up. The seeds are going to look very much alike.
We really don’t care if they’re all mixed up. I love experimenting and I love seeing what grows from the seeds, So I put everything on the same tray. That being said I love trying new varieties of really anything so let me know your favorite zinnia variety. Send me a DM on Instagram or comment below.
After letting your Zinnia seeds dry on a mesh rack for about a week, go through and pick out all of the seeds, placing them on the paper towel. Let them sit for another day or two. We want to make sure they are DRY before we put them away.
How to Save Zinnia Seeds
Once the seeds are completely dry, put them in their envelope and store them for winter. I love making paper seed envelopes. I print them, cut them out, and tape them. You can get them for FREE as part of our simple farmhouse living resource library.
You can also use paper bags but I do not suggest plastic bags because they can trap moisture and cause your seeds to mold.
On the front, there’s a spot for the variety so if you are separating your zinnia seeds by the different varieties you can document it. There is also a place for you to write the date that they are collected so that you remember. The black is completely empty if you want to write any notes about the seeds.
Once you have your envelope transfer your zinnia seeds to the envelope. And add the flower seeds to your seed collection and store in a cool dry place.
Your seeds will last for a couple of years if stored in a cool, dark place. We keep all of our seeds in photo storage boxes in the closet. Check out how we store seeds HERE.
For best results, aim to use your new seed within 3 to 5 years.
Join the Resource Library for the FREE Seed Saving Envelopes
What do viable zinnia seeds look like?
The seeds will be little arrowheads shaped, pointed on one end and broader on the other, each having a raised spine running up its back. They will measure about 3/8 to 1/2 inch long, if harvested from medium-sized zinnias, and usually slightly less than 1/4 inch across at their widest point and brownish in color.
Do zinnias reseed themselves?
Zinnias (Zinnia spp.) reseed easily, creating a cut-and-come-again garden each summer, says the University of Wisconsin Extension. Heirloom varieties, cultivated for more than 50 years, are open-pollinated and grow into plants identical to their parents.
If you use our FREE printable seed envelopes they fit in photo storage boxes with all of your other seed packs, ready for next year’s garden. Zinnia are great cut flowers and produce enough seeds for years and years. They are also one of the easiest seed to harvest and a great seed to start with when you are looking to get into the world of seed saving.
Learn the first step to starting a cut flower garden HERE!!