Collecting your own seeds is a great way to save some money and have some extra seeds in your library for trading with friends. Collecting local seeds also ensures that the future plant will be adapted to your region, as the mother plant passes on its genetics.

We’ve been collecting a bunch of seeds all fall so we can have even more flowers next year, and came up with a few tips and tricks for new seed collectors.

  1. Wait for the seed head to fully form.

It may seem obvious, but waiting for the flower to transform into a seed head is the most important part. Rarely are seeds able to fully ripen if picked too far in advance, and then they’ll be useless to you. It’s also important to note that flowers on individual plants may transform at different times, just like how flowers on one plant can bloom at different times.

2. Make Sure the Stalk and Seed Head are Dry

These Anise Hyssop Stalks are good and dry – ready for the seed to be harvested!

It’s not enough for the seed head to be fully formed. The best clue is looking at the stalk of the plant and whether or not it’s also turned brown or has died. If the stem is green right up to the seed head, chances are the seeds are not ready to be collected. When you pop the seed head off the plant and the chaff (the dried up part of the flower/seed head) falls apart in your hands, it’s definitely ready.

Anise Hyssop chaff – you can see some the seeds that have fallen out of it in the centre of my hand.

3. Dry the Seeds

Picking seeds on a dry day is important, as the excess moisture during storage will rot your seeds. However, even seeds that seem dry may not be fully dry. We like to spread ours out on newspaper for a few days to ensure no moisture is present during storage. If you’re not sure, put the seeds in the ziploc bag for a couple hours and see if any condensation fills the bag.

We use sandwich baggies, but you have to make sure the seeds are really, really dry first!

4. Store in A Cool, Dark, Dry place

Because we harvest so many seeds, we use large ziploc bags to store our seeds – this means we really need to make sure they’re dry, since their packaging doesn’t breathe. Smaller quantities can be stored in paper envelopes, which are allow any excess moisture to evaporate. Seeds like being stored in a cool, dark, dry place, and can be kept that way for years and still be viable. Just make sure to label each package so you know what you have!

We’ve left our baggies open to let out any extra moisture, and we made sure to label them!

And that’s it! Collecting your own seeds is a simple way to carry on the life of flowers and herbs you love, and save a little cash while you’re at it. Seed trading events are common in the spring, so you never know what you might be able to trade for!