Seed saving

Saving wildflower seeds is easy!

All you need to do is follow these five simple steps.

Safety first: Always wash your hands after handling plants and seeds. Do not package your seeds in any container that might make people think the seeds are edible.

Step 1: Identify your flowers

Before you gather seeds from your flowers it’s a good idea to know which flowers you’re gathering the seeds from. This way, when you sow the gathered seeds you’ll know what to look out for when they grow. Or, if you’re going to be sharing your seeds with a friend, relative or neighbour, you can tell them what’s in the mix.

If you haven’t already, go to our Wildflower gallery, which should help you identify them.

Step 2: Timing is key

It’s important to harvest your seeds at the right time, but this isn’t complicated or difficult. Remember, a flower will naturally drop its seeds when it’s ready, so the best way to tell if the seeds are ready to be harvested is to feel the flower head carefully with your hand. If the seeds easily fall away, this means they’re ready. With a flower like a poppy where the seeds are stored inside the head, you will be able to hear the seeds rattling loosely inside when they’re ready.

Step 3: Harvest the seeds

You can sometimes pick or strip individual seeds from the flower head with your hand, but the easiest way to harvest your seeds is often to just cut off the whole flower head. Cut off the flower head very carefully with scissors or secateurs. Adults help children with this part! And that’s it, you can move onto the next step!

If you want your wildflower space to reseed naturally, don’t take all the flower heads! Harvest about one head in five to ensure there are enough seeds left to reseed the area. These will fall off naturally, but you can help things along when you cut your space down by letting the cut stems sit on the ground for a few days, and then giving them a shake as you tidy them away.

Step 4: Dry the seeds

Spread the flower heads out on newspaper and leave in a cool, dry, airy place to allow the seeds to fully dry. You’ll know the flower heads are dry enough when they feel dry and crumbly to the touch.

Don’t put your seeds in an airing cupboard to dry! This will be far too warm and will damage the seeds.

When the seeds and flower heads are all dried out, you can release the seeds by gently crushing the flower heads. Gently shaking the crushed material in a jar or other container should cause the seeds to fall to the bottom, allowing you to remove any small pieces of dried up plant or flower from the top. But don’t worry about getting the seeds completely clean! This would be a fiddly process and isn’t necessary. The seeds will grow just as well with other pieces of organic matter mixed in.

Step 5: Store the seeds

Store your seeds in a cool, dry place – the fridge is good, but be very careful the seeds don’t get mistaken for food!

If you don’t have a cotton bag, you can use a normal paper envelope. Never store your seeds in plastic because this can cause condensation to form which will make the seeds damp and mouldy.

Now you‘re ready to share your seeds! 

As long as you keep the seeds in a cool, dry, and airy place they should last for one year. But the sooner you can sow your seeds, the better.

Check out this video of Hannah Grows as she shows you how to save your seeds...

If you want to sow your seeds into a container, check out this video.

Happy harvesting and sowing! Don’t forget to share pictures of your harvested seeds on TwitterFacebook or Instagram