collecting zinnia seeds

bettyfbAugust 17, 2011

I would like to know if the zinnia flower has to be totally brown before cutting it for seeds.


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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

well ... they have to be totally dry to store .. or they will rot or mildew ...

so why not dry them on the plant ....

are you in some hurry??? if so.. take what looks like the most mature.. and break it open.. and see if there are viable seeds in it.. if so.. then they can be harvested ...

if you are struggling with deadheading vs seed production .. then you need to rephrase your question .. otherwise we may spend all day talking about many other variables ....


    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 10:14AM
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I guess it was a dumb question. I was wondering if you could get seeds from cut flowers--not so. I am just leaving the flowers on until they turn brown. I love zinnias, and my Benary Giants this year are doing well.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 4:33PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

what i have seen done.. is peeps taking ruined nylons.. and putting them over a couple flowers... with a twist tie

and then doing what they want to the rest of the plant ... cutting them.. enjoying them.. etc ...

it does not have to be one or the other... either totally deadheaded.. or totally gone to seed ...

but one thing for sure... most cut flowers are cut.. at opening.. and very few will have the time to develop viable seed before they rot and you throw them out ...

the only dumb question.. is the unasked question.. or something like that... good to know your grey cells continue to function .... i figure.. once i quit asking questions.. they may as well put me in the compost pit ...


    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 4:08PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

You might enjoy reading some of the threads about zinnias on the seed saving forum.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 10:42PM
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"I would like to know if the zinnia flower has to be totally brown before cutting it for seeds."

Actually, no. You can save "green seeds" as long as they are "plump" with viable embryos inside. But, as Ken said, you need to dry them to store them. Sometimes I gather green seeds and plant them immediately to get a quick second generation of zinnias. (I breed zinnias as a hobby.) Because the outside of a green seed is still alive and impervious to water, you need to split the cover in some way to get quick germination. Otherwise it will take an extra week or two for the outside to die and become pervious to water.

However, if you dry your green seeds to use next season or next year, you don't need to worry about splitting the cover, because the dried cover will be dead and pervious.

"I was wondering if you could get seeds from cut flowers..."

Yes, it is possible to find viable green seeds in the zinnias that are being used as cut flowers. You can pull the petals and inspect the seeds.

With a little practice you can learn to see and feel which seeds have a baby zinnia embryo inside and which ones are "empty".

Incidentally, you don't necessarily have to cut a zinnia bloom to take green seeds from it. You can leave the zinnia bloom on the plant and pluck individual petals as their seeds "fatten up", working from the bottom of the bloom, and as the seeds develop, work your way up the bloom.

And with a little practice, you can spread the petals a bit and inspect the seeds while they are still attached, and pluck only those that you can see are "fat".

There are actually two significant advantages to saving your seeds at the green stage instead of waiting for the seedhead to get completely brown and dry. In wet weather, a brown seedhead is prone to pre-germination of the seeds in the seedhead, but on the otherhand, the seeds are still protected from water at the green stage. And, if you have seed-eating birds around, they can develop a taste for your zinnia seeds, so you should harvest your green seeds before the birds do.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 11:06PM
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Thanks ZM, that is very helpful and also for the pictures.


    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 2:36PM
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Linda's Garden z6 Utah

Hi, I'm glad you asked this question. I planted a bunch of different types of Zinnias this year and I have been thinking that maybe I should save the seeds for next year (I have never done this before) because I really like some of the ones I planted this year.

I am wondering if the seeds will be true to the parent plant or will I end up with something completely different?

The ones I want to save are:

Benary Giant
Candy Mix
Polar Bear
Zahara Starlight Rose

For instance if I save the seeds of a really cute peach colored candy mix zinnia, will they also be peach color or could they be any color?

I'm sure some of you knowledgable people know more about this than I do. Thanks for your input.


    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 9:54PM
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The Zahara Starlight Rose won't cross with your other zinnias, so they should come very true from seed.

Zinnias are insect pollinated (by several kinds of bees) and some natural cross pollination can occur. Your peach colored Candy Mix should produce mostly peach colored progeny, but you could get some variation. You might like some of the variants. Your Polar Bears may produce a few non-white surprises, courtesy of F1 hybrids made with it by the bees. But you should get some white selfs from them as well. Good luck with your saved zinnia seeds.


    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 11:38PM
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I collected seeds in the fall and stored them open air in a glass vase on my screened in portch. It was a very mild winter. Most of the seeds are silver now-completely dried but I watched a youtube video that implied white to silver seeds are dead. True or not true if true why did they become that way they were picked dried?

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 12:55PM
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Hi babelsrus,

I don't know if your white-to-silver zinnia seeds are dead. Storage on the screened porch was not the best idea, because relative humidities could have been fairly high part of the time (like when it rained or snowed outside). The white/silver color is probably a mold of some kind. That could have killed the seeds, depending on what kind of mold it was, but I would plant them anyway, based on the possibility that the mold merely affected the seed coat.


    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 4:36PM
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