How to collect and save flower seeds
Collecting and growing seed is a cheap way to get new plants. It’s also easier than you might think and few activities bring more pleasure than raising your own flowers at home.
The key to seed saving is to emulate nature as far as possible. Collect your seeds just before the plant is about to shed them. This doesn't involve hanging around decaying plants and waiting for seed heads to pop, but just keeping an eye on things.
As the plant begins to dry and turn brown, the seeds will be ripening so you should place a paper bag over the top of a flower head, cut the stem and invert the whole thing.
Tie the bag at the top before putting it somewhere to dry – hung from a the roof of a garage with good ventilation, for example. Check the bag after a few weeks and you should find seeds in the bottom of the bag. If not, you can give them a helping hand by rubbing or shaking the seeds out of the dry pods or seed heads.
Seeds of many plants are best sown in autumn as they need a cold winter to stimulate germination in spring. If you’re storing the seed for next spring, store them in an air-tight (and rodent-proof) container in a cool, dry place.
For trees and shrubs with berries, collect them when they're at their ripest, just before the birds get at them. It's best to cut open each berry and remove the hard seeds, sowing them in pots left outside for the winter. Your seeds should germinate the following spring.