How to Harvest and Save Marigold Seeds
Replant Your Seeds for Fresh Flowers Next Spring
Marigolds are a mainstay in many gardens. They provide cheerful and abundant color all season long and are simple to grow from seed. If you learn how to harvest marigold seeds, you won't have to buy new plants or seeds for the next growing season. Harvesting and saving marigold seeds is quick and easy. You simply have to remove the seeds from the blooms and let them air dry before storing them over the winter. If you have an abundance of blooms, you can even make some seed packets to give away as gifts.
Note that if your marigolds are hybrid varieties, their seeds may produce plants that don't resemble the parent producing the seeds. Instead, they may revert to one of the original plants used to produce the hybridization. That's not a bad thing, as long as you don't mind unpredictable variation in your garden. If you want seeds that grow identical flowers to the parent plant, opt for heirloom/open-pollinated marigolds. Read on to find out how to harvest, store, and plant marigold seeds from your marigold flowers.
When to Harvest Marigold Seeds
It's crucial to wait for the right time to take seeds from marigolds. Plan to harvest the seeds when the petals are dry and the base of each bloom (the seed pod) is turning brown. Marigold seeds look like little pointy black and white slivers. These slivers are actually the marigold's fruits, called achenes, to which the seeds are attached. When the seeds are ready to be harvested, the achene will have a white end and a dark end. If the seeds are not ready to be harvested, the entire achene will be light in color. The dark end of the achene is the seed.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Basket or other container for harvesting blooms
- Writing utensil
- Marigold plants
- Paper towel(s)
- Paper envelope(s)
Carefully Open the Marigold Seed Head
Set a paper towel on a flat surface. Then, holding the base of each bloom, pull off and discard the petals and leaves. You will see long rods inside the heads called achenes. Each achene has a seed attached to it. Set the prepared blooms on your paper towel for now.
Remove the Marigold Seeds
Marigold seeds are attached to the long, slender, and pointed achenes. The achenes are dark on one end and light on the other and the actual seed is the darker end.
Take each bloom, and pull the seeds away from the base. Keep the achene in one piece—you do not need to pinch off or release the seed part. Then, discard the base. Separate the seeds (achenes), and spread them out on your paper towel.
Let the Seeds Dry
Place the paper towel out of direct light. Allow the marigold seeds to air dry uncovered on the paper towel for about a week. The seeds need to dry thoroughly, so they don't get moldy in storage.
Store the Seeds
Store marigold seeds over winter by placing them in a paper envelope. Don't place them in a plastic bag because that will retain any residual moisture, which can cause the seeds to go bad. Label the envelope, so you remember what's in it, and add the date harvested. If you have multiple marigold varieties, make sure to keep them separated when drying and use separate envelopes for their seeds unless you're not concerned about mixing plants. Store the envelope in a cool, dark, dry place.
Use the Seeds
Plant marigold seeds in your garden in the spring after your last frost date. For best results, seeds stored over winter should be used during the next growing season. While marigolds can tolerate some shade, it's best to plant them in full sun. Doing so will create more vibrant blooms.
Marigolds germinate quickly, so there's generally no need to start them indoors. However, if you do, you can transplant seedlings outdoors when they are about 2 inches high. If you sow the seeds directly in the ground outdoors, you may want to thin them after they sprout so that they are about 10 inches apart. Use scissors to cut down new shoots, as pulling them directly out of the ground could harm the root system of nearby seedlings.
At the end of the season, you can repeat the seed-storage process with your new marigold plants.