How to Harvest Marigold Seeds and Save Them

Plant free marigolds in your garden next year

Flowering plants growing against residential building in village
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Marigolds are a mainstay in many summer gardens and patio containers. They provide cheerful and abundant color all season long and last until the first frost. And they are simple to grow. If you learn how to save their seeds, you won't have to buy new plants or seeds next year. Saving marigold seeds is easy. Here's how to do it and some a few things to consider. 

If you want to grow the exact same flowers from seeds, you should save seeds from heirloom open-pollinated plants. These seeds...MORE will breed true the next year. But the marigolds you have might be hybrids, which are developed through cross-breeding. Their seeds will produce plants that resemble one or the other of their parent plants. The results will be unpredictable. That's not a bad thing, so long as you know you won't have carbon copies. If you don't mind variation, it's fine to save hybrid seeds for flowers.

You will only need a paper towel to lay out the seeds for drying, paper envelopes to save seeds, and a cool, dark place to store them over the winter until you are ready to plant them.

  • 01 of 06

    Collect Dried Marigolds

    Dried Marigolds

    Erin Huffstetler

    As your marigold plants begin to dry out, wait for the right time to collect the seeds. It's best to harvest the seeds when the petals are brown and dried out, and the base (the seed pod) is turning brown. You can harvest the seeds while there is still a little green left on the base. If you wait until it is completely brown, it might have started to rot or mold.

  • 02 of 06

    Carefully Open Marigold Seed Pods

    Marigold Seed Pods

    Erin Huffstetler

    Remove the dried marigold flower head from the stem. Lay out a sheet of paper towel. Hold the base and pull off and discard the dried petals and leaves. You will see the slender, pointy, two-colored seeds inside attached to the base.

  • 03 of 06

    Remove Marigold Seeds

    Marigold Seeds

    Erin Huffstetler

    Marigold seeds are long, slender, sharp, and pointy, dark-colored on one end and light-colored on the other. Pull them away from the base and discard the base. Separate them and spread them on a paper towel.

  • 04 of 06

    Let the Seeds Dry

    Drying Marigold Seeds

    Erin Huffstetler

    Allow your seeds to air dry uncovered on the paper towel for about a week. This will preserve them so they don't mold or rot in storage.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Store the Seeds

    Seeds in sealed and labelled paper envelopes stored in plastic box

    Maarigard/Getty Images

    Place your seeds in a plain paper envelope to store over the winter. Don't place them in a plastic bag because that will retain any residual moisture, which can cause them to mold or rot. Store the envelope in a cool, dry place.

  • 06 of 06

    A Few Things to Consider

    Tagetes patula

    inyucho/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    For the best results, seeds should be used during the next growing season.

    Marigolds are a favorite garden plant because they are easy to grow, hearty, and forgiving. They are often planted to keep pests away from other plants naturally. You can eat some species in salads, so if you get more than you need for seeds, eat them while they are still tender.