How to Harvest and Save Marigold Seeds

Orange marigold flowers and foliage

schnuddel / Getty Images

Overview
  • Working Time: 60 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner

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 save their 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 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 will produce plants that resemble one or the other of their parent plants. 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 marigolds.

Tip

Some marigold flowers are edible and can add a distinct flavor to salads. So if you get more blooms than you need for saving seeds, pick and eat the flowers while they're still tender (not dry).

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Basket or other container for harvesting blooms
  • Writing utensil

Materials

  • Marigold plants
  • Paper towel(s)
  • Paper envelope(s)

Instructions

  1. Wait for the Marigolds to Dry Before Harvesting

    It's crucial to wait for the right time to collect marigold seeds. Plan to harvest the seeds when the petals are dry and the base of each bloom (the seed pod) is turning brown. It's OK if 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.

    To harvest, simply remove each marigold flower head from its stem.

    Woman picking flowers in the garden
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  2. Carefully Open the Marigold Seed Pods

    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 the seeds inside attached to the base. Set the prepared blooms on your paper towel for now.

    Pulling petals off of a dried marigold flower head
    Martin Cameron / Getty Images
  3. Remove the Marigold Seeds

    Marigold seeds are long, slender, and pointed. They are dark on one end and light on the other.

    Take each bloom, and pull the seeds away from the base. Then, discard the base. Separate the seeds, and spread them out on your paper towel.

    Dried flowers from marigold
    Andy Crawford / Getty Images
  4. Let the Seeds Dry

    Allow the marigold 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.

    French marigold seeds
    Chris Burrows / Getty Images
  5. Store the Seeds

    Place the marigold seeds in a 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 the seeds to mold or rot. Label the envelope, so you remember what's in it. If you have multiple marigold varieties, use separate envelopes for their seeds unless you're not concerned about mixing plants. Store the envelope in a cool, dry place.

    Seeds in sealed and labelled paper envelopes
    Maarigard / Getty Images
  6. Use the Seeds

    Plant the 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. At the end of the season, you can repeat the seed-storage process with your new marigold plants.

    Orange marigold flowers and foliage
    schnuddel / Getty Images