We have a very short growing season here, and if I followed the usual instructions to wait to collect seed pods until they are brown and dry, I would still be waiting when the seed pods were destroyed by the first killing frost. Luckily, many pods that are still “green” will contain mature, viable seeds, and these seed pods can be harvested and successfully dried in the house.
There are many methods of drying seed pods, but there is one easy method that works great for me. I have found that the bottom shelves of two corner cupboards in my dining room… and the various small cups and dishes that are normally stored there… make a wonderful out-of-sight place for drying the green seed pods. I spread out the pods, one type to each small dish, and close the doors and forget them. When the pods and seeds are completely dry… usually after two to three months… I package the seeds in small labeled envelopes and store them in a big glass jar in the freezer.
I have grown plants from seeds that were stored in the freezer for years (sometimes more than ten years), and the germination rate is almost always astonishingly high. I have also found that the seeds I save from my own gardens always have a much higher germination rate than any seed that I purchase.
Over the last several years I have mostly only been saving seeds from a few special plants.
The hosta seed in the dish on the right is from a very yellow, very rippled hosta. Each year I save a few seeds from that year’s most yellow and most rippled hosta, and the resulting new seedlings are becoming more and more yellow and more and more rippled.
The other rectangular dish holds seeds from an unusually large wild black-eyed Susan. I have saved and planted a few seeds from the plant with the largest flowers every year, and I now have wild black-eyed Susans with flowers that are as large as cultivated daisies.
I have started to try to enlarge the flower size of a wild white daisy, and the seeds in the octagonal dish are from this plant.
The poppy seeds in the oval dish are from an old strain of poppy… I just want to start new plants in a different part of the garden.