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As I return to the world-wide web and all of its wonders, I’m also returning to my land and gathering seeds from the finest of the plants–ones that I will want to plant more of in the coming seasons.

Seeds collected today from my property

Seeds collected today from my property

How does one know which seeds are ready and how to store them?  These are questions that can be answered in general, but also with a unique answer for each plant type.  Confusing?  Well, yes and no.

The best answer is that Mother Nature lets you know when things are ready!  Plants and/or their seeds either dry up, drop from the plant, are blown in the wind, or as hikers and pet owners both know, are carried inside on humans and furry pets alike.

  • My Black-Eyed Susans have big dried seed-cones that I’m able to clip whole and store.
  • My Eastern Redbuds have bean pods that have dried and browned and are just starting to fall.  (These have gorgeous flowers in the Spring.)
  • And, although the Pin Oaks’ acorns are still green, they are falling to the ground, thus telling me that they are ready to be gathered as they will dry and brown within the week.  (Our squirrels bury their seeds rather than store them, losing most, so I’ll save these to give to them in winter!)
  • Without seeds, I still have baby Tulip Trees that have volunteered themselves in my flower beds.  I let them have their way in the flower beds this past summer and now, with just one growing season, they are 2-3 feet tall and ready to transplant once their leaves drop.
  • And don’t forget Hostas and spring/early summer bulb plants.  With fall comes the perfect time to move, divide and conquer many of these so that they will be in place and ready to grow as soon as nature commands in the Spring.

As for storage, everything has its own rules but nearly all require time to dry (lowering moisture) and storage in a cool, dry, dark place until ready for planting.  And while some say that the seeds must be in breathable containers (such as paper), others swear by their old habits of using sealed glass jars such as canning jars, or old mayo or pickle jars, or plastic zipper bags.

Gathered wildflower and tree seeds in Mason jars

Gathered wildflower and tree seeds in canning jars

I say to each his own.  If you’re worried about a particular seed, research it to find out if it has any special needs.  For example, my PawPaws have seeds, but they have extremely particular growing needs that are difficult to reproduce.  But regardless, don’t fret, take on the challenge to keep your favorites and enjoy the process as it plays out.

To see some of the plants listed above, visit my plant inventory page.

You can also visit Seed Savers Exchange for more information on the process and to gain access (via membership) to a seed exchange service.