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Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Follow-up on Collecting Flower Seeds from Purchased Annuals

Last week in the comments, Teresa was interested in photos of the seeds I'd saved from some annual flowers I'd purchased. I have to admit I goofed in that post and kept calling my marigolds, geraniums. My apologies. I've since fixed that mistake and now will provide some photos and information on petunia and marigold seed collecting. 

In spring of 2021 I bought some petunia and marigold plants for the pots around my house. I wanted to save some of the seeds from both of these plants. I had mentioned that I didn't know what I'd be looking for with the seeds when it was time to collect them, so I had to go online and search for images of what I'd be wanting.

The marigold seeds didn't really look like seeds to me. But it turns out that they are. 

photo source:

After the blooms had ended for the summer, I was left with what looked like dead flowers on the stems. I didn't cut the fading flowers off earlier because I wanted them to set seeds.  When I pulled these dead "blooms" apart, they broke into bunches of long narrow seeds. Each little narrow whole piece is a seed.

To plant the marigold seeds this spring, I covered them in a light layer of soil in a pot indoors (under lights), then kept them watered. The seeds took a couple of weeks to sprout. I don't remember exactly, but about 2 weeks. 

Within a month of sprouting, I had a mass of small plants growing in this one pot. 

Today, I now have blooms forming on several of the small plants. I'll be planting them out in pots in early May for blooms all summer.

With the petunia plants, again I wasn't sure what the seeds would look like, so I searched online for photos. 

photo source:

Petunias set seed pods at the base of where the petals had been attached to each bloom. At first, the seed pod is just a green protrusion, growing right out of that part of the flower, getting larger with each passing week. 

photo source:

When the pods are ready to harvest, they look like small, pointed paper-like balls. Each ball contains dozens of incredibly tiny seeds. If you don't physically harvest these seeds, the pods will burst open on their own and spread seeds themselves. 

the outer husks that once held petunia seeds

As I was transplanting some of the petunias I'd grown with collected seeds, I came across some parts of exploded seed pods.

I also came across this little guy poking his head out from under the pot.

To plant petunia seeds, I began indoors and under lights in March. I sprayed the top of soil-filled containers with water then pressed the seeds gently into the soil. I didn't add any soil on top of the seeds. I kept the seeds and soil damp until the seeds germinated, then began a regular watering schedule. 

You can also begin petunias outdoors after danger of frost has passed by pressing the seeds into the soil and keeping watered. With my pot of new petunias, I also added some seeds to the top of the soil after transplanting the seedlings. I did this to ensure I have a mix of colors that I want for blooming. Later in the season I'll thin these new seedlings to the best 3 or 4 plants per pot. We're still in our rainy season, so I expect these seeds will stay damp long enough to germinate.

I hope this gave you the information and visuals you were hoping for, Teresa.


  1. It's so exciting to see blooms from your seeds. I don't think that I live in a temperate enough region to sow petunia seeds in the ground and get results when I want them, but using your method to get them started would work.

    I love seeing toads. They are so cute!

    1. Hi Kris,
      I think my area is just on the cusp of whether or not starting petunias from seeds will give colorful blooms in time for summer. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, though.
      My little toad friend was just as surprised to see me as I was to see him. Very cute.

  2. I have found that marigold seeds are easy to save and plant. In some beds, I just scatter them in the fall and enough of them come up next year to use. They also start easily indoors as you did. I find petunias a little harder, but have had some success with their seeds, also. Last year and this year, I have been fortunate to receive extra petunia plants from a friend. Now if it would only get warm enough to plant them.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      Oh, that's interesting about scattering the marigolds in the fall. I may try that for this next year. Thank you for that tip! I hope it warms up soon for you to be able to plant out your gifted petunias.

    2. My husband plants marigolds around the garden to deter insects. I don't think they are supposed to work on bunnies, unfortunately.


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