Multiply Your Stock of Plants: Collect Seeds

There are some annuals in my garden that I just want more of, or I want to be able to give away to friends, so I make a point of collecting seeds as often as I can. But in many cases here in balmy Metro Vancouver, I don’t have to do the work, the plants do it for me.

Some annuals and biennials act like perennials. For example Foxglove and Sweet William are biennials, which means they have a two year cycle and then die. After they flower, they set seed, which falls to the ground. Next spring the seed germinates, and puts on herbaceous (green) growth, goes dormant in the fall. The second growing year puts on floriferous (flowering) growth. Then sets seed and dies. If the weather is favourable, and if they fall early enough, they may set seed, fall, germinate and start their first year of growth the same summer, then produce flowers the next year, their second year. So you had flowers this year, and you’ll have flowers next year.  Biennials, but they act like perennials.



Foxglove setting seed

Foxglove setting seed, still completely green, these won’t be ready for at least another month.

Then there’s snapdragons or larkspur. They’re annuals, but they set seed so well, and disperse if so effectively, they’ll grow more next year close by, and probably grow more than you had this year.

Snapdragon seed heads, not ripe yet.

Snapdragon seed heads, not ripe yet.

Seed head open, and black seeds visible.Columbine seed head open, and black seeds visible.

If you want to be sure to increase your stock, collect the seeds yourself, so you’ll get them before the chickadees do. You can either sow them right away, or save them in an airtight envelope in a cool place (fridge would do, not freezer) over the winter and sow in spring. You can even “winter sow” them–in containers, left outside in a secure area away form the racoons and the strong winter winds– and see them come up all nice and safe and prolific in the spring.

Want help figuring out how to collect seeds, or what to do with them once you do? Post a comment or question. Follow this blog to get more, or follow our Facebook page.