A Guide on Collecting and Preserving Zinnia Seeds

Zinnias produce a lot of seeds per plant, so you don’t need to buy any nursery plants or purchase seeds if you want to continue growing zinnias. You don’t need to buy seeds or nursery plants to keep growing zinnias because they produce so many seeds. If you have a lot of seeds, consider giving them away as gifts.

Open-Pollinated Vs. Hybrid
It’s important to determine whether you have hybrids or open-pollinated zinnias before you start. Hybrid seeds are not true to their parent plants. If you like a particular attribute of zinnias such as double flowers or a special color, you may be disappointed with the hybrid offspring. Open-pollinated seeds, however, will produce plants that are true to their parent. It is therefore a good idea to collect those seeds.

Open-pollinated zinnias will look like the parent plants that they are derived from.

Green Envy
Cactus Bright Jewels
Canary Bird
Candy Cane
California Giant
State Fair Mix
Cut n Come Again
Red Spider
Jazzy Mix

Before You Start
If you want your seeds to remain pure, it is important that you plan ahead. Insects can cross-pollinate zinnias of different varieties. Plant one variety every half-mile if you have lots of space. This is not possible for most people. To prevent accidental pollination, you can bag or cage several flowers buds before they blossom. Keep the bag on the flower until it has finished blooming.

Waiting for the dried flowers on your plants will be unsightly, but it is necessary to allow the seeds to mature. Select healthy plants. Powdery mildew, for example, can be transferred to seeds. Don’t save seeds of plants that have the disease. You will only need to save a few flowers’ worth of seed to be able to plant next year. The rest of the blooms can be removed before they become unsightly. If you have a big garden bed, it is possible to choose plants that are not near the edges of the bed. This will make the dried flowers less visible.

Drying zinnia flowers
Teresa Lett / Getty Images
How to Plant Zinnia seeds
What you’ll need
Equipment and Tools
Basket or other container to harvest flowers
Drying screen
Pruners (optional)
Writing utensil
Zinnia plants
Paper Towels
Paper plates
Glass Jar with Lid
Zinnia flowers should be harvested after they have dried.
Let the flower heads dry on the plant. When the flower is ready for harvesting, it will be dark brown in color and dry. If you harvest the flower too soon, it will produce immature seeds which won’t germinate.

Cut or pull the dried zinnias off the plant. Keep varieties separate and labeled, unless you want a mixed mix of surprises.

Place the seed heads so they can dry on all sides. It may take a week to dry the seeds, depending on their moisture and size.

If you water the flower bed, the seeds will take longer to dry.

Zinnias dried and ready for seed harvest

Release Zinnia Seeds
Spread some paper towel over a flat, clean surface to collect the seeds. Put a paperplate on the surface and write the name of the variety directly on the plate.

The seeds are released by “flailing” the seedhead of a dried zinnia. You can either hit it lightly to release them, or you can pull it apart and rub it between your fingertips over a paper plate. The seeds are arrow-shaped and small. Some seeds may still be attached at the base of the petal. Pull the seed gently off if that is the case. Repeat the process for all dried flowers. Discard the petals, and keep only the seeds. Separate the different varieties.

Extracting seeds from dried zinnias
Let the seeds dry
Spread the seeds out and allow them to air dry for a couple of days. This will prevent them from molding or rotting in storage.

Spreading the seeds to dry
Zinnia Seeds: How to Store them
Once the seeds are dry, store them in an envelope or bag made of paper. Use separate envelopes if you have more than one zinnia variety, unless you want to mix them up in your garden. Label each envelope to help you remember the contents.

Store the seed envelopes in a glass jar with a lid and in a cool place, away from direct sunlight. The closet is the best place to store your seeds. You can start your seeds outside once the danger of frost is over for the following growing season.

Use your seeds as soon as possible for best results.