Harvesting zinnia seeds is a must if you want to keep your beautiful blooms going year after year! Learn how to harvest zinnia seeds so you can save, share, and grow incredible zinnia flowers all over again.
For me, the best part of saving zinnia seeds from the flowers we grow ourselves is the unknown of what the zinnia offspring will look like!
Different colors and blends may blossom to life within the next generation of zinnia flowers. Ombre tones or speckles and freckles may also present beautifully in new iterations of zinnias in the home garden.
Learning how to harvest zinnia seeds is easy, and it’s a task that even children may enjoy!
Depending on your zinnia seed harvest timing, you may find that you can even fit in a second planting before the growing season is through! How lovely it will be to see some of the daughter flowers in the same season!
I may be getting ahead of myself here, but I’m very passionate about growing zinnia flowers! I am betting you are too, since you’re interested in saving your own seeds!
It’s AMAZING and I’m so glad you’re here! Let’s get started on our plans to harvest zinnia seeds.
When can I harvest zinnia seeds?
Knowing when to collect zinnia seeds is important to ensure the seeds you save are viable. For best results, harvest zinnia seeds when the flower head is dry and brown. However, you may also wish to deadhead zinnias to encourage more plentiful blooms during the growing season. In this case, harvest viable “green seeds” from zinnias and just make sure there’s an embryo.
I found this thread very helpful for saving and germinating green zinnia seeds. I’m following ZenMan, who breeds his own zinnias.
That’s my next goal and I am hoping to try it this summer and fall if I can get my act together!
What do zinnia seeds look like?
Zinnia seeds look like little arrowheads. In most cases, zinnia flower seeds are a grayish color, but early harvest zinnia seeds may be green in color. Two types of zinnia seeds exist – those that come from the petals and those that come from the florets.
Pull a petal from a zinnia and you should see a zinnia seed attached to the petal. Floret seeds may no longer be attached to the pollen florets, but they once were.
Floret zinnia seeds tend to be more of a self-copy of the parent zinnia. Petal seeds take on different looks and leave lots of room for variations and hybridization between the two parent zinnias.
Often offering surprises, zinnia petal seeds allow recombination of genes. Recombination in zinnias breaks apart the DNA so that each offspring has potential for a different combination of traits from the maternal and paternal parents.
What are green zinnia seeds?
Green seeds are zinnia seeds that have not yet matured on the plant. Mature flower seeds generally come from brown and dried flower heads. You may find green zinnia seeds when plucking a single petal from a live zinnia flower. The seed coat is green and may or may not contain an embryo.
How can you tell if a green zinnia seed is viable?
To find out if a green zinnia seed is viable, first pinch the seed between your finger and thumbnail. If it feels hard, you may have a viable seed. Next, use your thumbnail to scratch at the seed coat very gently. A bit of the coating should scratch off. If you see a white “nut” inside, your seed has an embryo and this should indicate an excellent chance of germination.
Benefits of Saving Zinnia Seeds
As a backyard gardener or flower enthusiast, you can find so many benefits to saving zinnia seeds. Consider these great reasons to save your own seeds from zinnia flowers.
- Free Seeds for Planting Next Season – There’s nothing like keeping your seed storage containers stocked with seeds you’ve lovingly saved for next year.
- Next Gen Planting, Same Season – If your growing season is long enough, you can grow the next generation of your favorite zinnia flowers before frost arrives. Collect green seeds or try with dried zinnia seeds if you have enough time. Zinnias may bloom in as quickly as 6-8 weeks!
- Tons of Seeds to Share and Trade – Bring the beauty of your garden far beyond your own property lines. Share your saved zinnia seeds with friends, family and fellow gardeners for free or in seed swaps.
- Introduction to Breeding Zinnias – Saving your own zinnia seeds allows you to try your hand at creating zinnia hybrids in your own backyard. You can spend as little or as much time as you like on this new hobby!
- Great Sensory Activity for Kids – Even your favorite little ones will be well suited to help collect and harvest zinnia seeds from your gardens. The seeds are big enough and easy enough to handle that kids can really enjoy the wonder of seed collecting and seed saving.
How to Harvest Zinnia Seeds for Planting
Discovering how to collect and save zinnia seeds is easy once you merely get started!
Follow these simple steps to save zinnia seeds from the garden.
- Find and remove dried, brown zinnia flower heads. Choose a dry, sunny day when there’s been no recent rain.
- Place the flower heads in a brown bag to continue to dry if needed.
- Remove individual petals to reveal arrowhead-shaped seeds on the ends of the petals. Decide if you’ll keep the petals attached to help remember color, or gently separate and discard the petals to maximize your seed storage space.
- Break apart the entire zinnia seed head to reveal any other seeds that may be viable. You may also find the zinnia’s floret seeds inside the flower head. Save these, too, as they can also produce healthy flowers.
- Save the zinnia seeds in paper envelopes or small containers. If you’re breeding zinnias, you may wish to get a special container such as a diamond gem drills case.
- Consider a labeling system. If you’re breeding your own zinnias, you may wish to print out labels with photos of the parent zinnia from which you harvested your seeds.
- TIP: If you don’t have time, consider just saving some of the seed heads whole. Place them in a brown paper bag or paper prescription envelope until you’re ready to plant them!
Saving Zinnia Seeds for a New Season of Surprises!
Zinnias are one of my favorite flowers and one of the easiest to grow! They are drought-tolerant, produce many blooms, and thrive with little care.
You can grow zinnias for fresh-cut flowers or simply to make your gardens look amazing.
Once you have all those gorgeous zinnia blossoms, it’s time to start thinking about how to harvest zinnia seeds and save them for next season!
I find zinnias to be one of the easiest flower seeds to harvest and save. Even if you only have a few moments to spare, you can throw a couple dried zinnia flower heads into a paper bag for next year.
By the way, if you want to increase your zinnia flower production to truly prolific amounts of blooms, try deadheading zinnias. Removing the spent blooms allows the plant to focus on making more flowers.
(Of course, you only want to do this at times when you aren’t actively harvesting zinnia seeds for next time.)
Are you planning to save your own zinnia seeds this year? Be sure to share your favorite tips or ask any questions you may have in our comments below!
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By the way, if you liked this post, you might also enjoy our webstory on harvesting zinnia seeds.
10.06.22 – Updated to add link to webstory. Moved affiliate disclaimer to bottom and improved spacing.
10.20.22 – Updated to resize photos and replace pngs with jpgs. Added a few new photos of actual zinnia seeds. Removed redundant heading at ending H2.