saving seeds: Cosmos

It’s the time of year where I can start saving seeds and I am super excited about it. While this is probably a tedious task for a lot of folks, I really enjoy it. It’s especially enjoyable with a plant like Cosmos, which has super easy to gather seeds that separate from the chaff with practically no effort.

My usual procedure is to take a pair of household shears and snip the dried seed head off the stem directly into a large envelope.

Front walk flowers

When I’ve gathered all the seed heads I can find, I gently crush the envelope between my hands so most of the seeds fall off the heads. Then I dump it out onto a piece of paper towel (a piece of plain white paper works well, too) and pick out the seeds.

Saving seeds - Cosmos

I place these into a smaller envelope and let them fully dry out (usually they are super dry by this point, but I like to make sure so that there’s no chance they’ll mold). When I’ve got all the seeds out, I dump the chaff into the compost and wait for more seed heads to dry out on the plant. It’s so easy! I’m hoping to plant cosmos in a few different places in the yard next year – they’re lovely by the front walk but they’re SO HUGE and really just a bit big for that area. You can see here that some of them are as tall as I am!

These cosmos have reached Anne height

This is just a bit overwhelming for a front walk, I think. I’m really hoping that these seeds I’m gathering allow me to create more pollinator-friendly areas next year!

Front walk flowers



As we get to the end of the blooming season for many perennials, I’ve been reading up on seed saving. I was excited to see Mr. BrownThumb’s post about direct sowing entire seedheads for purple coneflowers.

coneflower head

I’ll definitely be trying it this year! I have a lot of coneflowers and it will be very easy to plant the entire heads rather than extracting all the seeds. Since I am not counting on having a certain rate of return, it’ll be a low-risk experiment to see how they do.


The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds

The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds I haven’t done much seed-saving yet myself – just easy things like Allium and Marigolds. But this book has given me inspiration to try saving seeds for a TON of other things I’ve been growing. It also has a lot of great info on stratification and germination for a wide variety of plants – info that will come in handy for seed-starting this year. My post at CPL has more on this book.



I read something the other day about Pincushion Flower and that it will flower a lot longer if you deadhead it, so I decided to do that to mine. It’s been flowering a LOT this year and I’d love to keep it going.

As I was trimming the dried flower heads I thought – why not try to save some of these seeds?

pincushion flower seeds

The seeds look like little badminton birdies, and I saved a TON of them. They’re currently in an open tupperware tray, drying out as much as possible.

pincushion flower seeds

It looks like it’s possible to plant the seeds in the late summer or autumn, but that those plants may not be winter hardy. Sowing after the last frost in spring is more fail-safe. I may try starting some indoors next year. Has anyone out there planted Pincushion Flower from seed before?


Saving and Sharing Seeds

2009 veg seedsI haven’t saved very many of my own seeds yet, but I’m planning to do more of it in the future. I’ve inadvertently allowed tomato seeds to remain on the ground in the garden and had (lots of) tomato plants spring up in unexpected places, but saving the seeds inside is something I’m pretty new to. At the end of last season, I saved a bunch of perennial seeds and some marigold seeds, which I’ll give a go this year. Fingers crossed that they work! In the meantime, check out my post on seed libraries and seed saving over at CPL.