TGT: Saving Seeds and Cuttings

Saving seeds and cuttings in the fall is one additional way you can save a few bucks for the next gardening season. In the fall, plants produce their final batch of seeds and the thrifty gardener can take advantage of this! Seeds in general aren't very expensive. You can find all sorts of mail order seed places and find a great variety of seeds but when you purchase lots of seeds the price can add up! Sometimes you can save interesting seeds that you may not be able to find in stores, or even hybridized seeds from plants in your landscape.

Here's what I do when I save seeds:
  1. Collect the seeds in a container or bag that allows air to circulate.
  2. Let the seeds dry out for a few days. This prevents mildew and mold from forming.
  3. Put the seeds in a container. I'll be using baby food jars. They are perfect for storing small to moderate amounts of seeds and we have them in plentiful supply around our house! I plan to be very organized with it this year and place a label on each jar as I go with the type of seed, the year I collected it, and maybe even where I got the seed. Some seeds will remain viable for several years while others only one or two. If you have any packets of silica gel save them and toss them in to help keep the seeds dry over the winter.

I mentioned before that you can store seeds of any hybrids you may have made. This summer I tried an experiment in hybridization with our hostas.

I let my hostas go to flower. Then I took the stamen from a 'Patriot' hosta and touched it to several pistols on our 'Ginko Craig' hosta. I have absolutely no clue what they will become, if anything, but I'm excited to find out! A couple days ago I went and picked the pods from the 'Ginko Craig' hostas and popped one open. The pods were just beginning to brown which is usually when the seeds become viable.

Sure enough there were mature black seeds ready for planting or saving. There were quite a few seeds inside of each pod and there were even seeds that had begun rooting!

I planted a few seeds to grow inside the house over the fall and winter and the rest I'll save until midwinter and start indoors. The obsessive gardener gardens even in winter!

Another great money saving technique that I talked about last week was by propagating through cuttings. This is particularly useful in the fall with tender perennials that are usually treated as annuals like coleus.

Coleus is a breeze to propagate in a glass of water and can be grown as houseplants. Just take a few cuttings from your plants before the night time temperatures do damage to your coleus plants. Drop them in a jar and wait for them to root. Then pot them up in a nice decorative pot of your choice and grow them as houseplants. They may get leggy due to diminished light levels but all you need to do is pinch them back periodically, or better yet take more cuttings!

You may want to just purchase plants at the beginning of each season but I've found that the stores don't always carry the same variety year after year. By saving those tender perennials I can bring back what I had last season and replace it where it once was, or find a new home for the plant. I did this last season with some "annual" verbena (tender perennial here in TN) and it has come back nicely this year!

Well, it's time to go take some tender perennial cuttings and collect that seed!

Here's what's on my seed collecting agenda:
Gaillardia 'Oranges & Lemons', Zinnia, Rudbeckia, Coneflower, Salvia, Russian Sage, and anything else I run across!

Look here for other Thrifty Gardening Tips:

Part 1: Buying and Saving Discount Discount Plants
Part 1 Follow Up: Buying and Saving Discount Plants
Part 2: The Generosity of Gardeners
Part 3: Save Gas, Only Mow Where You Go
Part 4: Think Small Plants
Part 5: Make Compost
Part 6: Making a List
Part 7: Know Thy Landscape
Part 8: A Two Season Trick
Part 9: Plant Propagation
Part 10: Divide and Conquer
Part 11: Layering Shrubs, Trees, and Perennials
Part 12: Plant Propagation by Cuttings

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