Fall is that time of year when gardeners begin the process of cleaning up the garden but also is the time when we begin to think of next year. One of the many things gardeners enjoy doing in the fall is saving seeds. Saving seeds allows us to continue to grow genetically diverse plants that have thrived in our during the previous season. Seedlings can range from being extremely close to the parent plant or can be quite different if they have been hybridized with another of the same species. It can be very exciting for home gardeners to experiment and see what comes up the following year!
How to Separate and Save Seeds from Echinacea (Coneflower)
This week I've been collecting seeds from various plants that have matured in our garden. One plant in particular that I've been collecting from are my coneflowers - Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea tennesseansis (The Tennessee Coneflower which is of course native to Tennessee). I've grown coneflowers for several years now and pretty much left them to their own designs but some of my plants have produced some very nice blooms. They have good coloring, nice sized blooms, or produce strong plants with a good form. When I find a plant that has some of these features I collect it to try and sustain the genes in my garden. I've also done a few hybridization experiments on my coneflowers the results of which really won't be known for a couple years but it requires that I save the seed from my coneflowers.
If you've spent any time around coneflowers you'll know that the seed heads produce very sharp pointed cones that make separating the seed very painful. I have a short video I put together on how I separate my coneflower seeds. It really isn't that hard if you know the trick!
After I've separated the seeds I put them in small coin envelopes like in the picture to the right. (Clicking on the picture will take you to Amazon.com) Be sure to label the envelope with the kind of seed you are saving with the botanical name, the date you collected it, and where your plant was located. That helps me to keep up with everything I need to know about the seeds.