Annual poppies

Once a plant’s growing cycle has come to an end, saving seeds from the pod gives you an economical way to fill out your garden next year, share with friends, or save an heirloom variety (like these poppies handed down via seed from my grandmother twenty years ago).


Poppy seed heads

1.     Annual poppy is an easy flower seed to harvest for first-timers since the tiny seeds are packed into a large seedpod.


Annual poppy seedpod

Cut the pods when they have turned a purple-brown hue and there are visible openings in the pod just below the crown.


Cut poppy seedpods

2.     Since these seed are tiny, I like to work over a plastic Ziploc container or similar.


Saving Poppy seeds

Tap the pods over the container to shake the seeds out. Leave the container uncovered for a few days to allow the seeds to dry. By the way, you can save the pods, too—they look great in fall floral arrangements.

3.     Fold a piece of paper in half and use it as a scoop and funnel to deposit a bunch of seeds in an envelope—glassine or homemade (which can be fashioned from brown craft paper that you simply fold and tape or even staple in place).

4.     Check that your new packet isn’t overcrowded, and then seal it.

5.     Don’t forget to label the packet with its contents! Seeds, especially smaller ones, can be hard to tell apart. When saving seeds, note on the packet when to sow and what light and soil requirements are needed for germination.

6.     Store in a cool, dry place until ready for planting the following year. (Poppy seeds should be scattered in late autumn or late winter since they like a bit of chill and grow best before summer’s heat. I’ve had poppy seeds germinate that were stored in a freezer for years. In future, I will keep my seeds in their own seed boxes.)

Other easy-to-harvest seeds:

  • Cleome
  • Columbine
  • Marigold
  • Morning Glory
  • Nasturtium
  • Purple Hyacinth Bean
  • Rose Campion


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