Collecting Wildflower Seeds

Every garden has a season.

Seeds grow. Flowers bloom. Flowers fade. Seeds dry.

Time to start collecting wildflower seeds for next year’s bloom! Over the years, I’ve tried just about every scenario on collecting seeds. I’ve let them fall wherever they choose, and the following year, my gardens are overrun with the more prolific, easily reseeded flowers. I’ve tried pulling the dried plants up, collecting a few seeds and piling the rest throughout the garden. Consequently my compost piles were barren and weak. I also didn’t like the effect of a million Oriental Poppies framed into one area. I’ve also forgotten to collect seeds or have left seeds collected out in the rain to be ruined……always irritating. I’ve also over- collected seeds and accidentally gave them all away with none left over for my own gardens. I’m sure there is a nice balance somewhere, but I have yet to find it….until this year. I am enjoying the quiet process of collecting the seeds, slowly and methodically. It is a nice change of pace for seed collecting.

I have been clipping seeds for about two weeks. This is the first year I have space for the seeds to finish drying. The chicken coops are now more potting sheds. I have bowls, buckets and plates of random various seeds….all unlabeled. I’m crossing my fingers I remember which bowl has the pink poppy or the pale blue larkspur. I have dried the various poppies, blanket flower and lots of little yellow unknown flowers. I started collecting Prarie White Rain Lily seeds, instead of letting them fall to the earth. In fact, I was bragging to my husband (famous last words) about how wonderful the Rain Lily seed pods looked. Unfortunately, that very night the deer came through and ate them all. Serves me right. Never brag or take credit for what the Lord makes bloom. 🙂

I have a few unusual wildflowers that I’ve started to grow and collect for the first time. Stork’s Bill and a wild Toad Flax. I’m in love with both of these flowers. The seeds for Stork’s Bill is so cool. The long “bill” opens up and produces a whirly type of spinning seed that hooks onto it’s new home. Cow Pen Daisy will be collected randomly throughout the summer, as it will continue to bloom throughout the season. Random plant fact…. cow Pen Daisy is a superstar pollinator for bees and butterflies. In fact, it was listed as the #1 pollinator for butterflies, including the Monarch. If you need some seed, be sure to let me know.

Another amazing (but very challenging) wildflower to collect seeds from is the White Prickly Poppy. My hands hurt just thinking about yesterday’s collecting session. I learned a lot though, which seems to heals my hand pain a bit. First, the seed pods are not prickly when they first appear. The pod will look very prickly, but it is soft to the touch. You can hold the pod, and cut the rest of the seed pod grouping on the stem. Second, I have learned that if you wait to save the seeds, the prickles will be unbearable so DON’T WAIT! I should’ve started last week, but I didn’t. So I got pricked. The third thing I learned is that the yellow gooey-sap that oozes out when slipping this poppy will indeed stain your jeans. I certainly wasn’t planning on that. White Prickly Poppies can be used for medicinal purposes, and is a wonderful early pollinator. Both fantastic reasons to grow this wildflower. Definitely collect the seeds early or your entire garden will be prickly.

I have stopped pulling the seasonal wildflower annuals or weeds. I’m simply cutting the seeds and either saving the good or trashing the bad. I’m letting the plant dry and decay in the soil. If you have read my blog from a while, you know the barren piece of earth I purchased for my music studio. I have thoroughly enjoyed the restoration process, whether it is pulling a bucket of stickers and thorns every day, to sifting endless rock out of the ground to literally digging up trash out of the earth. The barren land has finally brought forth a utopia of sandy soil, shaded beneath three incredibly old and majestic Live Oaks, which Heirloom Bulbs thrive in. Long story short, I am trying this new anti-pulling technique in hopes of creating moisture retention through the plant decay. I will let you know how things turn out in the summer months. I’m going to be composting over the plant debris, and add a nice layer of Vermiculture castings around the bulbs 🙂

Happy Gardening, my friends!