Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Saving Petunia Seeds

"Wave" Petunias grown from seed

If you read my blog you will notice I have an affinity for seeds.  I love collecting them, storing them,  planting them and even trading them.  There is no greater satisfaction for me as a gardener than growing seeds from my own plants.  Another good reason to collect, save and grow your own is you control the chemicals your plants are exposed to.  Buy Petunias from any Big Box store and you are probably buying plants treated with pesticides or other harmful chemicals that are not good for you, your family or the environment.
Saving seed from most plants is easy-they don't require any special treatment or handling.  There are some that do, however.  Here is a post I did on collecting and saving some of those "special" seeds:  You will notice that most of the plants in that post are native woodland plants or ephemerals.  Those seeds do require special saving and handling but most of your common annuals, perennials and biennials don't require anything special.  You just pull them off, dry, clean, and store them until ready to plant-usually the following Spring.  This post will deal with Petunias-they are one of the easiest plants to collect seed from.  One note on seed collecting and growing: unless your plant is non-hybrid it may or may not come true from seed.  An example would be if you have "Purple Wave" Petunias.  You collect seed from those plants and then grow them.  You may or may not get purple.  I myself, have gotten a rainbow of colors when growing this hybrid.  If you are a stickler for color of your flowers then it is best to just buy the seed for the hybrid that you want.  Me, I am not.  I love all the colors and I just love surprises and that is what you get when you grow most plants from seed.  If you are like me and do not care then here is how you collect and save them:
1.  Find yourself a container to hold the seed pods:
Container to hold seed pods

2.  Find a Petunia you would like seeds from.  Look for a plant that is pest and disease free to ensure healthy seeds.  Also make sure there are spent flowers that indicate seed set:
"Wave" Petunias
3.  Locate the dried seed pod or capsule on the plant.  Look for seed pods that are brown and starting to split open.  For Petunias it looks like this:
Petunia seed pod

Petunia seed pod
4.  Snip off the seed pod with your fingernail or a pair of scissors:
Snip seed pod off with nail or scissors

Petunia seed pod
5.  If you want-pull off the green, sticky sepals (leaf like part attached to seed pod).  It is unnecessary to do this-they will dry out eventually.  Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't:-))
Petunia seed pod

Petunia seed pod
6.  Place in your container:
Collected Petunia seed pods
Collected Petunia seed pods
7.  You can leave them in the container (uncovered) for a couple weeks to dry out completely or you can transfer them to a paper plate to dry.  I think they dry faster on the plate.
Petunia seed pods on paper plate to dry
8.  When dry separate the seed from the seed pod.  I usually go through and crush the seed pods with my fingers to release the rest of the seeds:
Crush Petunia seed heads
Crushed Petunia seed head
Crushed Petunia seed pods
9.  After you have crushed all the seed pods you can either pick out all of the "chaffe" (debris) or get a fine sieve and pour the seeds through it onto another plate.
Clean seed with a fine mesh sieve

Clean seed with a fine mesh sieve

Clean seed with a fine mesh sieve
Cleaned Petunia seed
10.  Prepare a seed baggie (either plastic or paper) with the name of the plant and the year and pour the seeds into it and seal it.  Keep in a cool, dry, dark place until you are ready to use them (they do not need to be in the refrigerator!)  All done!  Now you have enough seeds for a thousand plants next year:-)) 
Cleaned Petunia seed

Saved Petunia seed
 So get out there and save some seeds! It is easy, free and fun:-))  You will get so much satisfaction growing plants from your own saved seed or sharing some of your seed with other gardeners.  It is what gardening is all about.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes on seeds:
"Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed.  Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders."
-  Henry David Thoreau

If you have any questions or comments about this post (or any post ) feel free to leave them.  So, until next time-Happy Gardening!  Rhonda