I LOVE Zinnias. My love affair with them goes back much further than just planting them here on our land. We always had Zinnias. My parents had Zinnias, my grandparents had Zinnias and as far as I know, their parents had Zinnias. We welcomed the time of year that we could start them and enjoy their beauty all summer and into late fall. Needless to say, my parents and grandparents saved Zinnia seeds from year to year (that’s just what you did back then) so several years ago when I planted the first Zinnias at our new homestead, I started saving the seeds. Seed saving has many benefits ranging from the $1.50 you’ll save every year, haha, to the more important fact that, over time, plants adapt to local conditions. Please check out http://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/stories/save-seeds-to-save-money-and-improve-your-garden for the whole story behind how plant generations adapt and optimize to soil over time. I’d do far worse trying to describe the biology behind this, they say it much better.
The last of the Zinnias for this year:
To save Zinnia seed (or other flower seed) I usually leave the spent flowers on the stems until they are dry, or pretty close to it. You will get much better flower production during the season if you immediately clip spent flowers, but I go somewhere in between to get the best of both. Once clipped, I store them for another month or two in a brown paper bag and then shake to loosen the seeds and other plant matter. The “other plant matter” in that mix are petal and leaf bits that I view as a helpful spreader when planting next year. Instead of systematically placing seeds, I can sprinkle the whole mix in the bed I want planted and feel reasonably certain they are well spaced because of the “other matter”. This is similar to what people do with very tiny seeds like carrot or celery. Below is the pic of packaged ones and partially dried ones, in a pretty keeper basin, that I’ve clipped but haven’t gotten around to yet. If you are saving during summer months, an excellent and quick way to dry them is to put them in a brown paper bag and leave them in a car that is sitting in the sun. This will do the trick in just an afternoon. However, when cool weather hits, it’s better to just bring them inside and wait for them to dry the slow way.