I want to save my own seeds for Winter Sowing....how do I do it?
Hibiscus Seed Capsules
Seed saving is a lot of fun and it's easy to do!
This is how I do it....and these are general and universal instructions. Mother Nature is pretty easy to figure out if we keep with the idea that SHE needs to keep it simple too.
Take a good look at a flower. When the flower fades leave it where it is, do not remove it. Eventually at the base of the flower there will be some swelling. This is where the seeds are forming. Do keep the petals where they are and let them fall naturally...I don't touch it or bother it, I just leave it be.
The base of the flower will swell even more and soon you'll notice that the flower stem and the swollen base are turning a papery-brown. This is a very good indication that the seeds are almost fully ripe....in effect the plant has achieved it's goal of reproduction for that flower...it has produced viable seeds and no longer needs to expend energy to keep it alive, so it doesn't sends it's sugars and water up to the stem anymore. That's why it's turning papery-brown. It's no longer being supplied with nutrients and so it's dying back.
The drying action will continue and as the swollen pod continues to dry you will see it start to open....some pods will open in a starry design, plants like poppies create a ridge of tiny little circles near the top of the pod....they make themselves into something like a little "salt-shaker" (sorta...but you could imagine it.) All flower pods will open in some manner when the seeds are ripe....it's so they can disperse their seeds. When you see that the pods and stems are both brownish in color, AND you notice that the pods are starting to open you can then collect the pods.
I place the pods on an open plate or in open bowls in a safe place where they won't be disturbed and let them continue to dry naturally for another week or two. Then I remove the seeds from them. To assure that the seeds are thoroughly dry I let them dry on an open plate for a few more days...I even will stir them every now and then to make sure the bottom layers will get a chance to dry too.
Storing the dried seeds is easy. I use paper envelopes. I make my own with my printer, but you could use coin envelopes or even mailing envelopes will do fine too. Label them so you know what's inside. Store them where they'll be away from heat or direct sunlight. I use cardboard file boxes to keep my seeds in and those do just fine. Another good place to keep them is in your dining room drawers. Those are dark places and your dining room is sure to be safe from extreme fluctuations in temperature.
Good luck with your seed saving!