How to Save Zinnia Seeds: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Since many types of zinnias are annuals, you need to replant the seeds each year. One way to save a little cash and learn more about these plants is to save zinnia seeds. In this guide, I’ll run through everything you need to know about selecting, saving, and storing zinnia seeds.

How to Save Zinnia Seeds_ A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Fundamentals of Saving Flower Seeds

Before you save zinnia seeds or any flower seeds, you should understand some basic seed-saving fundamentals.

One of the first things to understand is the difference between hybrid and open-pollinated varieties.

Hybrid varieties are produced when two genetically different plants are cross-pollinated. These plants often have desirable characteristics such as disease resistance, double petals, or increased flower production.

While you can save the seeds from hybrid varieties, their offspring will not be genetically similar to the parent plants. That means when you grow out the seeds, the plants may not have the parent plant’s double blooms or bright yellow flowers.

Open-pollinated varieties will produce genetically identical seeds to the parent plant as long as the flowers are cross-pollinated with the same variety.

Best Types of Zinnias to Harvest Seeds From

A collection of colorful blooming zinnia flowers growing in a garden patch

Generally, open-pollinated zinnias are the best types to save seeds from. That’s because they will produce seeds with genetics identical to the parent plant.

If you want to experiment with creating a new type of zinnia, you can cross-pollinate flowers from two different open-pollinated varieties. This will give a plant that is a mix of the two parent plants.

Here are some popular types of open-pollinated zinnias:

  • Zinnia elegans: This is the most common species of Zinnia and includes many open-pollinated varieties. Popular varieties include the ‘California Giants’, ‘Cactus Flowered Mix’, and ‘Lilliput Mix’.
  • Zinnia angustifolia: This species has smaller, single flowers. ‘Crystal White’ and ‘Star Orange’ are two open-pollinated varieties.
  • Zinnia haageana: This species is resistant to disease. ‘Persian Carpet’ is a popular open-pollinated variety.
  • Zinnia peruviana: This species of zinnia usually has a single layer of petals and come in shades of red, orange, and yellow.
  • Zinnia Envy: This is a popular open-pollinated variety with unique lime-green flowers.
  • Zinnia Thumbelina: This is a dwarf zinnia variety that’s open-pollinated. The flowers are semi-double to double and come in a variety of colors.
  • Zinnia Cut and Come Again: This mix includes a wide range of colors, with plants that will continue to produce new blooms if the old ones are cut.

What Do Zinnia Seeds Look Like?

Small brown zinnia seeds in a pile

Zinnia seeds are small, flat, brown, and resemble an arrowhead. They are about half an inch long and an eighth of an inch wide.

How to Select Healthy Plants

You’ll want to select seeds from healthy plants when you collect zinnia seeds.

Why?

First off, healthy plants are more likely to create healthy offspring. If all but one of your zinnia plants have died off due to hot weather or disease, the remaining plant will most likely contain traits that helped it survive.

Another reason to only select seeds from healthy plants is that fungal and bacterial diseases can spread from seed to plant. The disease may infect the emerging seedling if you save seeds from infected plants.

So, what should you look for in a healthy zinnia plant? Vibrant green leaves, lots of flowers, and no signs of disease or stress.

When to Collect Zinnia Seeds

Colorful zinnia flowers bloom with deep green leaves and foliage

One of the most important parts of collecting zinnia seeds is making sure the seeds are mature! And that means waiting until the flowers begin to fade.

When you cut zinnias for bouquets, you typically want to harvest them just as the flowers are opening. However, you’ll be disappointed if you select these flowers for seed.

Instead, wait until the flower has fully formed, bloomed, and turned brown. This signals that the seeds are fully formed and ready to save.

You can collect these spent zinnias at any time of day, but it’s better to collect them on dry days.

Best Drying Techniques

If you collect zinnia flowers for seed at the proper time, the seed heads should already be mostly dry. However, getting the last bit of moisture out is essential for proper seed storage.

An easy way to dry the flowers is to lay them out on a screen or rack and place them in a dry, indoor area. They should be fully dry in about a week.

If you’d like to speed up the process, you can place the flowers in a dehumidifier for a day or two.

Releasing, Cleaning, and Preparing Zinnia Seeds

After the flowers are dry, it’s time to separate the individual seeds from the rest of the flower. You can do this by gently rubbing the flower until the seeds separate or placing the flowers in a paper bag and shaking them.

Once the seeds are released from the petals and stem, you need to separate the seeds from the rest of the material. You can do this by picking out the seeds by hand.

Set the seeds on a screen or table and allow them to dry for a few more days.

How to Store Zinnia Seeds

Once your zinnia seeds are cleaned and fully dried, they’re ready to store.

Place the seeds in a paper or plastic bag or sealed container. Place them in a cool, dry place such as a closet or kitchen cupboard.

How Long Will Zinnia Seeds Last?

As long as zinnia seeds are fully dried and stored properly, they should remain viable for about three to five years. 

Germinating and Planting Zinnia Seeds

Bright pink flowering zinnia plants

Since zinnias are warm-weather flowers, you’ll want to wait until the late spring or summer to plant the seeds. You can either direct seed or transplant zinnia seeds; the choice is up to you.

If you opt to transplant, start seeds in a well-draining soil mix about four weeks before you want to plant them outside. I like to start seeds in 72-cell trays.

Transplant outside after the danger of frost has passed.

If you’d like to direct seed, wait until the danger of frost has passed. Plant the seeds about three to five inches apart in rows that are ten inches apart.


How to Save Zinnia Seeds FAQs:

Can You Save Seeds from Cut Zinnias?

It depends on when the flowers were cut. If the flowers were cut when they were in full bloom, you may be able to save the seeds. However, if the flowers were cut just as the petals were opening, the seeds won’t be mature.

Can You Save Zinnia Seeds to Plant Next Year?

Yes! Select mature flowers and allow the seeds to dry fully. If you properly select, dry, and store the seeds, they will last for multiple years.

Should I Deadhead My Zinnias?

Deading old zinnia flowers will encourage the plants to produce new flowers. However, the plants will still grow if you don’t deadhead.


Wrapping Up

If you’re already growing zinnias, saving their seeds is just another small step! By saving seeds from this year’s flowers, you can continue to plant zinnias for years to come.

For more, see our in-depth guide to the best companion plants for Zinnias, how to grow zinnias in pots, and the uses and benefits of zinnias.


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