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How To Save Marigold Seeds From Your Marigolds!

If you are looking to save money on your gardening budget while growing one of the most beneficial annuals around, then you need to save marigold seeds from your marigolds this year – and the process is a lot easier to do than you might ever think!  

Marigolds are one of the most beautiful dual-purpose flowers to grow in your garden. They produce multiple vibrant blooms per plant. And their bright red, orange, yellow and other fiery-colored blooms help to bring in loads of pollinators and useful insects to your property too.    

In addition, marigolds also act as an amazing companion crop, helping to repel many unwanted pests. Aphids, whiteflies, and tomato hornworms all steer clear of plants when marigolds are planted nearby. And to boot – they also repel dreaded mosquitoes as well!

Marigold seeds and dry seed heads.
It’s easy to save an abundance of marigold seeds – and in no time at all.

Even better, marigolds are incredibly easy to grow from seed. And although you can start marigold seeds indoors to grow as transplants, they grow and bloom so fast from seed, many gardeners simply sow the seed directly into their flowerbeds for easy growing.

But perhaps best of all just how simple it is to save seeds from your current plants. With that in mind, here are a few simple tips to help you harvest loads of seeds that will have you ready for growing beautiful marigolds next year – and all for free!

Saving Different Types Of Marigolds – How To Save Marigold Seeds

Marigolds come in two main types: open-pollinated and hybrid varieties. If you want to have an identical copy of the plant you harvest the seed from, then you need to use open-pollinated plants (heirlooms fall into this category). The seeds of these marigolds will be “true” with all of the same characteristics of the parent plant. 

Hybrid marigolds, on the other hand, are created by crossing two different types of marigolds together. The seeds of these plants will not be the same as the parent plant. Instead, they will likely look like one of the plants that was crossed.

While you can still save the seeds of hybrid marigolds, just keep in mind that the plants you grow from the seeds might not look exactly like what you expected. But who knows, you might end up with a color or variety you like even better! 

Bright orange and red mixed marigolds blooming.
African Marigolds like these Sparky Mix flowers are open-pollinated and their seeds will create exact copies when saved.

Most marigolds sold in stores are usually African or French Marigolds which are open-pollinated. Just keep this in mind when you go to pick out your seeds or plants prior to planting in the spring. (Affiliate Link: Eden Brother’s Marigold Seeds

How To Save Marigold Seeds

When To Harvest Seeds 

While your marigolds are blooming, you want to keep an eye out for blooms that are starting to fade. You’ll notice that the petals will have started to dry and shrivel up. The base of the bloom, also called the seedhead, will also be starting to turn brown. 

When you pull out one of the petals, you will see a long piece attached. This is called the “achene.” One of the ends should be white while the other end should be black. This black part is the actual marigold seed. 

If you pull out an achene and it is all one color, the seeds are not ready to be harvested yet. Allow the bloom to dry out a little more on the plant and try again in a couple of days. If one end is black, simply snip or pull off the seedhead to harvest. They usually come off easily with a decent tug.  

A dying marigold bloom with healthy ones around it.
When the fading blooms start to look like the one in the middle, they are ready to be pulled.

Even if you don’t plan to save marigold seeds, you should still deadhead the spent blooms. This will help to encourage the marigolds to keep producing new blooms. And whatever you do – do not place those blooms in your compost pile – or you will be picking out marigold sprouts everywhere next year! (See: “How To Deadhead Annual & Perennial Flowers”)

Drying The Seeds 

The next step is to separate the individual seeds from the seedhead. If the seedhead is dry, you should be able to easily pull the achenes out by holding onto the base and gently pulling the dried petals. 

You do not need to separate the actual dark seed from the rest of the achene. Leave it as one long piece.  Place them flat on a paper towel or plate to allow them time to fully dry. 

Keep the seeds in a dry location and out of direct sunlight. It may take up to a week to fully dry out. Once they are dry, they should snap in half easily. If you don’t allow them to dry completely, you risk them becoming moldy in storage.

Long-Term Seed Storage 

When the saved marigold seeds are fully dry, it’s time to prepare them for storing over the winter. One of the best places for storage is in a paper envelope. You can either reuse old seed packets, purchase inexpensive small envelopes, or make your own. (Affiliate Product Link: Kraft Paper Envelopes)

A seed packet with marigold seeds pouring out of it.
Use old seed packets for storing seeds over winter. Just be sure to label the new seeds inside as well as the date of storage.

Avoid using any type of plastic for storing the seeds directly in. The plastic has a tendency to retain any residual moisture and can cause seeds to mold. Don’t forget to label the envelope with the marigold’s variety and the date. This will save you a lot of frustration and confusion when spring rolls around.

As for storage, keep the seed packets in a cool, dry, dark location over winter. If you have the space, storing the packets in your refrigerator is a great option. However, avoid placing them in your freezer. Freezing will actually lessen the likelihood of the seeds sprouting.  

Testing Seeds For Viability 

You can check to see if your saved marigold seeds are still viable using a simple germination test. Perform the test at least two to three weeks before you want to plant the seeds.

Take 10 seeds from your saved seeds packet and spread them out on the bottom half of a damp paper towel. Fold the paper towel in half so the seeds are in between the two sides. Place the paper towel flat in a plastic bag and seal it to help keep in the moisture. 

Keep the bag in a warm location, out of direct sunlight. Check it daily and ensure that the paper towel stays moist. Use a spray bottle to carefully mist the paper towel if needed so that it is damp but not saturated.

Germinating marigold seeds in trays
Come next spring, you will have plenty of marigold seeds to start or plant outside – and all for free!
Knowing Your Germination Rate

Once two weeks have passed, count how many of the seeds have germinated. If eight out of the ten seeds germinate, then your germination rate is 80%. A rate of 70% or more is very good for saved seeds. 

Anything less than that may result in spotty germination during planting time. If that is the case, just plant more than you want to grow and thin if needed.

For best results, use the seeds you saved the following spring. Not only will saving your own marigold seeds save you money in the long run, but you will ensure that you have an amazing companion crop at your disposal when spring rolls around!

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