Recycling flowers: grow next year’s flowers from this year’s seeds

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Last year we grew these gorgeous poppies and sunflowers from seed.  We grew wave petunias in pots that cascaded around the front porch.  Dahlias, zinnias, and many other bright and beautiful blooms decorated our outdoor space.   I thought about how I could re-use these plants…..then did a little searching to see what I could come up with.

Basically, here’s what you do with petunias.  The steps vary for other flowers, but the idea is generally the same.
1.  Deadhead the spent flowers often.  When you pull off the dead flower, notice the little green bump at the base of the flower.
2.  After a few days, that little green bump will turn brown and hard. It is a seed pod.  Gently pull it off.
3.  Open the seed pod with your fingers and you’ll find the tiny seeds inside.  You can store these in an envelope or some other container.  We put them in an old bowl.  Yes, we’re very high-tech around here.
4.  Check your plant often for the seeds because you’ll find dozens every time!

That’s it!  Next year you can plant these seeds and hopefully watch a huge FREE garden bloom all summer long!  It’s just like recycling flowers.  If you start with hybrid seeds, they don’t always breed true so you might end up with a hodgepodge but hey.  Still free flowers.  We had the best luck so far this year with our marigolds.  We saved many of the seed pods (in which seemingly thousands of seeds waited to be harvested) and this year my son just sprinkled them along the walkway.  We have lots of tiny plants growing up now.  My kids enjoy watching plants grow from seed and I enjoy knowing that we spent nothing on them.

The second way I tried to salvage my plants this year was lifting my geraniums last fall.  I’ve always been told that geraniums were annuals.   Last year when I was in the garden center, one of the employees told me that his geraniums successfully made it through the winter.  He took the pots where they were hanging and put them in a sheltered area of the garage.  He stopped watering the plants.  Then in summer, he brought the pots out and watered them like normal.  He said they grew back just as prolific as the previous year!  So I’m trying it this year.  I lifted the bare roots and stored them in the dry sunroom over the winter.   I didn’t have success when I replanted but willing to keep trying.
Do you have other thrifty gardening tips to share? I’d love to hear them!

Check this out….


  1. I don’t have a garden but do know someone who does and will be sure to give her this advice. I love the idea of reusing the seeds–that is what is supposed to happen anyway or the flower would not have them! I wonder if you just left them in the ground and allowed them to re seed themselves if it would work?

    • Yes Michele–they are called volunteers! 🙂 The benefit of planting them yourself is that you can have a bit of control over where the flowers bloom. Also, it’s a bit easier to figure out which little sprouts are weeds.

  2. Wow, I had no idea it would be this easy to use seeds for next year. I am going to try this. Thanks for the tip.

  3. I don’t have a garden at present. But this tells me if I do decide to have one to choose what I plant carefully and then I can recycle them the next year instead of buying new plants.

  4. Cheryl Gardenhour says:

    With dahlias, in the fall cut off the top of the plant and store the root in a mesh bag hanging in a dry place for the winter. In the spring plant them out after the danger of frost.

    • All of the dahlias we planted from PG died 🙁 I didn’t know about storing the roots until it was too late.

  5. Jenna Wood says:

    What, that sounds like craziness! I’m going to give that a try, it makes sense, I suppose with seasonal plants, I just always assumed it was more complicated.

  6. What a great idea! Buying plants that already are slightly mature can be very costly. This is a great tip to utilize.

  7. This makes me want to grow a garden. I really love all the tips that you shared. Flower gardens are so beautiful.

  8. Sherry Compton says:

    I don’t have a green thumb but love having flowers and plants in my yard. I am always looking for ones that I can have for more than one year. I have dead headed flowers before but didn’t realize about the seed pods. Thanks.

  9. I didn’t know that you can recycle flowers. How cool!

  10. The hubby seed saves in his vegetable garden and that’s where our corn crop is coming from this year. Also if your garlic sprouts you can plant it and it will grow a new bulb.

  11. Some taught me this at Kmart!

  12. Rebecca Swenor says:

    This is awesome information I didn’t know. I am going to have to try this with my flowers. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Thanks for the tips! I don’t garden myself (no space) but my parents do. Great and helpful article!

  14. This is great! Makes so much sense to just save the seeds from the previous season.

  15. I love flowers! Thanks for the info on using this year’s seeds for next year’s crop. I know this can be done with many vegetable seeds as well.

  16. I love using your own seeds to grow flowers- I found that they were better than the ones I bought at the store….as long as I did it right! I haven’t had luck with my geraniums any but I’m going to keep trying too. Love your flowers!

  17. I love the way you presented this as a “recycling” effort, which it truly is. My kids love doing things “from scratch” and using just what we have lying around. They also love gardening, and this is a great way to teach sustainability!

  18. GENIUS, Dede! I always feel like buying annuals is SUCH a waste, but why have I not thought of trying to save their seeds!? Thanks for sharing the process!

  19. Great tip! I haven’t got a green thumb though… Wish I did!

  20. Shannon F says:

    I seriously had no idea it was that easy to get seeds from flowers! I will be doing this from now on to help my beautiful garden grow! Thank you so much for sharing!!

  21. I just might have to try this! Thanks 🙂

  22. This is a great idea! I have a bit of a brown thumb, but I think even I could handle this. Looking at all your pretty flowers makes me want a garden again!

  23. I didn’t know that you can actually do this! Thanks for the tips!

  24. Edna Williams says:

    I have to be trying this! Thanks for sharing.

  25. I “recycle” veggies–broccoli and beets–by letting them go to seed, then cutting off the seed pods and leaving them on the top of my beds. Some people collect the pods and dry the seeds, but I find this way much easier, and I haven’t had to plant broccoli in 6 years, and beets in 3! We also have been getting cherry tomato “volunteers” for the last 2 years by letting several burst and leaving them in the beds!

  26. Jeanine says:

    I’m so glad I found this! Pretty flowers here I come!

  27. Amber Ludwig says:

    Such a great idea!! Im such a dope and honestly never plan ahead to do this!! I will try it this year!! Thanks for the money saver!!

  28. Sherry Compton says:

    It’s coming up…spring’s here. We are almost to planting, and some places already have. I hope by planning and working ahead you have less to do. Planting can be such work but so beautiful.

  29. Marnie G (Derrick Todd) says:

    Good information. I’m glad I came across this. I will have to remember this for our flowers this year.

  30. tracee says:

    Cool! The dahlia tubers can be dug up and stored over the winter as well. The tubers can be divided as well (make sure each piece has an eye. The eyes form at the stem area). Once the dahlia sprouts, you can root stem cuttings for even more dahlias. This means, of course, that you will know what the bloom will look like (unless it sports or reverts 😉 ).

  31. Tamra Phelps says:

    Thanks for the information on the seed pod! I honestly would not have known that (you can tell I’m not a great gardener, lol.)

  32. Sherry Compton says:

    With our cooler, wet weather I wasn’t sure how my flowers would do. I have been please to see blooms and flowers the last couple of weeks. Having flowers that come back each year is so nice and really brighten up our house. Hope yours keep coming back, too.

  33. Dorothy Boucher says:

    Great information, and often most of my flowers just regrow themselves but sometimes I do have to buy new seeds, I also have to make sure my dirt is fresh and feeling fluffy sort of ..

  34. Thanks for tips on how to recycling flowers

  35. I would have never thought of this. thanks for the advice on helping the planet and making it beautiful.

  36. This is such a great thing to do. We have started saving our seeds for next year. I can’t wait to see how well they will grow.

  37. Kimberly Flickinger says:

    I love this idea! Thank you for sharing. It is hard to believe that it is Fall already.

  38. What a great thing to know! I’ve always wondered how to do it, just never thought to look it up. LOL. Thanks!

  39. Jane Ritz says:

    I love your flowers. I used to have beautiful plants and a garden. Now I have a degenerative spine disease and can only manage a few pots on the back porch,

  40. Amber Ludwig says:

    Such a smart idea!! So much more efficient than going and buying more seeds each year!! Im pretty sure this is how nature intended it 😉

  41. Crystal Gomez says:

    This is a great tip! I really want to start a garden next spring!

  42. Lots of great tips here I will use. Thank you for posting this.

  43. Saving seeds is a great way to grow your garden. Yes, marigolds do reseed well with saved seeds.

  44. michelle combs says:

    this is a great idea. I’ll have to try it

  45. Dorothy Boucher says:

    I will have to try that taking the seeds out and who would of thought by putting the plant
    in a cry area and not watering it, that it would still grow come spring. nice to know.

  46. Sally Wilsey says:

    Never knew this was so simple. I love gardening and am always buying new plants. This would save a lot of time and money. Thank you for the post.

  47. Susan Hartman says:

    I can’t wait till I can start planting again. Im always collecting seeds. Its so easy. I find them everywhere!

  48. I am looking forward to getting ready for spring. I like your review and pointers, and thank you so much.

  49. Is it Spring yet? Blizzard warnings out for this weekend. No planting yet.

  50. Great tips! I love growing flowers and herbs!

  51. I’m curious, did you save any plants to regrow this Spring?

  52. I’m planning on doing this this year! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  53. I sure do have Spring fever, can’t wait to plant flowers and veggies!

  54. I recycle seeds from many plants but I have discovered that some of them tend to get smaller and less flashy years down the road.

  55. kathy downey says:

    These are all great tips,sure to come in handy! I love growing flowers and herbs!

  56. Dotty J Boucher says:

    Thanks for the tips and ideas, Never thought to look after changing pots for extra seeds.

  57. I’m hoping to have a yard, and flowers are what I’m dreaming of. I’d love to try this, and if they are a little wild looking all the better. Good to know about petunias!

  58. We plant a vegetable garden every year and I also have lots of flowers everywhere too. I usually dont re-seed with my flowers as most of them come up every year but I did seed some this year that I would like more of them to grow. I never throw veggie or flower seeds away.


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