Ah, the beauty of a fresh bouquet – nothing quite compares! It looks so pretty, you might be hoping to save some seeds from the flowers. But can cut flowers actually produce seeds? You may not think so at first glance, but the answer isn’t as straightforward as you’d think.
Cut flowers purchased from a store or nursery are usually not mature enough to produce seeds since they’re cut before pollination. Cut flowers grown at home can be allowed to mature and pollinate before cutting to produce seeds for later plantings.
Read on to discover why cut flowers can sometimes yield viable seeds and what that means for your gardening journey.
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Can You Get Seeds From Cut Flowers?
Want to collect seeds from a store-bought bouquet? Sadly, it isn’t usually possible.
Store-bought bouquets are cut and arranged when the flowers are freshest, which is often in the bud stage when they’re just starting to open. Pollination hasn’t occurred yet, which is necessary for seed production.
If the flowers are open when you buy them, chances are good that they were still picked as early as possible in their blooming period to ensure the longest vase life. It also means the flowers weren’t left on the plant long enough for pollination to occur. No pollination means no seeds to save.
It’s much easier to get seeds from cut flowers you’ve grown in your home garden. You can cut the flowers after pollination and right before the flowers have finished maturing.
You won’t be able to keep your cut flowers as a fresh bouquet as long with this cutting method. However, you can keep matured flowers in dried arrangements and save the seeds for future flower plantings.
Growing new flowers from cut flowers
Another way to grow new flowers from cut flowers is to propagate the flowers using fresh cuttings. This method can work for store-bought cut flower bouquets that haven’t been treated with chemicals that stop growth. It will work very as it will for the flowers from your garden.
To propagate your flower bouquet using cuttings, follow these steps:
- Choose a cutting. For a successful cutting, you’ll need a section of flower stem that’s
2-6 inches long with two or three leaf nodes attached. The cutting should be from a very fresh bouquet to encourage regrowth.
- Add root hormone. Root hormone is a chemical you can dip the cut end of your flower cutting in to help encourage the growth of new roots.
- Plant the cutting. Use a soilless potting mix to reduce the chance that the cutting will be attacked by an infection. Cover the top of the cutting with a plastic storage bag to increase its ambient humidity and keep the cutting from drying out.
- Let the cutting grow. Most cuttings will begin to produce roots and reestablish themselves within 2-3 weeks. Once the cutting has grown roots, you can remove the plastic bag and tend to the flower as normal.
Only certain types of cut flowers can be propagated from cuttings. Some of these include wisteria, lilac, hydrangea, azalea, and roses.
You can find more detail at this flower shop’s site, The Bouqs Co., where they have an in-depth article to walk you through the process. I’ve also got an article specific to starting zinnias from cuttings, though you won’t find those flowers used much in store-bought bouquets.
Cutting bouquets for seed saving
The best way to get good seeds from cut flowers is to harvest the flowers from your backyard garden to save them. This method allows the seeds to mature completely and enables you to pick and choose exactly which plants you want to propagate.
Here is a summary of the method you should use for cutting flowers to save seeds, as learned from the very thorough guide by Artemis Flower Farms. If you’re interested in learning seed-saving, you should definitely check out their blog.
- Tag the plants you want to save seeds from. Marking these plants with a loop of yarn or some other market can help you determine which flower blossoms to cut. You’ll want to choose flowers from plants that are especially beautiful or healthy. You can also select for other traits like color or height.
- Allow the plants to mature fully. Each type of flower will look slightly different at full maturity, but once the petals of the flower begin to dry up, this is usually an indication that the seeds are almost mature and the flower should be cut.
- Cut the blooms away from the stem. Separating the seeds from the flower can be much easier if you reduce the number of dried leaves and stems you have to pick through. Most cut flowers can be cut directly at the bloom if they aren’t going to be used in a dried flower arrangement first. There’s no need to leave a long stem.
- Dry the flowers. Flowers should be dried on a screen or laid out on newspapers. The flowers may take several hours to several days to dry fully. If the weather has been humid or there’s been a lot of recent rain, it may take longer to dry them.
- Separate the seeds. To separate the seeds from the flowers, rub the flowers between your fingers or over a fine screen. Separate any chaff, dried petals, dried leaves, or stems from the seeds and reserve them in a box or container.
- Store the seeds. No matter which flower seeds you’re trying to save, they will last longer and germinate more readily if you keep them in cool, dry storage. An airtight container in a dark cabinet is a great place to prevent moisture or mold from affecting their viability. Some people freeze their seeds, but I haven’t tried that yet.
By growing bouquet blooms in the garden at home, you’ll always have a supply of fresh seeds to harvest from your cut flowers.
Why save sees from cut flowers?
There are several reasons you should invest the time and energy into harvesting seeds from cut flowers, especially if you’re growing your own. Here are the main things to consider when deciding whether or not to save flower seeds:
- Better germination: The longer seeds sit in dry storage, the less likely they are to germinate. Fresh seeds straight from the garden will have the highest chance to germinate, especially when it comes to flower species that can be hard to produce.
- Bioregional adaptation: Saving seeds from healthy plants leads to regionally adapted seeds, which means the parent plant acclimated to your area, so the offspring may start off stronger than seeds grown elsewhere. Fruition Seed puts it this way: “Local seed is the heart of local food” (and flowers!).
- Trait selection: If you’re trying to grow particular types of flowers or breeding for specific traits like height, color, or fragrance, saved seeds let you push those traits that you want to continue and cull those you wish to remove.
Saving seeds from your flower garden does take a little extra effort at the end of the growing season, but it will have profound positive consequences on your cut flowers over the long term.
Saving seeds requires patience
In many ways, saving seeds mirrors the close observation you do of your seedlings at the beginning of the growing season. At the end of the growing season, you’ll need patience to inspect your flower garden daily and prepare for seed saving. But if you go through the effort, you’ll find your flower garden more colorful and healthy for every year you do.
Here are tips on how to save some of my favorite flowers straight from the garden: