How To Save Scabiosa Seeds For Next Season (aka Pincushion Flower)

two faded purple scabiosa seedheads in hand

My first year of growing scabiosa, also known as pincushion flowers, was such a success that not only will I plant them again next year, but I also learned how to save the seeds from my best-performing plants this year.

Saving seeds is straightforward, preserves my best plants, and saves me money next year. 

To harvest scabiosa seeds, wait for the flowers to fade on the plant until the petals have fallen off. You’ll see a green seedhead that looks like a green raspberry, which you can harvest now or wait for it to dry to a brown color. Once you cut the seedhead, store it in a paper bag in a cool, dry location.

Scabiosa seedheads are large, easy to spot, and easy to harvest, so you’ll soon have your own seed stash built up for next season. I also filmed a 1-minute video to show you just how easy it is.

This short video on how to save scabiosa seeds will show you how easy the process is!

How to save scabiosa seeds

Scabiosa seeds are on the list of the easiest seeds to harvest. Throughout the long blooming season, the flowers will fade to large, green seedheads you can gather and store for next year. 

The process is very straightforward, but here are the details to remove any questions and help you know just what to do. 

Seed saving in a nutshell:

  • Leave the flowers on the plant long enough to be pollinated
  • Wait for the flower to turn into a seedhead, then harvest when green or brown
  • Store the seedhead in a paper bag or a plastic bag if fully dried (no moisture allowed!)
  • Plant the seeds in the spring for a new round of free plants. Thanks, bees.

Allow flowers to open fully for pollination

Without pollination, there won’t be any seeds, so don’t harvest the flowers too soon. 

Once the flowers start to crack open, you should see bees and butterflies visiting the blooms frequently, which is what will trigger the seeds to develop. 

A pollinated scabiosa flower will last for a couple of weeks on the plant, so you’ll get to enjoy the beautiful flowers for while before harvesting them. 

Once the petals begin to fade, dry out, and fall off the flower, you’ll know it’s almost time to cut the flower heads off to store and save for next year. 

Select the healthiest blooms for seed production

It’s critical to seek out the biggest and best blossoms for propagation. Seeds from the healthiest flowers will have high germination rates and lead to vigorous growth next year. 

Mildew and mold can easily infect seeds. Do not attempt to save any seed that may have come in contact with a fungal disease. The plants from these seeds won’t be as healthy, and you wouldn’t want any disease to spread throughout your garden.

Harvest the seedheads while green or brown

The time of year and climate will influence the best time to harvest the seedheads. 

Green seedheads are still viable seeds; they just haven’t finished drying out. You can successfully harvest these and store them in a paper bag, allowing moisture to escape and preventing the seeds from spoiling. 

Harvesting the seedheads at this stage is a great way to get seeds throughout the season while still encouraging flower production. 

Once pollination occurs and triggers seed production, the plant gets the message that its reproduction job is done and slows down flower growth. Pruning flowers throughout the season, known as deadheading, is the best way to keep flower production high. 

But to harvest seeds, you have to let some flowers go and avoid deadheading them. So harvesting the seedheads when they’re green is a great compromise between getting seeds throughout the season and keeping flower production steady. 

On the other hand, brown seedheads are fully ripe and dried out. Letting the seedheads mature longer on the plant is an excellent method for the end of the season, when the plant will soon die back, anyway. 

That way, you’ll have kept the plant deadheaded through the season to maximize flower production. Just be sure to give the plant several weeks to produce its last flowers, achieve pollination, and allow the flowerhead to fade. 

For example, stop deadheading in September for a final flush of flowers if your season ends in October. 

Need some quality snips for your harvesting job? Check out my favorites here:

My favorite garden shears

I constantly misplace my garden shears and clippers, so I’ve tested a lot of pairs. Good thing these ones have red handles to help me keep track of them!

Store the seedheads where they’ll stay dry and cool

Moisture and heat will degrade the viability of your seeds, so store them in a cool, dry, and preferably dark place. A cupboard or your closet are good spots, whereas the garage or greenhouse is less than ideal due to temperature swings. 

You can use a paper bag or buy small envelopes to store the seeds. Paper is an excellent storage material for green seedheads since they still have moisture that will evaporate as they dry out. 

Small plastic baggies are perfect for fully dry, brown seed heads. 

As extra insurance against moisture, you can pop all your seeds bags into a jar with a small desiccant packet, which will help preserve dry conditions. If you live in a humid environment, this can be a nice trick to store seeds and maintain viability. 

Label and date the seeds, so you don’t forget the variety or color for next year, and voila, you have successfully saved scabiosa seeds.

Learn more

If you’re interested in saving other flower seeds, here are a couple of other articles that will help you on your journey:

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