Saving Marigold Seeds: Harvesting, Drying and Storing Properly


Marigolds are some of our favorite companion plants in our vegetable and flower gardens. Their showy flowers keep on blooming right up until the frost. The bright and cheerful petals add a beautiful splash of color to our outdoor space, even when other flowers may be dying.

Sometimes referred to as the herb of the sun, marigolds symbolize positivity, strength, and happiness. They are also incredibly easy to care for, making them perfect for both beginner and experienced gardeners alike.

To top it off, saving marigold seeds from dried flowers is easy, quick, and rewarding. In this article, I’ll share how to collect and store marigold seeds for sowing next season. Let’s get into it!

Orange marigolds in raised bed

What do marigold seeds look like?

First, let’s get familiar with marigold seeds and their overall appearance. If you haven’t planted them before, you may be surprised by the shape and size of marigold seeds.

Marigolds produce long, skinny seeds, each attached to the flowers of a bloom. Each marigold bloom is actually a cluster of simple flowers (known as composite flowers). The two types of flowers on each bloom are called ray and disc flowers.

Marigold seeds in hand
Freshly-harvested marigold seeds are long, bi-colored, and lightweight.

Thankfully, this doesn’t matter much, as all of the seeds look similar and can be used to grow a new plant. When sowing marigold seeds, black portion of the seed should be buried under soil, as this is where germination occurs.

When to save marigold seeds

Marigolds benefit from deadheading, producing more blooms overall when dead flowers are removed. For this reason, I do recommend picking wilted flowers throughout most the season.

However, as the weather begins to cool off, I always stop picking marigold flowers to allow them to produce their seeds. The flowers need time to produce ripe, viable seeds for the next generation.

Once a flower has mostly died off and the petals have fallen, the seeds are likely ready for harvest. You can also wait longer into the colder months to allow the seeds to dry out naturally on the plant.

Marigolds at different stages of flowering
Notice the small, brown flowers that appear to be dead – these are perfect for harvesting seeds.

Be careful, though! The longer you wait, the more likely it is that the seeds will fall off or be eaten by hungry birds.

How to save marigold seeds

Compared with other flowers like zinnias, marigold seeds are very simple to collect and store. When finished blooming, each flower will close up, dry out, and form a cluster of seeds inside.

What’s even better is that the flowers typically stay on the plant, even after fully drying. These neatly-packed pods can contain dozens of seeds depending on the original flower’s size.

Saving marigold seeds (steps)

  1. Identify a suitable flower head.

    After a marigold flower is finished blooming, it begins ripening the seeds within the flower. You can pick flowers earlier, but I like to wait until the flower heads are completely dried out, with a light tan to brown color.Marigold seed pod dried

  2. Allow the flowers to dry indoors.

    Before removing the seeds, I like to allow the intact flower head to dry out for 1-2 weeks inside. If you are saving seeds in the fall, the indoor air should be dry, quickly dehydrating the seed pods.

  3. Open the flower pod to reveal the seeds (optional).

    If you want to store the seeds loose, you can open the flower heads to remove the individual seeds. Alternatively, you can simply store the dried flowers whole until you are ready to plant the seeds in spring.Closeup of marigold seeds inside flower

  4. Store the seeds in a cool, dry location.

    To keep the seeds fresh as long as possible, store them in a dry, cool location. They can be stored in the fridge, but should be sealed with a desiccant packet inside to prevent moisture buildup.

That’s it! Like I said, saving marigold seeds is one of the easiest flowers to save seeds from. The densely-packed flowers are enough to sow dozens of new marigold plants the following season!

Storing marigold seeds

Storage is the same for most annual flowers, so feel free to store your marigold seeds together with other types. They’ll last longest in a cool, dark, and dry environment.

In short, store marigold seeds in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Place a desiccant packet in along with your seeds to reduce the moisture inside the container and prolong the seed’s life.

Common questions about marigolds

Marigold seedlings in seed tray
Marigold seedlings that were planted indoors in spring.

I hope this article helps you with saving marigold seeds for planting next year. Seed saving is an excellent way to save money, select superior plants and varieties, and enjoy gardening just a little bit more.

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