Quick Guide to Collecting & Storing Hollyhock Seeds
SAVING HOLLYHOCK SEEDS
It's as easy as 1-2-3!
Saving hollyhock seed is super easy. In fact, because the seed pods and the seeds themselves are large and easy to handle, saving hollyhock seed is a fun project for children as well as adults.
"The love of gardening is a seed that once sown never dies."
—Gertrude Jekyll, British horticulturalist, landscape architect & advocate of the "natural" garden
Saving the seed can be done in three easy steps.
1. Harvest hollyhock seed from seed pods.
2. Clean & dry the seed.
3. Package the hollyhock seed for storage.
And you don't need any special equipment, just ordinary household items: paper bags, paper towels and envelopes and/or empty glass jars.
HOLLYHOCK SEED PODS
Harvesting hollyhock seed
At the end of the growing season (late summer or early fall), rather than
picking the flowers on your hollyhocks, allow them to "go to seed" on the
When hollyhock flowers go to seed, they shrivel and turn brown. Eventually, the petals fall to the ground, leaving large, fuzzy, brown pods behind. These pods are seed pods, and they contain hollyhock seeds.
When they've dried to a medium brown on the stalk, it's time to harvest them.
To harvest hollyhock seeds, simply snap the hollyhock seed pods off the stalks with your fingers, dropping them into a brown paper bag. (If you want to sow them instead of save them, autumn is also the ideal time for that. Simply scatter the seeds onto rich, fertile soil in a sunny spot in your garden, one that's appropriate for tall flowers like hollyhocks, and cover them lightly with soil.)
Keep the hollyhock seed pods in the paper bag until you're ready to begin the cleaning and drying process, which is the next step in saving hollyhock seeds.
Cleaning & drying the seed
To prepare harvested hollyhock seed for storage, crack open the seed pods, separating the seeds and discarding the pod.
Hollyhock seeds are rather large and flat. Inside the pod, they tend to stick together, and you'll probably have to separate them from each other using your fingernails. With tweezers (or your fingers--the pieces will be quite large) remove any debris or chaff.
Once you start handling the seeds, you'll realize that, despite the brown and shriveled appearance of the pods, the seeds aren't really dry. They still contain moisture and must be allowed to dry more before storage.
To remove the excess moisture, place the hollyhock seeds on paper towels, wax paper or old window screens and allow them to air dry for about a week. Don't leave them much longer, as they'll begin to absorb moisture instead of lose it, something you definitely don't want.
Hollyhocks in Bloom @ Hollyhock Garden
CONTAINERS FOR HOLLYHOCK SEED
What's your favorite flower for a cottage garden?
Storing hollyhock seed
If dried thoroughly and stored properly, hollyhock seeds will remain viable for a long time--about nine years!
If storing more than one type of seed, place them in labeled envelopes and then put the envelopes in a sealable glass container, such as a Mason jar.
If storing only one type of seed, simply place it directly in a small glass container, i.e. an old spice jar. Again, be sure to label the container, writing the seed name and the date stored on the outside.
Although many gardeners successfully store seed in film canisters and plastic tubs, some evidence suggests that the gases emitted by plastics may adversely affect germination rates.
Once it's packaged and labeled, store the hollyhock seed in the refrigerator or the freezer until you're ready to sow it. (Seed stored in the freezer will last longer--if it's been properly dried beforehand.)
About the Author
The Dirt Farmer has been an active gardener for over 30 years.
She first began gardening as a child alongside her grandfather on her parents' farm.
Today, The Dirt Farmer gardens at home, volunteers at community gardens and continues to learn about gardening through the MD Master Gardener program.
© 2013 Jill Spencer