How to Harvest & Save Marigold Seeds

Learn how to collect and store seeds from marigold flowers!

opened marigold flower, showing seeds inside
These seeds could’ve used a day or two longer to mature, but since they’re turning black on the bottom, you can go ahead and dry them. Next time, wait until the flower top is a little browner.

In this article, you’ll learn how to collect and store seeds from marigolds (Tagetes spp.) that may be growing in your garden.

Be sure not to confuse marigolds with calendula (which is sometimes called pot marigold) – here’s an article to help you tell the difference!

Calendula vs Marigolds – the Differences

Collecting marigold seeds may result in being buried in beautiful marigolds, because these flowers produce a lot of seeds per bloom!

It’s easy to wind up with enough seeds to fill a mason jar by constantly harvesting from only a few plants- and then filling another, and another, and another…

marigold flower heads and seeds
The brown flower head on the left looks just about right for harvesting seeds!

Harvesting

If you want to collect marigold seeds, you have to wait for the seeds to mature first. This means you have to leave your wilting and dying marigold flowers on the plants for a while- if you start snapping them off as soon as they start to flag, the seeds won’t be ready yet.

To check if the seeds are mature, you can gently use your fingers to slightly split open the seedhead. When you do this, you’ll be able to see the seeds, still attached to the plant. The seeds are ready to harvest when they’ve gone dark-

A cupped hand holding a cluster of marigold seeds, while another hand is pulling open a withered flower to expose more ready seeds.
Seeds may still feel soft, but they’re still ready to harvest here!

Pale seeds aren’t quite ready yet. Check them again later!

Drying

In order for the seeds to make it to next year, they need to be dried.

Set out a cloth, or a paper towel. The collected seeds will need to be scattered over it to dry over the next couple of days, so pick your drying area with that in mind.

Break apart the marigold heads with your hands, using your fingers to pull the seeds free. Sprinkle the seeds over your drying area, making sure to break up clumps.

Now leave them be! Once seeds are completely dried, they can be scooped up and stored away. Test them after a week – pick up a seed and try to snap it in half. If it’s dried enough, it should break. If it bends, let them dry more!

Storage

Dried seeds can be stored in glass canning jars, paper envelopes, or brown paper lunch bags, tucked away from the heat and direct sunlight. Wherever you store your seeds, try to find a place that doesn’t fluctuate much in humidity and temperature. Avoid moisture- wet seeds can rot, mold, or sprout.

Jar of marigold seeds, surrounded by green leaves.
Don’t store them outside. Outside is a terrible place to store seeds.

As with all seeds, viability and germination rate will decrease over time.

This doesn’t mean your marigold seeds are useless once they’ve tallied a couple years- go ahead and plant them, but keep in mind that many of them may not germinate (or none at all, if the seeds were improperly stored/simply don’t have any viability left).

That being said, taking a chance and getting spotty germination is better than simply throwing out the seeds and getting nothing at all!

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2 Comments

  1. Great site. I found this very useful for the African marigolds I have. The only problem is the flowers are so large and heavy that they bend the thin stem. I’ve taped a few to see if that wiillget me through to dying

    1. Hi Anne, I’m happy you found the site helpful! Your flowers sound gorgeous! ❤ You can pinch off the tips of the plant earlier in the season to help it grow more bushier/sturdier.

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