Should I save seeds from my flowers and vegetables to grow next year?
The answer depends on what kinds of plants you are growing and what outcome you expect.
There are several different types of plants you may be growing in your garden:
- heirloom plants that have been grown for many, many generations
- open-pollinated varieties whose flowers are pollinated naturally rather than in a plant-breeding nursery
- hybrid varieties, of which the most common are the so-called F1 hybrids. F1 hybrids are produced by hybridizing two genetically uniform parent plants. They usually have increased vigor (hybrid vigor), high germination rates, earlier flowering, and specific desirable characteristics. F1 hybrid seeds are usually more expensive because of the effort involved in producing them. Seed packages of F1 varieties will carry this designation.
Saving seeds from heirloom and open-pollinated varieties is a good idea, as they will usually germinate true to type (i.e. they will be identical or very similar to the plants you are already growing). The exception to this is if the plants have cross-pollinated with a similar variety growing nearby.
Many summer annuals, including petunias, marigolds, zinnias and impatiens, can be successfully grown from home-harvested seeds. This is also true of many vegetables, e.g. beans, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, squash and tomatoes. However, growing carrots, beets, radishes and mustard from seeds you have harvested is usually not as successful.
In general, seeds from F1 hybrids should not be saved, as they will not breed true and will often have inferior growth characteristics.
For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service