Garden Tips
Published November 8, 2021 by Nicole Burke

How to Save Your Own Marigold Seeds

Filed Under:
seed saving
How to Save Marigold Seeds

Marigold seeds saving

One of the first tricks I ever discovered in the kitchen garden, a trick that has brought me endless joy over the years, is something I like to call marigold magic. That is, saving marigold seeds so that one marigold plant becomes hundreds, then thousands.

I first found out about marigold magic back in 2008 or so when I was living in Charlottesville, Virginia, with my husband and four kids. Our neighbor grew thousands of gorgeous marigolds, and one day, when I told her how I admired their beauty every time I passed by on a walk, she said, "Well, help me spread the seeds."

I didn't get it at first. I wasn't really into gardening yet, so she showed me. 

She grabbed a dead flower from a plant, rubbed it between her fingers, and sprinkled the seeds around her little marigold patch like she was sprinkling magic pixie dust.

Each day, she would repeat this simple ritual, but otherwise, she did very little to tend her marigold patch. She told me to grab a dead flower whenever I walked by and do the same. I'm thankful to her for showing me how we can spread garden magic to each other in the simplest ways.

So I'll sprinkle that magic onto you now with this step-by-step guide to saving marigold seeds.

how to save marigold seeds

Where do marigold seeds come from?

Each plant forms flower heads with petals, and these heads turn into the pods that will contain the seeds. Marigolds are super generous with their seeds, with each marigold pod producing around 30 to 35 seeds.

Marigold plant with flowers and dried seed pods

What do marigold seeds look like?

I have to say, marigolds produce some of the coolest looking seeds of all the plants I've grown in the kitchen garden. Each seeds has a black or brown bottom and then a white or light yellow top, almost like a tiger stripe. Plus, the seeds are bigger, which makes planting them in the garden a bit easier.

marigold seed picture

How can you tell when marigold seeds are ready to be harvested?

It's important to wait until marigold petals are completely dry before you pick them. Otherwise, the seeds might not have had time to dry fully and will be too wet to save.

The seed pods, or the base of each flower, will turn brown and droop to the side when dry, so if you see one that's hanging, that's a sign that it's ready to be pulled.

Nicole Burke holding a dried marigold seed pod and a seed saving envelope

How do you harvest marigold seeds?

Harvesting marigold seeds is a simple and quick garden task.

Marigold seeds harvesting step one

First, pull the dried petals and leaves off the seed pod to reveal the seeds. It might help to gently rub the pod between your fingers and palm.

Marigold seeds harvesting step two

Then, pull each seed away from the base.

Now that you've harvested seeds, you have two options for what to do with them. You can either sprinkle them in your garden like confetti (the same way my old neighbor used to do) or you can save them for next season.

marigold seeds

How do you store marigold seeds?

Bring your seeds indoors and let them dry out further on a clean paper towel for a couple of days to avoid rot. Pour your seeds into a seed container or envelope labeled with the plant type and date of collection.

Store in a cool, dry place for next season.

Now that you know how to save marigold seeds, you'll never have to buy marigold seeds again! You can even make little seed packets to give away as gifts to friends (or friendly neighbors).

Check out our full list of herb recommendations for other easy-to-grow plants for the fall.

Learn more about the kitchen garden

This beautiful little herb is pretty magical. Marigolds are easy to grow from seed, they give a cottage-garden-feel to your outdoor space, they're beneficial for your other plants, they attract pollinators, they're beautiful, they smell heavenly, and they're even edible! So many reasons to grow marigolds.

Now that you know how to harvest and save your own seeds, I hope you're able to spread the simple magic of marigold seeds to your friends and family and neighbors.  It's my passion to make the kitchen garden an everyday part of everybody's life once again, and we can all help to make that happen by spreading knowledge from our own gardens into other people's gardens... or by sharing a simple trick with the stressed-out mom of four walking by your front yard.

Thanks for bringing back the kitchen garden with me one seed at a time.

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Join Gardenary 365 to watch our popular introductory gardening online course, Herb Garden Guide. Each video lesson will lead you through the step by step so that you know exactly how to grow all the culinary herbs you love right in your very own space.

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How to Save Your Own Marigold Seeds