How to Deadhead Summer Flowers for Their Seeds
There's a lot of information out there about deadheading summer flowers, most of which revolves around removing spent flowerheads to make way for new, healthy buds. The process—which works across a variety of flowering bushes and shrubs, from roses to hydrangeas—ultimately maximizes your plant's blooming capabilities, so you can enjoy those lush, fragrant blossoms all warm-weather season long.
There are, however, other benefits to the common gardening technique—ones that actually go beyond the plant's current bloom cycle. To get a head start on next year's garden (it's never too early to prepare!), follow our founder's lead: Rather than deadheading summer flowers after they bloom and wither, Martha often lets them go to seed.
You'll need to keep an eye on your plants in order to collect the seeds after the flower has finished, so be sure to watch for pods on the stems and then wait for them to dry. Here's where timing truly comes in. You will need to cut off the pods before they break open, so you can harvest the seeds for yourself (instead of losing them to the earth below). As for the varieties this method applies to? Martha does this with her poppies, columbines, snapdragons, lupines, and foxgloves, but it works for zinnias, calendula, and marigolds, too.
After you have collected your pods, shake the seeds out onto a flat surface and allow them to dry completely. Then, store them in labeled envelopes in a cool spot for the winter—and wait patiently for spring.