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How to Harvest Coneflower Seeds (Echinacea)

Saving coneflower seeds (also called echinacea) does not take a lot of time, it just takes patience! If you are willing to let the flowers dry out while on the plant or stored in your home, then you will be rewarded with hundreds of free seeds to use in the garden next year.

Once you learn how to harvest coneflower seeds, you will be able to grow these perennial flowers every year without needing to pay for seed packets!

What Do Coneflower Seeds Look Like?

Coneflower seeds look are a tan half-oval shape. While they are not round, they are not completely flat, either. They have a ridge going down the middle.

Seeds are located in the spiky seed heads of a coneflower. These long and narrow seed heads are darker in color. They are clustered around a central cone, which resembles a bur once dried.

Dried coneflower seed heads.
Coneflower cone with no seeds attached.

Have other flowers in your garden? You might be interested in these seed saving guides, too:

Harvesting Coneflower Seeds

Saving echinacea seeds is an easy way to multiply the number of flowers in your garden. The seeds grow perennial plants that will come back year after year, adding flowers to the landscape that attract butterflies, bees and birds.

When to Harvest Coneflower Seeds

At the end of the plant’s growing season, around late fall, coneflower seeds are ready to be harvested from the entire plant to keep for the next year’s garden.

Alternatively, flowers that die back during the summer months can be harvested for seeds, as well. You will want to cut off these individual stems from the plant, which may allow the stem to re-bloom in the fall.

Variety of Ways to Harvest Echinacea Seeds

You can harvest seeds directly from the flower in the garden as long as the plant has dried out. However, you will need to wait until the flower petals turn brown and die back, as well as allowing the flower to dry out.

Coneflowers that are dying but the seed heads are still ripe and not ready to be harvested.

I find this unsightly in my garden, so I cut off flower stems that are past their prime before they turn brown and black. To save the seeds, I need to allow the flower to dry.

This is the easy way that I dry echinacea seeds to use in the garden next year:

  • Cut off the entire flower stem from the plant once the flower has faded.
  • Put the flower stems upside down in a brown paper bag, with the seed heads toward the bottom.
  • Allow to dry for weeks or months. I usually allow mine to dry in a cool, dry environment all winter long. The longer they dry, the easier it is to remove the seeds.
  • Once the seed heads are black in color and dried out, harvest the coneflower seeds.

You can just cut the flower heads off the plant and allow to dry in a paper bag or box, as well.

Whatever way you like to harvest the seeds is your preference.

Coneflower seed heads can be prickly and hurt your fingers if you do not use gloves. Be sure to wear a sturdy pair of gloves when handling the seed heads.

Here is the easiest method for harvesting the echinacea seeds:

  • Gently pull a section of the prickly seed pods from the seed head to start the process.
  • Alternatively, you can gently bend the seed head in half to start the seeds releasing from the cone.
  • Once you have an access point to the cone, the seeds often come off easily with pressure from your thumb. Run your finger across the base and they should pop out of the cone.
  • I have also gently pulled the seeds out of the cone with success, too.

Important Note: Harvest coneflower seeds before rain if possible. You do not want to save seeds that are wet.

Seed saving is ideally suited for organic, heirloom or open-pollinated plants. I purchase my original seed packets from Botanical Interests, which sells organic and heirloom varieties of flowers, vegetables, fruits and herbs.

Related Posts – You might also like these easy gardening crafts:

How to Dry Echinacea Seeds

If you are harvesting seeds directly off of the plant, spread the seeds on a paper towel, paper plate, brown paper, cardboard or a mesh drying rack and give them time to completely dry out.

Humidity, dew and rain can add moisture to the seeds that you are unaware of. They must be completely dried out in order to germinate next year.

When drying seeds, air flow is important. You do not want to lay seeds on plastic because air cannot easily circulate around the seed, as it can with porous paper products.

Placing the flower heads in a brown paper bag or cardboard box and allowing to dry in a cool, dry environment lets the seeds dry out without taking up room in your home or garage.

The longer the seed pods dry, the less prickly and painful they will be to remove to release the seeds inside.

How to Store Coneflower Seeds

Once the seeds are dry, store them in a paper bag, paper envelope or a glass jar without a sealed lid.

Most people say to store seeds in a tightly sealed jar or zip top plastic bag to save for next year. However, I have never found this to be successful.

The problem with storing seeds in an airtight container is that you must be sure all moisture has evaporated, which is very hard to do in humid environments such as the South where I live.

I have lost lots of seeds due to mold after storing in plastic bags.

My seeds are stored inside paper envelopes or paper bags. I then store those seeds inside, rather than in a garden shed.

Put the seeds in a cool, dry place. Be sure to label the container with the flower name, and variety if necessary. Add any gardening tips that you learned from this year’s harvest to the label so that you will remember for next year’s garden.

Not ready to harvest yet? Be sure to Pin This Guide to Pinterest to save for later!

If you enjoyed this easy tutorial of how to harvest coneflower seeds, you will also like the easy method to harvest mustard green seeds, too.