How to Collect and Store Seeds from 4 o’clocks

With Fall well on it’s way, many of the summer blooming heirloom plants are producing seeds–the 4 o’clocks are no exception. With three different colors—each a pass along gift from special friends and family—I’m determined to ensure that I will have more next year!

The four o’clocks produce large tubers that readily survive in zones 9 and 10, but not always dependably in zone 8b or lower. So, each afternoon, I check the new blooms and collect seeds.

The Seeds.

The dark seeds are about the size of a green pea, and easily seen and picked (see photos below).

The spent blooms are all that remain of the flowers — and only those flowers that have been pollinated will produce seeds. So, if your plants develop few seeds, the location may not be frequented by pollinators until the flowers become noticeable. (Plant 4 o’clocks near flowers that have blooms in the morning and attract hummingbirds — the 4 o’clocks bloom in the afternoon and will be noticed as the hummingbirds return to seek out the morning flowering plant.)

picture of a 4 o'clock seed, still green

4 o’clock seed, still green

A day or two after the flower has dropped off, a small green seed will be visible — don’t pick these until the full dark color is observed (usually a day or two after the green seed becomes obvious (see green seed in the photo left).

 How to Store the Seeds.

Once the green plant tissue has been gently removed from the dark seed, place seeds in an envelope. I use envelopes because they allow air through so that moisture does not accumulate (as it would in a plastic bag). Although small envelopes can be purchased I create my own “seed” envelopes by cutting a long envelope into three sections, then fold and tape the edges to create the enclosure, and, finally, label with the contents (see photo below).

labelled seed envelope

labelled seed envelope

Store the seeds in a cool, dark, dry location. Pull out and plant in Spring!



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