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23.7.10

How To Collect Black-Eyed Susan Vine Seeds

In the previous post about growing Black-Eyed Susan Vine I posted a picture of a developing seed pod on my Black-Eyed Susan Vine. If you're growing Black-Eyed Susan Vine then chances are good that soon you'll have Thunbergia alata seeds-if you know where to find them on the vine and how to collect them. Knowing how to collect Black-Eyed Susan Vine seeds is more important than knowing when to collect the seeds. 

Black-Eyed Susan Vine flowers are tubular-shaped and pollinated by pollinators with long tongues. After the bloom fades you'll be able to tell whether it was pollinated or not within a day or two.

Black-Eyed Susan Vine Flowers, thunbergia alata plant, images Thunbergia alata

The developing seed pod is covered by a sepal that looks a bit like a tomatillo husk. Identifying the seeds and seed pod is easy. The Black-Eyed Susan Vine seed pod looks a bit like, well, you know. 

Thunbergia alata seed pod developing

If your bloom wasn't pollinated it will quickly start to turn brown and the sepal will fall off the vine. The Sepal of a flower that has been pollinated will remain green longer as the seed pod inside develops.

Thunbergia alata seed pod

Here's why saving Black-Eyed Susan Vine seeds is hard and why buying any Thunbergia alata seeds are so expensive. They're hard to collect! The seed pods burst open, sending the seed inside the pod a very long distance. One day you have a developing seed pod.

Released Black-Eyed Susan Vine seeds, Thunbergia alata seeds

The next day all you have is a stem where your seed pod was. So, how do you collect Black-Eyed Susan Vine seeds? The easiest way to ensure that you'll collect seeds is to learn to identify where the seeds develop and encase the seed pod in something. Wrap it up.

How to collect Black-Eyed Susan Vine seeds


Yes, this looks funny, but it is necessity. As I said: Thunbergia alata's seed dispersal mechanism will send your seed flying across the garden. The ejected seed will land in soil, but most of the time the seed will go to waste. Do not rely on the color of the seed pod to determine if the seed is ripe. Don't wait until the seed pod looks "crispy," like with so many other plants in your garden. If you wait until the seed pod looks just right it may be too late. Normally I would've used something like muslin or a piece of old nylon hoses, but when I spotted this seed pod I was in a hurry and a napkin was all I had to hold my seed pod in place. Used tea bags work great: just open one up and cover the seed pod with it. Use the string to secure the opening so the seed doesn't fall out.

Thunbergia alata seeds Black-Eyed Susan Vine seeds

Here is that your seed looks like. Thunbergia alata seeds are small, round, dark and resemble peppercorn. The next time the price of a single seed pack of Black-Eyed Susan Vine seeds makes you wince consider how much trouble they are to collect. When you know how to collect Black-Eyed Susan Vine seeds you'll have more seeds than you know what to do with. The prolific blooming of this vine assures a healthy crop of seeds in a single growing season- if you know where to look for them and how to save them before they're ejected from the pod. One day you could be standing before your hanging basket of Black-Eyed Susan Vine admiring the cheerful bloom and the next thing you know one of the seeds has hit you in the eye.

Related Post:
Black-Eyed Susan Vine, Thunbergia Alata. Information on how to grow Black-Eyed Susan Vine. See my post on How to Save Seeds. In it you'll find tips for the beginner gardener who would like to save seeds. 

Video on Collecting Black-Eyed Susan Vine Seeds.


35 comments:

  1. Oh really great how to post! Thanks!

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  2. that's a nice tip, thanks! That is hard to collect.

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  3. Ballistic seed dispersal rules! Will you please save a few besv seeds for me?

    I was really taken with the pattern in the stairs of that $4.9 mill house--you should see how many non-garden architecture photos I didn't post--but will in an upcoming OOTS post. Holla!

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  4. Thanks for the video! It really helped me to fully understand the process (yes those tedious steps!). I may not get a chance to harvest such seed but it is interesting to know every step/precaution to take. Have restful and great weekend MBT!

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  5. Hosta-hating notwithstanding, I love seeing the instructions on seed-saving. Your posts really took the mystery out of saving seeds from flowers for me, something I was always a little reluctant to try. But here's a question--is it better to save seeds, or divide plants? What are the upsides/downsides of the two methods of propagation for a gardener?

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  6. I just found this blog and love your tips on the thunbergia! I especially like your descriptions within the photos. Can't wait to read more!

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  7. This is really interesting! Great photos. I really need to work on saving my own seeds. I think it would be so much more meaningful.

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  8. Thanks! This was really helpful to me! Now that the garden judges have been by my house, it won't matter anymore that there are napkins taped all over my vine in the barrel pot on the front drive. Lol! Maybe I'll see if I can find some old nylon ;)

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  9. Now we have a voice to go with the blog! You should have your own gardening show on PBS or HGTV. You might need an adult warning to go along with those seed pod images, though:) If you have enough seeds to spare, could you send me some? I would love to try growing it in Florida.

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  10. @Mary C. & @Meemsnyc,

    Thanks, hope you found it useful.

    @Monica,

    If I get more than a couple I'll save you some.

    @Stephanie,

    Yeah, it is a bit tedious but it is nice to know some seed saving info because it could be applied to other seeds. A lot of plants have a seed disperal mechanism that sends the seeds flying a great distance.

    @Xan,

    It depends on the plant. In most cases I would say do both, because you'll end up with more plants. Although, sometimes saving seeds is easier because you have to wait a few years for the plants to get big enough to divide. In that time you could've started a bunch of more plants with the seeds.

    @Wendy,

    Saving your own seeds does add a little bit of meaning to a plant. Oftentimes you can remember the days, and events surrounding it, you collected the seeds and the plants have more meaning.

    @Laura,

    Nylon works great with these too as spent tea bags I've found.

    @Walk2Write,

    LOL. Sure if I get enough I've save you a couple, they do really good in Florida.

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  11. Thanks for the tip; my thunbergia has just finally started blooming again after getting too little sun for a while, so it will be great to get the seeds for next year! I just collected some seeds today out on a walk and don't know what they are--round and flat like a lunaria seed pod, but with two brown seeds in each. Any ideas?

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  12. What happened to the 'Spitfire' seed grow project site Mr. BT? I've blogged about mine and clicked the link to the "Grow Project" only to find something about a book review offer, a canceled book review offer at that, and no comments by the participants in the Grow Project.

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  13. @Charissa V,
    I'd have to see a picture in order to even guess. Can you upload a picture to something like Flickr?

    @TC,

    You're a little early. The seedGROW posts are the first Sunday. So,this weekend is the time of August's posts.

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  14. Thank you so much for this post! I have been growing Thunbergia for my Mom for several years, and it is one of the more expensive seeds that I order every year. I will be keeping an eye out for seeds!!

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  15. I'm sorry...I am not quite clear on WHEN to cover the sepal. I went out and covered 4-5 sepals and I went to look at one today and the pod was blooming inside of the covering I used.
    ? There are sepals that have nothing in them (like photo 4) but still green and I assume that is too late right? The ones I covered look like photo 2...but why did it bloom? Help me please, I am not a gardener but I want to save seeds to my "african sunset"

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  16. @Sarah,

    You're welcomed. Glad you're thinking of saving your own seed and a few dollars.

    @Amanda, Maybe the reason one was blooming inside was because you accidentally covered one you didn't intend to cover? If you're having trouble figuring out which one to cover wait until the bloom starts to shrivel, then cover it. Also, if push aside the sepals and don't see anything forming inside, then don't bother with that one because it wasn't pollinated.

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  17. Anonymous1:33 PM

    Most excellent post TBT. I'm a Brit living in Germany with my wife's Grandmother upstairs. We share a courtyard. Last year Granny planted a BES in the same box as the Honeysuckle and Ivy. The Ivy barely survived. I haven't seen the Honeysuckle since. A pretty plant but terribly invasive. This year she got one as a present and I banned her from planting it anywhere near other climbing plants. Now it's on her doorstep, in a pot, climbing to the sky on invisible fishing line. But, the sister-in-law asked me today about seeds etc., so hence finding your blog. A bit of a ramble from but top stuff from you. Danke.

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    Replies
    1. Glad you found the post on saving Black-eyed Susan vine seeds, and that it was useful to you. Good luck controlling Granny's plants. :0)

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  18. This is great! My MIL gifted us with 2 of these vines for our trellis arch and I was wondering about collecting seed. I'm a total novice, so this was extremely helpful. Thank you!

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    Replies
    1. You're welcomed. Hope you managed to save a lot of seeds from your Black-eyed Susan vine.

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  19. Anonymous11:21 AM

    Hello. Great post. Can these flowers be pollinated "manually"? None of my booms seem to be pollinated. Thanks, Mario.

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    Replies
    1. Mario, sorry for the late reply, but yes you can easily pollinate Black-eyed Susan vine flowers with a small artists brush or something similar.

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  20. This was great! I do have a question. Is the seed pod from a flower that has already bloomed and died?

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    Replies
    1. Erika, Yeah, the seed pod only forms after the flower has been pollinated. The petals of the flower fall off leaving only the ovary of the plant to develop the seed inside.

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  21. Hey there Mr. Brown Thumb; I have been learning SO MUCH about seed-saving from your blog. Really appreciate it. Just wondering if you know whether the seeds can be harvested before they're ejected? I have a black eyed susan vine and find that I am able to snap off the.. er... phallic bit and gently peel back the flesh of the pod to reveal the black seeds inside. Do you think they're usable, or should I just be patient and do it the right way? Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Glad you're finding the seed saving posts useful. The seeds shouldn't be harvested from the Black-eyed Susan Vine before they are ready. Doing so would lead to immature seed that isn't ready to be harvested. It is best to cover the seed pod so you trap the seed when the Black-eyed Susan is ready to eject them.

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  22. donna2:58 PM

    I live in Virginia. A vine growing in my yard, has green pods on it. The skin is kinda like a lime skin, on the inside is black seeds inside a juicy like holder. It is soft to the touch and smells like a pear or green walnut. It is juicy also. They don't drop off, they just wither up and dry out. What are they.

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    Replies
    1. Donna, I'm sorry to say I don't know what your seed could be without pictures.

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  23. I live in Oregon. I have purchased seeds and spent to much money on baskets of BESusan's. I no longer spend the money, instead I collect the seed pods and grow these pretty flowers for myself. What works very well for me is to pick the pods off the plant once they are past the small lime green stage. I pick them when they are larger and more of a dark green in color I do this before they get dry and pop their seeds out. I have never put a bag over them, I hadn't heard that before. Once I pick them, I put them on a flat surface and COVER THEM, so they can dry and pop out dark brown seeds. I then store the seeds in a brown paper sack until real early Spring when I plant them inside until they are 6 to 8 inches in height.

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  24. Anonymous10:58 AM

    Will the vining Susan's self sow in zone 5?

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  25. Anonymous3:50 PM

    thank you so much for the advice. now I will never have to buy another b.e.susan vine again.....i'm happy happy happy

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  26. Sandy4:33 PM

    Instead of covering the seed pods on the vine, I collect them and place them in a microwave container (the kind with the vent in the lid). I loosely cover the container and open the vent to allow air to circulate, otherwise they mildew and get furry. When the seeds are ready, they "pop" inside the container, keeping the seeds contained safely inside. I have collected hundreds of black-eyed susan seeds this way!

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  27. If you grow thunbergia in a pot, once the season is done, bring the plant inside and let it die. It will make a mess while it's dying, but you'll find the broken open seed pods and lots of seeds. Maybe some plastic under the dying plant would help to contain the mess and collect the seeds. It was my first year growing thunbergia, but now I plan to grow this in pots on either side of my front door every year!

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  28. Candy Hill7:36 PM

    Thank you Mr. Brown for the information on collecting the seeds from the thunbergia. I plan on collecting the seeds and growing my own next year. I do have a question on other plant and how to collect the seeds on them. Do you give advice on collecting the seeds on other plants. Thanks Again

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  29. Love the article and video! My vines rarely produce seeds. I know what they look like as I have collected one seed each year....
    I don't know how to identify which pod will have a seed if I don't see the green seed pot.
    I don't know why my plants don't produce more seeds - the plant this year is growing into massive blooms. I don't know how to pollinate these as you mentioned with a paintbrush. When do you do it? What does the growing part look like. I assume after it flowers, it's too late. If you hand pollinate, how do you know which flower pods are male or female? I have read lots about pollinating flowering plants, but I'm stumped on the BSV. Please help!!

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