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25.8.10

How to Collect Viola Seeds

While violas will readily reseed in the garden I wanted to collect seeds from my Viola 'BlackJack' blooms as a backup because I was growing them in a small terracotta pot on my porch garden. Before I could collect seeds I had to make sure the blooms were pollinated. The tiny blooms on these plants made finding the right tool difficult, artist brushes were too large so I ended up using a hair from my beard. Yes, you read that right. It seems like a lot of trouble to go through for a garden annual but the seeds for these violas were kind of expensive.

How to collect viola seeds, Viola


The almost black flowers of Viola 'BlackJack' before being hand pollinated by me since small pollinators in the garden weren't paying them any attention. Inserting a hair into each of the opening and ensuring there was a coating of pollen on it was like threading a needle. I found that in my quest to collect viola seeds this was the hardest part of the process.

Viola seed pods,collecting viola seeds, how to collect viola seeds

After a few days the violas began to form seed pods. If you're trying to figure out where the seeds are on viola plants just look for the sepals or spent blooms. When the pod is brown and crispy you can safely remove it from the stem and break it open to release the seeds, then set the seeds out to dry.

Collecting viola seeds in the garden, viola seed pod

Here is another photo of a viola seed pod that I collected seeds from. As you can see the seed pod has split open.

Two collected viola seed pods, what to viola seeds look like?

Another photo showing two viola seed pods I collected from my container garden. Both of the seed pods are ripe and reveal a cluster of small, tan-colored seeds inside of each pod. Unlike other seed pods I don't find that I had to keep a constant eye on the developing seed pods to catch them when they were just ripen enough. The seed pods pictured here had been open for a few days and even managed to hold onto their seeds during a rainy spell. Collecting viola seeds isn't hard once you know where to look for the developing seeds on your plants. If you combine the seeds you collect every year with the seed you purchase every spring you'll have plenty of edible flowers in the garden. Or you could share the seeds with gardening friends, swap the seeds you save for seeds you don't already have with other gardeners.

See my post on How to Save Seeds. In it you'll find tips for the beginner gardener who would like to save seeds.

14 comments:

  1. Very cool MBT! It's such a pretty bloom - definitely worth the effort.

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  2. I love the viola. One of my many favorite plants. I must go check mine to see if I can collect seed.

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  3. What a beautiful flower! I don't think they grow here...boo hooo hoo!!!

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  4. Now thats an interesting way to do it. Beard hair you say? ;)

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  5. Hmm. Interesting pollination technique you have there, MBT. Did you let your beard grow just for this purpose and did you snip or pluck a hair? I wonder what your neighbors heard and thought if it was the latter.

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  6. I think seeds make great gifts. But then, I'm a big fan of free, haha.

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  7. oh good advice since I'm hoping to collect such seeds in a couple of months :)

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  8. I really like how you include text in your images to describe the scene better. I wish more people did that.
    I'll probably be trying violas myself this winter, since I'll be trying cool season annuals for the first time this year. Thanks for the tips!

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  9. @Garden Girl, I'm hoping they plants next year come true to seed. I do really like this bloom.

    @That Blooming Garden, Make sure to check so you don't miss any seeds.

    @Julie, That's too bad. Viola wouldn't even grow in your fall garden?

    @Laura, Yeah. Desperate times call for desperate measure. :0)

    @Walk2Write, No. I just hadn't shaved and couldn't find a brush small enough. Even a Q-tip which I use to hand pollinate in a pinch was too wide.

    @Liz, Seems like our gardening philosophies are aligned then, 'cause I took like free things.

    @MaryC, Good luck with saving seeds from your violas.

    @Rainforest Gardener, Thanks. I try to make the gardening advice as simple to understand without dumbing it down.

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  10. hey mbt, i was wondering once you have the pollen on the hair was is the basic process after that? do you have to put the pollen you collected from one flower onto another or one other part? thanks mate

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  11. @Rhys, In this example I put it on the same flower but I also put it on the other flowers to make sure there was plenty of cross pollination.

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  12. Rhys Connell9:41 AM

    @mbt where on the flower did you put it? i am finding it hard to get pollen as well lol looks like i will have to try harded!

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  13. @Rhys,
    Yeah, it may be a little difficult but swirl it around the center of the flower. You'll have to make sure you really get in there. Try a Qtip or a really small brush. Be vigorous with it to make sure you dislodge the pollen.

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  14. Anonymous4:32 AM

    Hi, violas are actually very easy to propagate from cuttings. Take non-flowering one, possible the newest shoot, or pinch the flower/bud from it, if it started to flower. You can leave the bud, but the shoot then will spend energy for growing the flower rather than root.
    I did it with mine as they have been flowering from February and this month they will finish. This is less time consuming method than growing them from seeds.

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