Depending on their variety, you can harvest and save allium seeds in late spring or late summer/early autumn.
To do so, you simply need to cut the seed heads after they’ve become exposed, dry them if necessary, and store them in a cool, dry place in the offseason.
Allium – a genus of flowering plants including cultivated garlic, scallions, onions, and more – produces a bulb of seeds when it blooms.
Many gardeners elect to save the seeds from these abundant sources and store them to replant during the next growing season.
And luckily, we’re sharing some of our most valuable tips for harvesting and saving allium seeds in this article.
Keep reading to learn things like when to harvest different allium seed varieties and what storage temperatures and conditions they need to remain viable.
When to Harvest Allium Seeds
Depending on the variety of cultivated allium you have, the ideal harvest time will vary.
Late Spring Seed Harvesting
In the later part of spring, you can harvest seed pods from varieties of alliums such as Purple Sensation and Gladiator.
And Purple Sensation alliums are one plant to think about planting if you haven’t already because they are great pollinator plants for the bees.
Meanwhile, Gladiator alliums are one of the tallest varieties of cultivated onions, and their blooms are also great attractors of bees.
Late Summer and Early Fall Seed Harvesting
When it comes to the end of summer, just on the brink of autumn, you will be able to harvest seed pods from wild onions.
Specific varieties include allium cernuum, also called the nodding wild onion or lady’s leek.
You can harvest its seeds slightly earlier than those of the autumn wild onion variety of allium.
Other varieties to harvest in this season include millennial allium and German/mountain garlic allium.
How to Harvest Allium Seeds
Allium seed pods generally contain more than one seed, and each bulb has many flowers that turn into seed pods.
So, a harvest of just one stalk often leads to more than enough seeds to plant allium varieties next year.
Also, many people believe you have to wait until the seed pods are completely withered and dry to collect the seeds.
However, waiting may leave the seeds susceptible to getting eaten by birds or other animal foragers.
To avoid this issue, you can actually cut the flower at its stem and bring it inside to harvest the seeds early.
But, note that if you try this method, you’ll need to dry the seeds more than if you didn’t cut them.
If you just plan to remove the seed pods, though, you can bring an envelope or paper bag out to the garden to collect them.
Simply use your fingers to pluck out or shake off the seeds into your chosen container.
And if you’re worried about damaging the seeds, you can always use scissors or gardening shears to cut off the bulb and take it inside.
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How to Dry Allium Seeds for Storage
The next step is to dry out and save your allium seeds.
It’s a pretty simple process to dry out the seeds, but it’s vital.
You should never try to skip this step because if you store seeds with any amount of moisture within them, they will mold, rot, or become unviable for the next growing season.
Yet, usually, this is only a problem if it has been particularly rainy or damp outside just before you pick the seeds.
But, you should always be careful.
Thus, to dry your seeds out fully, you need to pat them dry with a paper towel and set them out on a sunny windowsill.
You can also hang them to dry if you cut the entire stalk of allium.
And this method may be more efficient, as it lets the seeds naturally air dry with circulation.
Finally, once you are sure your seeds are completely dry, you can store them for next year.
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Storing and Labeling Allium Seeds
Properly storing your seeds is essential to maintaining their usability for the next season.
If dried seeds get too cold, too hot, or too wet in storage, you’ll likely face issues with germination when the time comes.
Therefore, you should keep your seeds at room temperature and in a dry place, like in a cupboard.
And you can put them inside of things like envelopes, seed containers, or other holders to store them.
However, airtight containers are best for seed storage.
Also, before you store your seeds, do the diligent task of labeling them, especially if you harvested different varieties.
Labeling is crucial with alliums because many varieties have almost identical seeds.
So, always write down the variety on your container or envelope.
But, you may need to do a little research to identify your specific variety if you don’t already have them labeled in your garden.
Yet, one great tip to know is that nodding wild onion allium seeds are shinier than other varieties.
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It’s easy to harvest and save different varieties of allium – cultivated onions, garlic, and other plants.
And these plants yield blooms with dozens of seed pods, which you can harvest in their respective seasons, dry out, and store in a safe place to use next year.