How to save seeds from Oenothera flava, Night Blooming Primrose

Saving the Seeds of Night Blooming Primrose

One of the most popular posts on my blog has been the profile I wrote of Night Blooming Primrose (latin: Oenothera flava).

Oenothera flava

It seems like a lot of people want this crazy plant that blooms before your eyes, but the plants and even seeds seem to be hard to find. Someone asked if I could share seeds from mine, and I had to admit that I had never actually even seen seeds on my plant. Of course I knew they must set seeds somehow, but the flower heads certainly don’t ripen and create seed heads like so many other flowers (including Nigella). Hmm, a plant mystery!

 

Once my plants bloomed this year I started watching them to figure out how they were reproducing. I discovered that there are seeds, but they form at the very base of the plant, instead of where the bloom was!

 

In the following two pictures you can see how the dried out stem from an old flower is connected to the top of the seed pod:

 

For best results, I believe the seed heads should remain on the plant until they fully ripen (i.e. get as big as possible and then dry out). However, in the interests of science, I picked a couple of them in their not quite ripe stage to dissect:

 

 

You can see the individual seeds lined up neatly inside the seed pods—I was surprised at their bright pink colour.

 

 

I’m going to continue to monitor the seed pods still on my plants so that I can pick them off once they ripen. I’ll update this post once I do so that you can see how they should look when it’s time to collect them if you want to save them to plant yourself or if you want to share these funky plants with your friends.

 

Once you’ve collected the ripe seeds they should be stored in a dry place until you’re ready to plant them.

1 Comment

  1. Esther Allen on August 10, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    This is so interesting, regarding “harvesting” the seed pods. I remember my mom giving us kids the “chore” of picking the spent blooms and stems off the plants the following day. I’m sure she didn’t realize that is where the seeds originated. However it never seemed to have been an issue as the plants grew like weeds in the garden. I remember in the spring we had to be ever so careful as to not pull them out while weeding thinking they we’re dandelions!!

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