Gaura plants do very well when grown from seeds. Many people prefer this method of propagation, as the plants make an abundance of seed pods every year.
To collect gaura seeds, wait for the plant to die back and the seedpods to form. Then, you can pluck the ripened pods from the stalk as they turn brown and brittle. You will need to visit the plant every few days, as the seeds don’t all ripen simultaneously.
Since gaura plants have a long, deep taproot system that does not lend itself to making root cuttings, seed saving is a great way to propagate the plants. This Gardener’s Guide gives you everything you need to know to successfully collect gaura seeds yourself, including storage tips and when to plant.
1. Gather Your Materials
When gathering gaura seeds, you’ll need a container to hold the seeds in while you pick them off the plant, as well as seed storage materials.
To gather and store your Gaura seeds, you’ll need the following:
- Garden gloves (optional)
- Medium-sized bowl
- Newspaper or other paper
- Breathable seed packets
- Seed storage box
Once you have gathered all of your materials, head out to the garden.
2. Wait for the Seeds To Ripen
For gaura seeds to be viable, they need to have fully ripened. Gaura seeds do not ripen simultaneously, so you must keep checking which seeds are ripe and which are not.
After its flowers have died back, gaura plants will form seedpods all along the stem. When the pods turn from green to brown and have a brittle feel to them, you know they are ripe.
Once you have a healthy amount of ripe seeds, you can begin collecting them.
3. Collect Seeds
To collect Gaura seeds, single out the ripe seed pods on the stalk. Gently pinch them free from the stalk, and drop them into your bowl.
You can also lightly run your hand up the stalk, exerting some pressure. Any ready seeds will simply pop off into your hand.
Since gaura seeds do not all mature at the same rate, you will need to come out every few days and gather more. Once all the seeds have ripened and been collected, then you can rest easy and wait for planting time.
4. Dry the Seeds
Before storing gaura seeds, you should leave them out to dry. This prevents the seeds from molding or respirating moisture while in storage.
Skipping this step can lead to disappointment, so be sure to take the time to dry the seeds out.
Place the seeds in a dark, dry space. A good spot might be a closet, cabinet, or garage. Lay them out on a newspaper or cardboard box.
Let the seeds sit for one to three weeks. How long you will leave them to dry depends on how humid your climate is. Drier climates require only a few days, while humid, wet conditions require two to three weeks.
5. Sort Into Seed Packets
There are many methods for storing seeds, but we find that Manila seed packets are the best. Seeds need to be kept dry, cool, and in the dark, or they will quickly lose viability.
To sort gaura seeds, leave them whole in the pod. The seed pod can be planted as is.
Place 10–20 seed pods per packet, leaving the top half of the packet empty. Label with the species, date, and location of the plant.
Now you are ready to store your seeds for long-term storage.
6. Store in a Cool, Dry Place
For long-term storage, seeds require cool temperatures, no moisture, and darkness. Keeping the seeds in this way will maintain their viability for as long as possible.
There are several methods for storing seeds long-term. You can expect the seeds to remain viable for at least a year, a maximum of five years.
It is important to note that old seeds are not spoiled; they will just have a low germination rate. You can still plant old seeds, but not all of them will grow.
Use a Seed Storage Box
The most fail-proof method is to use a commercial seed storage box, such as the SZLTZK 64 Slots Plastic Seed Storage Box (link to Amazon). You can use this semi-transparent plastic box to keep your seeds organized and safe from insects and pests.
If you prefer a more rugged option, a survival dry box like the MTM Survivor Dry Box with O-Ring Seal (link to Amazon) might be more suitable for you. It’s designed with a triple latch, ring seal, and compass. You can also attach it to a lanyard or shoulder strap.
Before using any of these storage boxes for your seeds, place the seeds in a packet first. Additional moisture absorbers like rice or silica gel packets can be placed in the box if desired.
Freeze the Seeds
Some people will place their seed packets into zip-lock bags or mason jars and keep them in the freezer. The cold temperature helps keep the seeds viable for longer.
This method works well if you know you will be using the entire contents of the jar or bag at once. Opening, closing, and re-freezing the seed jar or bag can create condensation and degrade the seeds.
When removing the seeds from the freezer, it is important to let them naturally warm to room temperature before opening the container. This process may take up to 12 hours.
Use a Wine Cooler
Many people use a wine or beverage cooler to store their seeds. If you plan on storing your Gaura seeds for more than one season, then I recommend trying this option.
You simply place your seed packets inside the cooler until you need them. You can also place the seeds inside of a box and place the box in the cooler if you want more protection.
If you use a box, be sure to bring the box up to room temperature before opening it. This will take a few hours.
7. Plant Your Seeds
Gaura seeds can be direct-sown in the fall or early spring. They need cold stratification to sprout, so direct sowing is the easiest option if you live in an area with cold winters.
If you live in a warm place year-round, try storing the seeds in a refrigerator for at least two weeks before planting. You can then sow the seeds outdoors or indoors in propagation trays.
Seed-saving from your Gaura plant is easy. As the seed pods ripen at different rates, it can be a great way to get outdoors in the fall, as you will need to visit the plant several times.
Once you have gathered your seeds, you can store them, sow them, and enjoy gauras year after year.