Saving seed

Where to Find Mesh Bags for Seed Harvesting

Use an organza bag to catch flight-risk seeds. Photo:

Gardeners who harvest seeds for future crops often run into a problem: the seed pod opens without warning, releasing the seeds before they can collect them.

Many seeds have silky hairs that carry them away at maturity … unless you intervene. Photo: Eric Hunt, Flickr

This is particularly the case of seeds bearing silk-like hairs (dandelions and milkweeds, for example). They’re quickly carried off by the wind as soon as they ripen. Other plants have seed capsules that burst open almost violently at maturity and throw the seeds far and wide (impatiens, for example). And there are so many other examples.

For “flight-risk” seeds that may disappear into the wild before you have time to harvest them, it’s wise to cover the flower with a mesh bag that will prevent the seeds from escaping. Install the bag as soon as the flower fades, then, when the seeds are released, they’ll remain inside the bag and you’ll be able to harvest them at will.

Such bags can also be used to prevent flower pollination (a use mostly of interest to budding hybridizers who want to control which flower will be the pollen parent).

But where can you find the kind of bag you need: aerated (to prevent rot), yet weather resistant?

You can find inexpensive organza gift bags that make great seed-catchers. Photo:

Probably not your local garden center! Instead, try party supply stores, dollar stores or even the Internet. You’ll discover you can buy, at a very reasonable price, little organza gift bags with a ribbon as a drawstring. These bags are designed to prepare small bags of party gifts for children’s birthday parties, weddings, anniversaries, etc., but work very well as a gardening tool too. And you can use them again and again for many years.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

2 comments on “Where to Find Mesh Bags for Seed Harvesting

  1. They are darn cheap at the Dollar Tree (or comparable dollar store).

  2. What a great tip and something I hadn’t though about, way to go LG!

Leave a Reply

Sign up for the Laidback Gardener blog and receive articles in your inbox every morning!

%d bloggers like this: