19 Plants with Ornamental Seed Pods


Ornamental seed pods are commonly used as a beautiful accent in florist bouquets. But did you ever consider harnessing their beauty in your garden? Many flowers are just as, if not more, beautiful once they’ve gone to seed. These multi-purpose plants provide beauty throughout the spring and summer, and then, just when you think they’re spent, produce beautiful seed pods that are visually pleasing, too. 

Seed pods are a protective shell that encapsulates the seeds until it’s time for them to spread. They form on many different species of flowering plants, trees, annual flowers, and ornamental grasses. 

When left on the plant, they add a new layer of design beauty to the fall garden. Let’s discuss 19 plants that produce attractive ornamental seed pods that will provide beauty to your garden, dried bouquets, and various crafts. 

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Starflower/Pincushion Flower Seeds

Love-In-A-Mist Delft Blue Seeds

Peony Double Blend Poppy

Starflower 

A close-up reveals a starflower seed pod, its brown hue vivid against the backdrop, forming a circle. In the blurred background, a multitude of seed pods, accompanied by leaves and slender stems, paints a portrait of botanical abundance and growth.
Grown for its papery seed pods, starflowers mature into light blue scabiosa flowers in 75-95 days.
botanical-name
botanical name


Scabiosa stellata
sun-requirements
sun requirements


Full sun 
height
height


1 ½ – 3 feet
hardiness-zones
hardiness zones


8-11

This cold-hardy annual is grown specifically for its papery ornamental seed pods. They are a unique tan bronze, perfectly globe-shaped, and resemble a lollipop full of tiny cupcake wrappers. The center of each of the “wrappers” features a small, dark star formation. 

Also known as drumstick flowers and mourning brides, starflowers take 75-95 days to mature into a light blue scabiosa flower, which can be used for fresh cutting flowers. They prefer full sun and may require staking for their thin stems. Place them along borders or a fence line in the back of an annual garden. Transplanting is recommended. 

Harvest them once the centers of the globe seed pods are still a bit green, and the center has just begun to darken. Otherwise, the seedhead may shatter and be unusable. Use them in everlasting bouquets or display them in a vase with other dried flowers. 

Common Milkweed 

milkweed seed pods open to reveal cottony seeds.
Vital for monarch butterflies, milkweed flowers develop horn-like seed pods that crack open in fall.
botanical-name
botanical name


Asclepias fascicularis (aka Asclepias mexicana)
sun-requirements
sun requirements


Full sun 
height
height


1-3 feet
hardiness-zones
hardiness zones


6-10

Milkweed flowers are beautiful, can grow anywhere, are vital to monarch butterfly populations as the larva’s only food source, and form beautiful seed pods to boot. After the flowers have bloomed, large horn-like seed pods appear.

The pods are full of silky hairs and, eventually, hundreds of seeds. The pods will crack open in the fall once the seeds are fully dry, then nature will take charge, spreading the seeds in the wind

Love-In-A-Mist

Blue love-in-a-mist flowers stand out against lush green feathery leaves, their delicate petals gracefully unfolding. In the blurred background, a sea of these flowers and foliage creates a tranquil, enchanting scene.
Direct sow love-in-a-mist for continuous blooms and the harvest balloon-shaped capsules for seeds.
botanical-name
botanical name


Nigella damascena
sun-requirements
sun requirements


Full sun 
height
height


15-24 inches
hardiness-zones
hardiness zones


2-11

This is one of the most unique annual flowers to grow. When in bloom, this variety of nigella features pale cream, pink, and blue flowers with thin stems and wispy foliage, similar to fennel. Their centers have thread-like (misty) bracts protruding. Pair them with mixed bachelor’s buttons for a bright summer bouquet. 

Direct sowing is recommended, as roots prefer not to be disturbed. Keep sowing love-in-a-mist every few weeks for a continuous supply of fresh flowers and pods. Add love-in-a-mist to fairy or cottage gardens, in mass, or around a patio. This flower looks good before, during, and after its peak blooming period and can be used fresh or dried. Plants will easily self-seed. 

It takes about 85 days to develop the balloon-shaped capsules, which contain five fused true seedpods. They’re about two inches long with purple and bronze striping. Harvest them when the striping is apparent and hang them to dry in a cool, dark place for a few weeks. If you hope to save the seeds, place the pods in a brown bag with holes punched in it. 

Poppy

A pink poppy blooms gracefully, its delicate petals unfurling in full splendor, catching the light. In the background, a blur reveals a cluster of similar flowers, each standing tall amidst lush, verdant foliage.
These flowers have a rich history of medicinal and decorative use.
botanical-name
botanical name


Papaver spp.
sun-requirements
sun requirements


Full sun 
height
height


3-5 feet
hardiness-zones
hardiness zones


4+, some cultivars are hardy in zones 2 and 3

Poppies planted in mass or mixed into a cutting garden make such a statement with their bright, bold colors and dark centers. With lots of different species, colors, and sizes, there’s a lot to discover. Poppies are magical when their flowers are in bloom, but there’s something so whimsical and almost cartoon-like about their seed pods. About 80-90 days after planting, flowering begins

Poppies have been around for thousands of years and are used for culinary, medicinal, and decorative purposes. Each plant forms pods from its flowers, with one central pod called “the hen” and other smaller ones called “the chicks.” The pods are blueish-green, resembling paper mâché globes, and sit atop stiff stems.

They have a natural way of holding seeds in place, with just a few tiny holes in the top that will let seeds out when the pods are tipped over. Harvest the whole pod and dump the seeds out to save for later use. Then, display the pods in a vase or add them to an everlasting bouquet. Each pod may contain thousands of seeds. 

False Indigo

A close-up revealing the unique seed pods of False Indigo, characterized by their elongated shapes and subtle textures. The green leaves, gracefully adorning the branches, provide a lush backdrop, underscoring the plant's botanical elegance in both its reproductive structures and foliage.
Featuring blue-violet flowers, false indigo grows tall and blooms from April to June.
botanical-name
botanical name


Baptisia australis
sun-requirements
sun requirements


Full sun 
height
height


3-4 feet
hardiness-zones
hardiness zones


3-9

The true and original false indigo features amazingly blue-violet flowers on tall, spiky stalks that bloom from April to June. This perennial offers great height for the back of a cutting or cottage garden and along fence lines. Ensure full access to the sun to avoid plants becoming leggy.

There are hybrids available that feature yellow flowers and more compact growing habits. To create new plants, the quickest way to propagate is by taking stem cuttings. Flowering may take a few years. 

The pods resemble two to three-inch-long pea pods and turn a dark purple, almost black, once they’re mature. The seeds rattle when they blow around in the wind. If left in place, these pods will serve as an important food source for local birds who stick around all winter, such as chickadees, and add interest to your winter landscape.  

Spotted Touch-Me-Not

A close-up of Garden Balsam's seed pods, boasting an elegant oval shape. The greenery features serrated leaves, framing the pods with vibrant foliage. The blurred background adds depth, capturing a lush environment that complements the delicate, organic structure of Garden Balsam.
The spotted touch-me-not is a tall wildflower crucial for hummingbirds and small mammals.
botanical-name
botanical name


Impatiens capensis
sun-requirements
sun requirements


Partial to full shade 
height
height


3-5 feet
hardiness-zones
hardiness zones


2-11

This native wildflower is a tall annual featuring unique, bright golden and orangish-red cornucopia-shaped flowers with spots on the inside and large, teethed leaves. Spotted touch-me-nots are named for the way their seed pods burst when they’re touched. The genus in Latin translates to “impatience.” Their nicknames include Jewelseed, Snapweed, and Spotted Snap Weed. 

Wildlife lovers, take note: the spotted touch-me-not nectar is vital to the ruby-throated hummingbird, consisting of 5-10% of its diet. They have an easy time feeding on the long, tubular flowers. Small critters like mice and white-tailed deer feed on their seeds in the late fall and winter. 

Flowers are in bloom from July to September, lasting only a day or so each. Sometimes, plants will contain flowers, buds, and pods simultaneously. The pods are pale green and about an inch long, containing three to five seeds each. When touched, they spring open, tossing out their seeds. This safety mechanism helps guarantee the next generation if an animal comes by to graze on its pods. 

Greater Quaking Grass 

A close-up reveals the intricate details of a solitary greater quaking grass, its slender stalks adorned with green seed heads. Under the caress of the sun's rays, the scene captures the tranquility of nature.
With light to medium green blades, greater quaking grass is a drought-tolerant perennial.
botanical-name
botanical name


Briza maxima
sun-requirements
sun requirements


Full sun 
height
height


20-30 inches
hardiness-zones
hardiness zones


5-10

This tall ornamental grass is gorgeous all season long. The blades are light to medium green as they mature. As it dries, the blades transition to a golden straw color. Greater quaking grass is a drought-tolerant perennial that’s easy to grow and hardy. 

Small, ½ – 1 inch long, lantern-like seedheads form along the stems, causing them to droop down a bit with weight. Resembling strung lights, these seedheads blow gently in the wind. Although they won’t be the sturdiest item in your bouquet, they’ll add a whimsical feel.

Harvest seed heads before they’ve shed pollen when they’re still a bit green to avoid shattering. 

Garden Angelica 

A sunlit garden angelica plant adorned with clusters of green flowers, adding a touch of natural elegance to the scene. In the blurred background, additional garden angelica plants create a lush, verdant scene.
This resembles an active firework with pale green greenery and deep pink stems.
botanical-name
botanical name


Angelica archangelica
sun-requirements
sun requirements


Full sun to partial shade
height
height


3-6 feet
hardiness-zones
hardiness zones


5-8

This herbaceous biennial is commonly called wild celery and Norwegian angelica, mostly grown for its sweet stems and roots. It resembles an active firework or umbrella, similar to Queen Anne’s lace and Ammi Dara, which makes sense as it’s part of the carrot family.

It has pale green greenery and deep pink stems. Angelica produces foliage only in year one, blooming in year two and beyond. Add her amongst bright annuals, ornamental grasses, or along a garden border for textural interest.

Fruits form at the tips of the umbellets, similar to alliums. It’s important not to mistake Garden Angelica for Wild Angelica as its fruits are not edible. Key differences are:

  • 20% longer pods with a white membranous edge
  • Fruits appear later in the summer
  • Veins are often tinted purple
  • Leaves are always three-paired
  • Flowers are white or pink
  • Stockier pods
  • Fruits appear earlier
  • Veins are always green
  • Leaves are only sometimes three-paired and are longer, narrower
  • Flowers are green

Teasel

A close-up of three spiky teasel buds, vivid green against a blurred field background, stand out with their intricate spiky stems. Among them, the middle teasel captures attention with promising purple blooms.
A unique and stunning ornamental, teasel attracts pollinators with its purple blooms.
botanical-name
botanical name


Dipsacus sativus
sun-requirements
sun requirements


Full sun 
height
height


3-8 feet
hardiness-zones
hardiness zones


4-8

Although teasel technically has a standard seedhead, it’s such a unique and stunning ornamental that I’ve included it here. Sometimes called Indian teasel or Fuller’s teasel, it’s an awesome cutting flower for fresh and dried bouquets and crafts. 

Teasel is easy to start from seed, and it’s recommended to sow directly outside. It’s deer-resistant and, once well-established, drought-resistant as well. Pollinators love the purple blooms that appear in summer to early fall, each bloom lasting about a month, starting at the bottom of the cone and working its way up. As the plants mature, the stems become stiff and erect. 

The spiky, almost tropical-looking, purple-tinted seedheads will transition to a straw-brown heading into winter and can be left in place. The wind will scatter some seeds, while birds will feed on the rest. 

This plant is, however, considered an invasive weed in western parts of the United States. If you live in this region, consult your local extension office before planting.

Lupine

A close-up reveals vibrant green hairy pods of the lupine plant, bathed in sunlight. Delicate stems intertwine with lush green leaves, creating a captivating botanical scene. The surrounding greenery enhances the natural beauty of the lupine.
With their vibrant pea-like flowers, lupines are vital for spring pollinators.
botanical-name
botanical name


Lupinus perennis
sun-requirements
sun requirements


Full sun to partial shade
height
height


18-24 inches
hardiness-zones
hardiness zones


3-8

Lupine is one of the most stunning spring bloomers, boasting a range of bright, bold-colored, pea-like flowers on stiff spikes. They’re an important food source for spring pollinators and returning birds and look incredible in mass or alongside tulips. 

As the pods dry on the stalk, they become darker brown and slightly opaque. On a sunny day, you should be able to see the large, dark seeds inside. Once they’re rattling around in the wind and the leaves have desiccated, it’s time to harvest! Any sooner, and the seeds may not germinate. Don’t wait too long, or these ornamental seed pods will crack open to release their seeds. 

Gently pop the pod open and remove the dried seeds. To propagate new plants from seed, the hard shells benefit from scarification or soaking for proper germination. Seeds won’t all germinate simultaneously, ranging from two weeks to two months, so be patient. 

Chinese Lanterns

A close-up reveals orange Chinese lanterns delicately dangling from slender stems, their papery textures catching the light. The lanterns are nestled amidst green leaves, creating a picturesque scene of natural elegance and botanical beauty.
These plants should be grown cautiously due to their aggressive spreading.
botanical-name
botanical name


Physalis alkekengi 
sun-requirements
sun requirements


Full sun
height
height


1-2 feet
hardiness-zones
hardiness zones


3-9

Often confused with their edible cousin, tomatillos, Physalis ixocarpa, Chinese lanterns are the only species of P. alkekengi. Although they both contain berries or seeds, P. alkekengi seeds should not be consumed by humans. 

This plant can spread aggressively, so be cautious of its planting location. It’s advised to grow it in containers or areas away from manicured garden beds and vegetables. Dig up and divide the rhizomes in the spring to prevent them from taking over. 

Throughout the summer months, Chinese lanterns will boast mostly greenery with small white flowers. Bright reddish-orange papery and incandescent lanterns form in the spring, just in time for Halloween decorations and crafting. Cut stems to the ground and hang them to dry, or simply display them as is in a vase. Seeds are disc-like, resembling tomato seeds. Dried husks can last several years if properly cared for. 

North American Wisteria 

A close-up exhibits tender purple flowers of American wisteria blooming gracefully and exuding elegance. Rich green leaves provide a striking backdrop, complementing the vibrant floral display. The intricate balance of blooms and foliage captivates the observer's gaze.
A tall vine needing ample space and support, wisteria bears lightly scented pea-like flowers.
botanical-name
botanical name


Wisteria frutescens
sun-requirements
sun requirements


Full sun to partial shade
height
height


15-40 feet
hardiness-zones
hardiness zones


5-9

Wisteria is a lovely plant that makes quite a statement when planted alone. It needs lots of space to spread out and vine, getting quite tall, and will require strong support. The leaves are medium green and alternate, and the pale, purple, or white pea-like flowers are lightly scented. 

The ornamental seed pods are pea-like and form in late summer and fall. Seeds inside the pods will either be fuzzy or smooth, and the difference will indicate the plant’s origin. Fuzzy seeds are Asian (Wisteria sinensis, Wisteria floribunda) varieties, and smooth seeds are from North America. Seeds shouldn’t be allowed to drop but rather snipped off and used ornamentally. 

Pods are elongated, uniquely twisted, and medium brown when ripe. Propagation from seeds is not advised as it may take up to 15 years. If you want to create new plants more quickly, contact your local nursery or take cuttings. 

Caper Bush

A close-up of a purple stem embellished with green leaves and budding flowers from the caper bush, positioned against a softly blurred backdrop of verdant foliage. Delicate white petals grace the flowers, boasting tall, elegant purple stamens at their center.
The caper plant, an heirloom perennial, produces pickled delicacies and attracts pollinators.
botanical-name
botanical name


Capparis spinosa
sun-requirements
sun requirements


Full sun 
height
height


2-3 feet
hardiness-zones
hardiness zones


8-10

Capers are a delicious pickled delicacy, but did you know the plant that produces it is a stunning heirloom flowering perennial that attracts pollinators? It’s surprisingly easy to care for in warm climates with little to no water and lots of sun. 

Allow your caper bush three to six feet to spread out, like in a rock garden. Prune it to the shape and size you’d like and fertilize during the first few years as it gets established. After that, it can thrive in areas with low fertility and adapt to all kinds of soil. 

Ornamental, two to three-inch white flowers with stunning purple stamens bloom in the spring. If buds aren’t picked, blooming will continue into fall, but each flower only lasts a day or two. To encourage more blooms, prune heavily in late fall and don’t pick the buds during the season.

Grow caper bushes from seed, young plants, or cuttings. Capers should be ready to harvest in year two. Harvest in the morning when buds are about ¼ inch wide and are dark green. Salt, fry, or pickle them before consuming them after you’ve dried them out in the sun or low-temperature oven. 

Columbine  

A close-up of Aquilegia seed heads unveils their crownlike formations, resembling nature's regal design. Clusters of seed heads gracefully adorn branches, capturing the essence of Aquilegia's unique and ornate reproductive structures.
Also known as European crowfoot and granny’s bonnet, Columbines can be paired with poppies.
botanical-name
botanical name


Aquilegia vulgaris
sun-requirements
sun requirements


Full sun to partial shade
height
height


1-3 feet
hardiness-zones
hardiness zones


3-8

Columbines are often called European crowfoot and granny’s bonnet because of their downward-tilted bloom. They easily hybridize and are available in many different shapes, sizes, and colors. Pair them with poppies, phlox, or foxgloves. 

These perennials will bloom for three to five years and will readily self-seed to supply new generations of plants. As flowers mature, you can witness the ornamental seed pods beginning to develop in the center of the bloom. Petals wither away, and the tubular pods close up, facing the sky.

If you look at the seed pods from above, you’ll notice a star formation. As the seeds inside dry, you may be able to see and hear them. Pods will keep on the stem for quite a while but harvest them before they begin to crack open. Otherwise, they’ll blow away in the wind. Simply shake the seeds out and save them for next year’s sowing, or store them in the pod after it’s completely dried. 

Silver Dollar / Money Plant

A close-up reveals Lunaria plant's unripe green seed pods, showcasing their circular form. The seed pods, resembling delicate coins, adorn slender branches that extend gracefully. The branches exhibit a subtle interplay of light and shadow, enhancing the intricate beauty of Lunaria.
These produce striking coin-shaped pods resembling moons when ripe.
botanical-name
botanical name


Lunaria annua
sun-requirements
sun requirements


Full sun to partial shade
height
height


2-3 feet
hardiness-zones
hardiness zones


5-9

This flowering biennial blooms in its second year. Lovely white or lavender flowers appear in clusters along stiff, tall stems. When the blooms of the silver dollar plant are spent, flattened green, coin-shaped pods form in their place. Not super exciting yet, but just wait!

Lunaria’s name comes from the Latin word luna, meaning moon, which its seed pods resemble when ripe. As they ripen under the green outer coating, the pods become a flashy, iridescent whitish-silver that shimmers and shines in the sun. 

Pods should be fully dried before harvesting but before any seeds have dropped. Cut stems at the base and hang them upside down to dry for several weeks. If the outer coating hasn’t been shed, simply rub it off to reveal the silver moons. It doesn’t take more than one sprig of dried silver dollars to elevate an everlasting bouquet. For a simple but elegant display, place three to five sprigs in a tall vase.

Alliums 

Clusters of delicate pink allium flowers bask in the warm sunlight, their slender petals gracefully unfurling. The sun-kissed blooms gather together, forming a captivating spherical arrangement, vivid and enchanting in their pink hues.
After flowering, alliums produce seed pods resembling fiber optic lamps.
botanical-name
botanical name


Allium sativum
sun-requirements
sun requirements


Full sun
height
height


12-18 inches
hardiness-zones
hardiness zones


4-9

If you’ve grown garlic, chives, or any sort of onion before, you’ve likely noticed the showy, purple umbrella of tiny flowers that forms when it goes to seed. With proper pollination, seeds will begin to develop in the center of each small flower, and once the petals drop, little ornamental seed pods will form at the tip of each flower bud. The final product will resemble a fiber optic night lamp with long strands stretching out from the center. 

These can be left as is in the garden, but if you’d prefer to remove the brown shades from your summer garden, gently pluck them from the base as they begin to brown. 

Hang or lay allium heads to dry in a cool place out of direct sunlight for a few weeks. Once they’re nice and stiff, you can spray paint them or leave them as is and incorporate them into holiday decor around your home or tree. 

Larkspur

A close-up of the intricate beauty of Larkspur flower seed pods. The earthy brown hues blend seamlessly with vibrant green, creating a visually captivating contrast. Inside the seed pods, a promise of new life unfolds as seeds await their journey.
An annual with pastel blooms, larkspur forms slender seed pods cracking in late summer.
botanical-name
botanical name


Consolida ajacis
sun-requirements
sun requirements


Full sun
height
height


2-4 feet
hardiness-zones
hardiness zones


2-11

Larkspur is an annual that blooms in pastel shades of white, pink, blue, and violet, blooming in late summer in most regions. They’re perfect for a cottage garden and look lovely bunched together on their own in mixed colors. 

Their seed pods look like small, slender pea pods, and one forms where each flower is. Pods crack once all pods are formed and dried in late summer or early fall. If you’re not collecting seeds, you may still choose to snip the stems down if they’re towering over other garden plants and shading them out. 

Each pod contains 10-30 seeds. If you’re collecting pods in hopes of sowing seeds next season or gifting them to a gardening friend, choose the healthiest-looking ones. Although when left in place, larkspur self-seeds quite easily. 

Formosa Lilies 

A close-up of  a pristine Formosa lily white flower showcasing its delicate beauty. The golden inner structure gleams, resembling a captivating sunburst, revealing nature's intricate design. White petals gracefully absorb the sunlight, creating a serene, luminous scene.
These are tall, late-blooming flowers with trumpet-shaped white blooms.
botanical-name
botanical name


Lilium formosanum
sun-requirements
sun requirements


Full sun to partial shade
height
height


4-7 feet
hardiness-zones
hardiness zones


5-8

Formosa lilies are a late-season bloomer, boasting trumpet-shaped crisp white six-inch flowers. Each stem has two to seven blooms, and they can reach up to seven feet tall. 

Formosa is the only type of lily that can be grown from seed. You can start them indoors in January for late summer blooms. However, if you’re lucky, they’ll self-seed. Each pod contains hundreds of seeds. 

As each flower fades, ornamental seed pods form and turn upward, lasting into winter and adding visual interest to your landscape if left in place. If you choose to harvest full stems, pods can be added to winter decor or painted and used in crafts. 

Italian Arum / Orange Candleflower 

Bunches of Orange Candleflower berries sparkle under the sun, exuding a vibrant allure. The blurred background provides a lush, green backdrop, enhancing the beauty of the glistening berries in this natural setting.
A striking perennial, Arum boasts year-round appeal with hooded flowers and poisonous berries.
botanical-name
botanical name


Arum italicum
sun-requirements
sun requirements


Partial to full shade
height
height


1-2 feet
hardiness-zones
hardiness zones


5-9

Arum is one of the most interesting garden spectacles. It’s attractive all year long, ideally in winter and early spring, which is uncommon. Large, arrow-shaped, dark-green leaves form in the late fall through winter. Hooded flowers form in April and May and feature a central spadix and large, white spathe.

When the flowers complete their bloom cycle, the foliage withers away to return in the fall. The ornamental seed pods are actually berries that fill the cylindrical spikes, transitioning from green to reddish-orange and resembling a loose corn cob in early to late summer, making quite a statement. 

This plant spreads easily, and its name in Greek means “poisonous”, so take caution around pets and children when selecting this perennial flower. 

Arum can be propagated by seed or tubers. The flowers produce an odor that attracts flies, which is the main source of pollination. Check with your local extension agent before planting, as it’s considered invasive in some regions. 

Final Thoughts

Many plants serve more than one purpose in a garden. They can have attractive foliage, blooms, and ornamental seed pods. Help beautify your garden with these plants that look striking long after their flowers fade.



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