How long will seeds stay viable?

haxuan(Vietnam)April 1, 2010

Now that I have several seed pods, I wonder if I could keep these seeds for some time before planting them.

If so, how long will these seeds stay viable? and how should I store them?

Normally in the past, when I received seeds from friends here, I planted them immediately.

Thanks for your advice.


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I am not an expert on this,but I do know that the longer you have them,the fewer the number which will germinate. I misplaced some in a dry building,in which the temperatures reached over 100Fah from march to october. Upon planting them in october only about two percent germinated. I have read that temperatures below 50Fah and low humidity will keep the seeds and produce a high number of germinations,up until five months. After that the germination rate drops.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 9:54PM
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Many thanks, Del.
If "cool & dry" can help seeds fresh longer, maybe storing them in a fridge will do.


    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 7:16AM
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kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)

I keep mine on the kitchen counter in egg crates. I floated a few of last year's seeds and most of them sprouted. So...they are viable at least 1 year without any care whatsoever!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 7:58PM
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Many thanks, Kristi.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 9:44PM
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Most kindly, I do not wish to contradict what Kristi is saying. Kristi, if yours stay on the counter for one year with no care, you have been quite fortunate.

How long they will keep at room temperatures depends on the seeds themselves. Johnsonii seeds are more 'oily' in appearance and much like sunflower seeds. They do not dry up as quickly, but the majority of the seeds will dry up and wither away after a few months. The longer you keep them at room temperature, the less viable they will be, so I agree that you should try to refrigerate if possible.

If you have an excess of seeds, you can run some trials and depending on the seeds themselves and your environmental conditions, some will last longer than others.

If you don't wish to take the chance on losing them, the first choice is to sow them ASAP and the second is to move them to cool and dry within the first few months.

That's just based on my experience...

Good Luck and enjoy your precious seeds!


    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 7:05AM
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kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)


Of course, the best practice is to sow them immediately. I always plant seeds the day the pod opens. That's the best way to assure the best viability. It goes downhill from there.

I was just sharing my recent experiment, since I had seeds from nearly 50 crosses just sitting around. Before tossing them out, I thought I should see if they were still good. I took several (no Johnsonii crosses) and floated them. Within 10 days, there were signs of sprouting.

You weren't contradicting me may not agree with how I did something, but we all have value to share. It just was to show that you might be lucky and even if you haven't provided any special care to the seeds, they want to survive. The house was kept at 68-78 all year, with relatively high humidity (this is Houston after all). So, maybe the humidity helped. Don't know....

Similarly, I have pollen from the past 2 years in pill bottles sitting on the counter, and I have had some luck with it this year. Have only tried a couple of crosses, but 1 did take.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 10:18AM
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Thank you for your gracious understanding. I have done 1,000's of crosses and my experience is that most will not viable more than 6 months and many will not be viable for more than 3 months.

I live in Mobile, AL, and the humidity is just as high as Houston if not more...

Thanks for understanding my concern.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 11:02AM
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So much thankful to your sharing of experience, Ann and Kristi.
But basing on most common sense, I think the longer you leave the seeds the lesser germination rate you have. So I will sow my seeds as soon as I can to get good results.
As for why I asked about storing, I wanted to share some of the seeds with other local friends and sending stuff might take time on my end.
Anyway, I really appreciate all the information you guys have passed.


    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 1:53AM
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If you wish and are curious, you can gently remove them black winged coating and examine the seed itself. You will see that there is no hard outer shell which is why the little seed will dry up in a short amount of time.

I have often wondered if there were a way to coat the seed so that it would last longer, but given the fact that I have more seeds than I can possibly ever sow, I have not tried to experiment with that.

Good Luck, and continue to enjoy your babies.


    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 3:02PM
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e36yellowm3(7 Raleigh, NC)

Kristi, what a good idea to use egg crates to store seeds! Thanks for the tip. They're just the perfect size to pop a pod right in each egg cup.


    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 8:15PM
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Hey, your suggestion did stir up the curiosity in me, Ann. I'll check and see :-).

Thanks again, folks, for your sharing of info.


    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 11:10PM
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