How long can seeds be stored?

todancewithwolves(Z9 CA)January 20, 2009

How long can seeds be stored and remain viable?

I have 2 large boxes of seeds. Some are 4 years old, some are 2-3 years old.

Edna

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libbyshome(z9a BC)

They should be fine.

Maybe do a germination test before you plant them or give them away.

Libby

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 6:46PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Seeds like beans, corn and peas are good for a long time. Others are only viable for a couple of years. I sprout most of my seed in damp paper towel in containers before planting. As Libby said do a germination test if you aren't sure if they're still viable. I bought some tomato seed last year that were a complete failure, if I hadn't tried sprouting them first I would have put the blame on bad weather, insects or birds not the seed itself.

Annette

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 7:20PM
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sierra_z2b

I agree with Libby and Annette. Although I can't start all my seed on damp paper towels, I do start some of them. Its a little harder now, I find with the pelleted seed. In general, seeds can be kept for a few years. For me the older the seed the more I sow, just to be sure. There are some exceptions though of seed that can not be kept. I believe lilies and hellebores are two that should be sown shortly after harvesting.

Sierra

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 7:37PM
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todancewithwolves(Z9 CA)

You guys are fantastic! I'll try the paper towel.

I've been a closet seed hoarder. It's time to let go ... or should I say, let sow.

Edna

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 8:17PM
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plantmaven(8b/9a TX)

It depends on where you are saving tem. LOL!

I am a seed hoarder also. Either that or too lazy to go dig more garden.

Here is a link that might be useful: doomsday vault

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 9:23PM
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todancewithwolves(Z9 CA)

What a facinating article. Let's hope we'll never need it.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 10:21PM
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sweetannie4u(midOK_z6b/7a)

I germinate mine in damp paper towels too. They sprout fast if you put them in a dark, warm place. Then there's no guessing on their viability.
In the average American home, they can lose they viability pretty fast if not stored properly. In very dry, cool airtight places, seeds can be stored indefinitely.

Herb seeds and tiny veggie seeds lose their viability really fast.
Flower seeds can be stored longer.
Melon, cukes, gourd and pumpkin seeds store well for several years (depending upon conditions), but bean & corn seeds store the longest.

Here's something interesting: Wheat was found stored in one of the ancient pyramids of Egypt and when tested for viability, they sprouted - 4,000 years old! Isn't that something?!!!!

Annie

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 2:46AM
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georich5(z5Oh)

Hey dear Edna!!!
I just read an article on testing seeds. You take about 10 seeds and do the wet paper towel method. If more than 5 sprout you're average. More...still viable. Less... pitch'em.

Missed all of you and the forum. Somehow I just wandered away but I'm baaaack!!!

georgeanne

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 12:03PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

A friend gave me 7 blue corn seeds (still have 3) 10,000 years old found in a tomb in Mexico. Apparently they were tested viable by the University of Mexico. I tried to germinate 4 with no success. I guess my storing methods don't match that of 10,000 year old tombs. A

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 12:49PM
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schoolhouse_gw

I just picked up three packs of poppy seed at JoAnn Fabrics (of all places)that were put out originally last Spring. Shirley Mix, Iceland Mix and Oriental Mix for $.50 each.

Well, I go crazy at Dollar General every year buying the 4pk. for $1; so I still have Bachelor Buttons, Larkspur, Zinnia,ect. in my seed basket in the pantry. So you think the half pack of Violetto Trionfo purple beans I found in the veggie seed bag would still be good? They are probably three years old, I search for new seed every year maybe I won't have to this time.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 1:06PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Schoolhouse bean seed is good for a long, long time. I have bean seed that someone found in an old shed that had been there for 80 years. I managed to acquire a few of these seeds that originally came from china, grow them every year, so yours should be perfectly good. A

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 1:36PM
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laura_in_cinti(6)

I found this site on the winter sowing forum and refer to it often to answer questions of seed longevity. Hope this helps!

Here is a link that might be useful: Seed Longevity

    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 12:35PM
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chickenmom(7b/8a, DFW, TX)

I never thought of looking at the dollar store for seeds! Anyone who has used these successfully?

    Bookmark   January 23, 2009 at 11:43PM
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schoolhouse_gw

Well, when I actually get around to sowing them,they do; but I can't speak for everyone else or tell you which ones I did sow and bloomed. But, the cosmos from those packs were the ones that grew extremely tall with stalks like trees. There's not much seed in them either, so I suppose that's why I grab three or four of each kind.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2009 at 9:25AM
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downeastwaves

Hi Edna,

Some poppy seeds that used to pop up when my Mom dig up her veggie garden each year lived in an envelope I had tucked away for many years, I forget just how many now but it was around 20 and they popped to life and produces lots of babies!

Lots of info on there.....

Here is a link that might be useful: Seed Saving info

    Bookmark   January 24, 2009 at 9:25AM
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sweetannie4u(midOK_z6b/7a)

chickenmom,

The seeds I get at Dollar General are very good seeds. They are cheap and you get tons of seeds in each package, unlike the name brand's. They have veggies and flowers - not a big assortment, but a good amount of MY favorites, anyway. Their "End-of-summer" sales are great - 4 huge packages for a dollar!
You can't beat that with a stick!

~Annie

    Bookmark   January 24, 2009 at 11:21AM
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schoolhouse_gw

Annie you can beat ME with a stick, I didn't think there were that many seeds in the packs; but after reading what you said I checked some from last year, and it appears they have just as much in as any other you buy. Sorry chickenmom for the mislead. Yeah - the four for $1 sales are my weakness.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2009 at 12:21PM
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traceyc

OK this is a real mickey mouse question! But I've never had much success with growing from seed and am curious to try the paper towel method. So my question is - how exactly do you do it? cover the seed both sides with paper towel? Then what - move sprouted seeds to containers with soil? Sorry for my ignorance and thanks for your advice!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2009 at 7:00PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Tracey, I sprout most of my seed in damp paper towel. Take a piece of paper towel wet it thoroughly, squeeze out as much water as you can, fold it twice, put your seed on half of the double layer, fold the other half over the seed, put it in something like a soft margarine container, snap the lid on, put in a warm spot, I put mine on top of our aquarium light fixture. Check every couple of days, I had some seeds start to sprout in just 3 or 4 days, a week or 10 days for some. I think the bottom heat speeds things up a bit. When the seed has sprouted I prick them off the paper towel with a wooden skewer as gently as possible they are very fragile ( take a bit of the towel with it rather than damaging it). Then plant them up starting with 2" or 3" inch pots or in flats, potting on as needed until they go out. Others may do it differently, this is the way I do it. Hope this helps.

Annette

    Bookmark   January 24, 2009 at 7:24PM
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traceyc

Thanks Annette, those are great instructions! I have a bunch of seeds here I'm going to try this with. Previously I'd planted them straight into the little pots with seed raising mix, but haven't had much of a strike rate (may be partly due to me letting them dry out too much). This sounds like a great way of giving them a head start.

Tracey

    Bookmark   January 24, 2009 at 11:16PM
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SusanC(9b/10a Sunset 17)

I sprout lots of things in coffee filters inside of ziplock baggies. -I find the roots very seldom grow into the coffee filter like they tend to do with paper towels, so the seedlings are much easier to remove.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 2:20PM
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gr8atweeds(8)

I know this is an old thread. But I disagree that Corn seed stores the longest. On the contrary. It deteriorates the fastest.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2010 at 1:52PM
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