How long Do Garden Seeds Last? Our Guide Here

Written By James
Updated May 16, 2021 by James

How long Do Garden Seeds Last? Our Guide Here

Just like fresh vegetables, garden seeds can naturally lose their potency and germinative ability after a period of time.

The rate of decay in the viability of seeds varies widely depending on the seeds and their packaging, as well as environmental conditions.

Many seeds are viable for 3 to 5 years if properly stored in a cool, dry, and dark place, while others are viable for even longer than that.

Since seeds have a pretty long shelf life, you can stock up when they're on sale at your local garden center or order them online.

Before you do, though, you should know how long garden seeds last as well as the best way to store them.

For how long do garden seeds last, is all depends on a few factors: how old the seeds are, how they're stored, and how warm the temperatures are.

How to store garden seeds?

Storing your own garden seeds is a great way to save money on your gardening expenditures. Also a ways to preserve and give life to your favorite plants.

The only problem with storing your own seeds is knowing how to store them correctly so they will maintain their viability for the longest possible period of time.

There are many ways to store garden seeds and some are better than others.

Fortunately, garden seeds are very resilient and will most likely survive a mild case of neglect, as long as they are stored in a cool, dark place.

One of the first steps is acquiring seeds from the previous growing year.

Freezing them is never a good idea. The best way to do this is to get an airtight container for your seeds.

This container can be something as simple as a Ziploc bag with a few holes for air, or it can be something more specialized.

You can put them in a mason jar with a tight lid. Use a permanent marker to label the variety, the year and any other pertinent information.

How to tell if garden seeds are dead?

When you plant your garden seeds, the last thing you want is to wake up to a patch of dirt with nothing sprouting in it but weeds.

To ensure that doesn't happen, you'll need to check your seeds at different points in the germination process to see if they've died or not.

Garden seeds have a short shelf life, and sometimes you might wonder if the seeds you purchased are still alive or if they are just taking up valuable garden space.

You can find out if you garden seeds are still alive by using a simple test. For a seed to be considered dead, it must first be ripe. Not all seeds are ripe.

If you have just opened your envelope of seeds, and find that none of them are brown or black, you should call a doctor, because you have not received seeds at all.

Fresh seeds should be brown or black in color. They will be crisp and dry. You can check the status of your seeds by breaking them in half.

If they are green, you have probably just purchased some broccoli seeds.

Testing Seed Viability

 Having healthy seeds is a key to having a successful garden. The current state of seed viability testing is imperfect at best.

Despite efforts to develop a "quantum" leap in seed viability testing, we are still relying on antiquated methods to determine if our seeds are still viable.

As a seed grower, you are intimately familiar with the trials and tribulations of trying to inject new life into seeds that just won't take.

The fact is, you just can't always rely on the labeling claims on the seed packets you purchase from your local garden center.

It can be tricky, as you can’t just try and plant the seeds in the ground and see how they do.

If you don’t have a garden, or you want to test the viability of seeds that you already have, there are a couple of steps you can take.

You can save a few bucks by buying cheap seed packets, but if you’re wondering why your garden is producing such a pathetic yield, it could be your seed packets.

All seeds are not alike, and even among higher-quality seeds, some seeds just weren’t viable when they were packaged.

The difference between a healthy and a non-viable seed is invisible to the naked eye.

What Affects Seed Viability?

There are numerous factors that can affect the viability of the seeds you have purchased.

Some of these factors include the age of the seeds, the type of seed, the method and circumstances under which it was stored, and the conditions under which it was germinated.

Seed viability is the ability of a seed to germinate and grow into a healthy plant. It is measured in terms of the percentage of seeds that will germinate under ideal conditions.

This is usually measured in a standard germination test. Some seeds don’t seem to be viable. They never sprout or just die before they can grow.

Even though they appear lifeless, seeds are living things. So, how you treat your seeds out in the garden is important. 

Why Save Seeds from Your Garden?

Saving seeds from your garden can help you to save money, especially if you buy your seeds.

Because seeds are only viable for a certain number of years, if you don’t plant your own seeds, when the time comes to replant, you’ll have to buy more.

But if you save seeds from your own garden, you’ll never have to purchase those seeds again.

Part of saving your own seeds from your garden is knowing how to save seeds for each plant, and understanding their specific growing needs and requirements.

The second reason is that saving seeds from your garden guarantees that you will have a garden next year.

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My father, and his father before him, and his father; for the past 3 generations, my family have always been into gardening. The green fingers is a gift passed down to me and I thoroughly enjoy it! I also have worked in the manufacturing department for Bosch and DeWalt so I like to think I know a thing or two about tools and such!
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