After receiving a few questions about the shelf life of various seeds I figured I’d research a bit and come up with a list for you for you. Obviously different kinds of seeds have a different shelf life. Other things come into play as well, like humidity and temperature. You want to create the best possible environment for your seeds to have optimum shelf life. The garage or garden shed wouldn’t be the best storage place, unlike all the lovely magazine photos show.
There are a few things you can do to help increase the shelf life of your seeds. Keep them in a cool place, about 50 degrees and keep the humidity lower than 50%. One way to help with the humidity is to keep some of those little silica packs from purchasing shoes/bags in your seed box/jar. Some people choose to store their seeds in the fridge or freezer. I have read that storing in the fridge can double the shelf life and storing in the freezer can extend shelf life by 4-5 times. I’m thinking of making a little seed vault with a few varieties of seeds and stashing it in my freezer in a vacuum sealed bag, more about that later.
The seeds with the shortest shelf life are: onions, beans, peas, corn, grains. The ones with the longest shelf life are:
Brassicaceae (cruciferous family) broccoli, cabbage, radish
Solanaceae (nightshade family) tomatoes, peppers, eggplant
Cucurbitaceae (melon family) zucchini, watermelon, pumpkin
I have noticed that onions seeds lose about 50% germination by the second year and peas seem to lose germination rates quickly as well. It’s a good strategy to use most of those up each year or store them in the freezer when you’re not planting. Tomato seeds seem to last forever, I’ve never had trouble with reduced germination on tomatoes even with seed older than 5 years old.
Have you ever noticed changes in seed germination from improper storage or older seeds?Filed under Seed Sowing | Comments (18)