How Long Do Seeds Last?
Every gardener eventually finds a packet of seeds that produces great plants. More often than not, seed packets have more seeds that what you need for a season, unless you are growing a huge farm, you’ll most likely have a lot of leftovers. The best part about it is that you can keep the seeds for a different growing season. But how long are these seeds viable? The answer varies from one plant to another. Proper storage also plays a huge part in lengthening the seed’s shelf life.
Here is a quick reference on how long most seeds last:
2 Years and below
Corn, parsnips, onions, chives
Peas, peppers, parsley, aubergines, carrots, beans,beets, spinach, cauliflower, arugula, endive, pumpkin, watercress, fennel, kale, mustard, rutabaga
5 Years and Above
Cucumbers, melons, celery, artichokes, turnip, radish
While there is still great debate on how long seeds last aside from a few exceptions like parsnips, corn and onions that are viable for up to two years, most seeds are generally good for up to three years, maintaining their ability to yield good produce and show vigor not just in germinating but in thriving in different growing conditions.
There are many reports of seeds germinating well after their expected shelf life but may or may not be as “vigorous” as the younger seeds in terms of growth rate and amount of fruits or vegetables produced.
There are a few techniques to help keep your seeds last longer; make sure to keep seeds in a cool, dry place away from sun and moisture. Other pre-packed seeds have been reported to last longer when stored in foils that keep sunlight out. To give your seeds their best chance at thriving, always make sure to provide ideal growing conditions: good potting soil, excellent drainage, and lots of sunshine.