A good percentage of gardeners often need to store seeds for some time before the planting season. However, seeds may not last for an extended period, especially if stored incorrectly. So, how long do seeds last?
The lifespan of seeds depends on various factors, one of which being the condition of the seeds and certain environmental factors. For example, pretreated seeds tend to last longer. Additionally, seeds last longer when kept in cool areas.
If you plan to store seeds, place them in an airtight and waterproof container. Then, place the container in a dark, dry place. Ensure the temperature of the storage area is less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Some gardeners prefer storing seeds in refrigerated conditions. You have to understand the properties of the seeds before storage. Doing this enables you to store them in ideal conditions.
The average time seeds last
If you store your seeds well, they can last for one year. Of course, this depends on the type of seed. Some seeds can last up to five years.
For instance, watermelon, basil, and pepper seeds can last four years. Tomato, celery, and beet seeds can stay in good condition for up to five years. On the flip side, spinach, onion, and parsley seeds can only last up to one year.
Always ask a gardening professionals how you can prolong the lifespan of your seeds. Furthermore, before storing any seeds, make certain you understand their properties.
How do you know your seeds will germinate?
At times, you need to have the assurance that your seeds will still germinate after storage. Fortunately, you can do a simple germination test to identify whether your vegetable seeds will sprout.
A detailed procedure for a germination test
- The first thing to do is to pick a sample. Select 1-100 seeds for effective results.
- Then, take a paper towel and moisten it. Ensure the paper towel is not wet but slightly damp.
- Put the seeds on the paper towel and roll it up. When folding the paper towel, ensure that the seeds do not come into contact with each other.
- After folding the paper towel, please place it in a plastic bag. Place the plastic bag in a warm area.
- Leave the paper towel for about a week. During this period, ensure the paper towel stays damp by spraying water occasionally.
- Once one to two weeks are over, check to see if the germinated seeds and those that didn’t. Count the number of seeds that germinated to identify the percentage of the seeds that are capable of germinating.
You can also use this test to identify the rate of germination of the seeds. This way, you’ll be able to identify how quickly your seeds can germinate. Feel free to buy new seeds if you find out that your seeds have a low germination rate.
How to Store Vegetable Seeds
Typically, the lifespan of vegetable seeds depends on the storage techniques. So, how do you store vegetable seeds?
The right way to store vegetable seeds
- Before you store your vegetable seeds, you need to ensure that they are very dry. In fact, the seeds should be very brittle.
- Now that you have your dried seeds, put them in a paper envelope. Doing this helps you get rid of all the remaining moisture in the seeds.
- Without removing the seeds from the paper envelope, place them in a container. Ensure the container is airtight and waterproof. Then, place the container in a cool, dark, dry place.
Do seeds die if not planted?
More often than not, gardeners tend to buy seeds in bulk. But very few end up using all the seeds before the end of the planting season. Purchasing too many seeds is not healthy since some may go to waste.
Besides, seeds can only survive for a certain period of time. Failure to store your seeds properly will only make them useless in the long run. So, if you want your seeds to last for a long time, you need to store them properly.
Otherwise, they will die if you neglect them. Also, seeds eventually die if they are not planted. Some die after one year, while others can stay for up to five years.
If you plan on storing seeds, it will be best to identify their potential lifespan. This way, you’ll be able to use all of them before they die.
Factors affecting the longevity of a vegetable seed during storage
The longevity of vegetable seeds often fluctuates depending on certain factors. Some of these factors include:
The type of seed:
As mentioned earlier, every seed has its own unique lifespan. Some seeds generally last longer than others. For instance, onions can last for one year, while celery can last for up to five years.
Onion seeds cannot last for one year, even in the right conditions. The genetic composition of each seed determines its durability. Additionally, the type of seed you have determines the storage technique.
Initial Seed Quality:
The original condition of the seed will determine its longevity during storage. Damaged or low-quality seeds obviously don’t last long. Remember, seeds are susceptible to weather and physical damage.
If you have a wrinkled or flat seed, it won’t survive for an extended period. So, when choosing seeds to plant in your garden, only go for high-quality seeds. Purchase seeds from a reputable garden store or manufacturer.
The amount of moisture:
The moisture present in the seed usually determines the longevity of seeds. The higher the moisture content in the seeds, the more the seeds are likely to deteriorate. Before storing your seeds, you have to ensure they are completely dry. Doing this enables the seeds to last to their full potential.
Every seed has its own average shelf life. Some seeds last longer than others. So, before you store seeds, identify the most extended period of time they are likely to last.
Relative Humidity and Temperature during Storage:
Environmental factors also affect the longevity of vegetable seeds. Gardening experts advise placing seeds in humidity that is relatively higher or lower than their moisture content.
You have to develop a moisture equilibrium where your seeds can survive. Environmental temperatures also affect seeds that have high moisture content. It would be best to store your seeds in areas with low temperatures.
Based on previous statistics, high oxygen pressure decreases the longevity of the seed. Luckily, there are ways you can use to prolong the viability of the seed even amid increased oxygen pressure. For instance, using starch phosphate can help you extend the lifespan of the seeds.
Can You Use Out-of-Date Seeds?
Contrary to popular belief, using old seeds is perfectly fine. Needless to say, you need to make sure that the seeds are in perfect condition. There is nothing wrong with planting with old seeds since they will still produce a quality harvest.
So, instead of purchasing new seeds from your local store, consider using old ones. However, you need to identify whether your old seeds can still germinate.
In most instances, old seeds are less likely to sprout. So, before using these seeds, ensure you conduct a germination test. Doing this will help you know the rate and possibility of germination.
Seeds longevity before you plant
From this article, it is clear that different seeds have different levels of longevity. Some seeds can last for two years, while others for four years. Even so, the viability of vegetable seeds is affected by several factors.
These factors include environmental temperatures, storage techniques, and seed type. If you want your vegetable seeds to last long, ensure you store them in the right conditions. In particular, store them in a cool, dry, dark place.