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Do Seeds Expire and Go Bad?

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Part of managing this year’s garden is thinking about next year’s seeds. You may be able to use leftover seeds from this year’s garden in next year’s plan. Or you might be able to save seeds from this year’s harvests. In very general terms, like other living things, seeds can become damaged or diseased and die. The rate at which they lose viability varies by seed type and, most important, storage conditions.

Viability Lore and Science

Legends assert that plants have grown from seeds found in ancient city ruins and royal tombs. Perhaps best known are accounts of lotus seeds found in a Manchurian lake bed, sprouted successfully after 1,200 or more years; in 2002, two Manchurian lotus seeds over 400 years old were grown into mature plants at Brookhaven National Laboratory. According to the U.S. Forest Service, more realistic estimates set the length of time most seeds can remain viable at approximately 150 years. The Kew Royal Botanical Gardens Millenium Seed Bank, a worldwide seed conservancy project, regularly tests many varieties of seeds for viability every five to 10 years. Past and ongoing studies of found seed stashes suggest that numerous members of the bean family (Leguminae; Fabaceae) and grass family (Graminae; Poaceae) may be viable after 40 to 70 years (see References 7, 8 and 9). Not surprisingly, a number of these are commonly regarded as weeds.

Estimating Garden Seed Viability

Scientists classify the lives of seeds as microbiotic, or less than three years; mesobiotic, from three to 15 years; and macrobiotic, 15 years or more, although many factors makes these categories only approximations. Most garden seeds fall into the first two categories; and seeds of plants consumed in their entirety as food, like onions, tend to be the most short-lived. Because of the critical importance of seeds as food sources, home gardeners will likely find more generally accepted information on vegetable seeds than on flowers. Oregon State University Extension, for example, offers only a general guideline for flower seeds, estimating a viability of a year or two for annuals and two to four years for perennial flowers.

Vegetable Seed Viability

A comparison of estimates from two seed producers and two university extensions divided vegetables roughly into three categories. Seeds regarded as viable for one to three years were beans, carrots, corn, leek, onion, parsnip, parsley, spinach, peas and peppers. Those viable for three to five years were beets, brassicas, celery, chard, eggplant, lettuce, cucumber, radish, squash and pumpkin. Generally, tomato, muskmelon and watermelon seeds were considered viable for five to 10 years.

Factors Affecting Viability

In some ways a seed needs to be treated like the plant it will become. Extreme temperatures and excessive moisture are equal threats to seeds. Excess moisture can produce mold or foster fungal diseases and rot in the seeds of most plants that grow in temperate zones (U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9), while seeds of plants from subtropical and tropical climate zones (zones 10 and 11) may require high humidity to survive. Cool, dry, dark, clean conditions are necessary to store most temperate-climate seeds, whether purchased from commercial growers or collected from your garden. Keeping seeds in sealed containers prevents mold spores or other airborne organisms from infecting them. Some experienced seed-savers save refrigerator space for winter seed storage. For tropical or non-native plants, information from seed packets, grower sites and botanical gardens can help you provide variety-specific storage for seeds.

Viability-Enhancing Strategies

For successful seed saving, wait until seeds are fully mature before harvesting them. No matter how carefully stored, immature seeds lack the ability to become new plants. With vegetable seeds, for example, wait until vegetables are slightly past their prime; the seeds of a wrinkled pepper or overripe tomato are mature and ready for storage. Typical seed-packet directions include the length of the typical germination period, usually within 14 days for annuals, and often indicate a soil temperature desirable — and sometimes essential — for germination. Even perfectly viable seeds may not germinate with the wrong soil temperature, water or light. Seeds with very hard outer coverings may benefit from being scraped with a knife blade or sandpaper. Others need the artificial wintering known as cold-stratification, in which seeds spend weeks to months between layers of chilled moist soil or planting medium. Still others germinate faster after being soaked.

Do Seeds Expire and Go Bad?. Part of managing this year’s garden is thinking about next year’s seeds. You may be able to use leftover seeds from this year’s garden in next year’s plan. Or you might be able to save seeds from this year’s harvests. In very general terms, like other living things, …

How Long do Marijuana Seeds Last?

There is plenty of debate surrounding how long do marijuana seeds last before they go bad. Some people say that they can last for years if they are kept in the correct conditions, while others disagree and state that they can only be used within 6 months to 1 year after packing. So the question is, how long do marijuana seeds last?

In some cases the latter may be true, if they are weak genetics or the seeds have been kept in adverse conditions. How long the seeds will last depends totally on the conditions they are stored in. If the seeds are humid or exposed to light, they will not germinate from being damaged internally. It is also essential to add that the seeds must be protected from being crushed.

Will Cracked Marijuana Seeds Still Germinate?

Unfortunately, the answer to will a cracked seed still germinate is No. It cannot germinate as the valuable internal part of the seed that contains the genetic information of the plant is exposed, then the seed will no longer germinate. Great care must be taken to ensure the seeds are not damaged or crushed, including putting them in vials stuffed with cotton wool to ensure they don’t rattle around and harm each other.

Cannabis seeds can withstand long amounts of time in storage, as long as they are well protected. A cool, dark environment with no humidity or strong aromas is good to store the seeds for a few months, but if you want to extend the shelf-life of the seeds, then they must be refrigerated.

How Long Do Marijuana Seeds Last Before They Go Bad?

As we mentioned before, marijuana seeds can be made to last very long if they are refrigerated. Without any interference, marijuana seeds can last a few months before they go bad, even up to a year if they are kept in a cool, dry and dark place, but if they are refrigerated, marijuana seeds can last up to a decade.

How Long Do Marijuana Seeds Last With Great Care?

How long your seeds will last can vary. If great care is taken for the seeds to be protected from humidity and light, and provided a cool environment the center of the seed will remain dormant, making the marijuana seed last longer. That way, the only thing needed to germinate the seed will be to soak them overnight in water then place them in a damp tissue or Jiffy plug and germinate normally.

So, how long marijuana seeds will last depends on the care you take to conserve your marijuana seeds in the correct way. If you are very careful marijuana seeds last you for ages. You can even stock up on strains to have your own collection and at the same time, remain self-sufficient throughout the year.

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