Are Last Year’s Seeds Still Good?

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20170211B.jpgMost gardeners store their leftover garden seeds for another year… or two years. Or three. But how many years can you store seeds and still get good germination?

In fact, under perfect conditions, for hundreds of years! There are seed banks, such as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, whose goal is to preserve crop genetic diversity, that store seeds at between -16 and -30˚C… and they estimate that at least some seeds will still be viable in 7,000 years!

Under average home conditions, however, seed viability is much, much shorter. So, supposing you kept last year’s seeds under the cool, dry conditions they prefer, how long can you expect to keep them?

Sorry, there’s no easy answer. Just how long you can store any given seed varies according to the species.

Here therefore are three charts — vegetables, herbs and flowers — that gives you the number of years seeds are still likely to be viable if stored under “average” home conditions.

Vegetables

  1. Arugula – 4 years
  2. Asparagus – 4 years
  3. Beet – 6 years
  4. Broad bean – 5 years
  5. Broccoli – 5 years
  6. Brussels sprout – 5 years
  7. Cabbage – 5 years
  8. Carrot – 4 years
  9. Cauliflower – 5 years
  10. Celeriac- 6 years
  11. Celery – 6 years
  12. Chicory – 4 years
  13. Chinese cabbage – 5 years
  14. Common bean – 3 years
  15. Corn – 2 years
  16. Corn salad – 5 years
  17. Cucumber – 8 years
  18. Eggplant – 6 years
  19. Endive – 4 years
  20. Ground cherry – 10 years
  21. Gumbo – 2 years
  22. Kale – 5 years
  23. Kohlrabi – 5 years
  24. Leek – 3 years
  25. Lettuce – 5 years
  26. Melon – 5 years
  27. Mustard – 4 years
  28. New Zealand Spinach – 3 years
  29. Okra – 2 years
  30. Onion – 2 years
  31. Parsnip – 2 years
  32. Pea – 3 years
  33. Pepper – 4 years
  34. Pumpkin – 6 years
  35. Quinoa – 7 years+
  36. Radish – 5 years
  37. Rutabaga – 5 years
  38. Sorrel – 2 years
  39. Spinach – 4 years
  40. Squash – 6 years
  41. Strawberry – 6 years
  42. Swiss chard- 6 years old
  43. Tomatillo – 3 years
  44. Tomato – 4 years
  45. Turnip – 5 years
  46. Water cress – 5 years
  47. Watermelon – 5 years
  48. Zucchini – 6 years

Herbs

  1. Angelica – 3 months
  2. Basil – 8 years
  3. Borage – 4 years
  4. Caraway – 3 years
  5. Catnip – 3 years
  6. Chamomile – 3 years
  7. Chives- 2 years
  8. Cilantro – 5 years
  9. Coriander – 5 years
  10. Dill – 5 years
  11. Fennel – 4 years
  12. Lavender – 2 years
  13. Lemon balm – 3 years
  14. Mint – 3 years
  15. Mustard – 4 years
  16. Oregano – 1 year
  17. Parsley – 2 years
  18. Rue – 2 years
  19. Sage – 2 years
  20. Sweet marjoram – 1 year
  21. Thyme – 3 years

Flowers

  1. Ageratum – 4 years
  2. Amaranth – 5 years
  3. Aquilegia– 2 years
  4. Baby’s breath – 3 years
  5. Balloon flower – 3 years
  6. Beebalm – 7 years
  7. Black-eyed susan vine – 2 years
  8. Browallia – 3 years
  9. Calendula – 6 years
  10. California poppy – 3 years
  11. California sunflower – 2 years
  12. Canna – 3 years
  13. Carnation – 2 years
  14. Celosia – 4 years
  15. Chinese forget-me-not – 3 years
  16. Chrysanthemum – 5 years
  17. Clarkia – 3 years
  18. Cockscomb – 4 years
  19. Coleus – 2 years
  20. Coreopsis – 2 years
  21. Cosmos – 4 years
  22. Dahlia – 3 years
  23. Datura – 4 years
  24. Delphinium – 1 year
  25. Dusty Miller – 4 years
  26. Evening primrose – 2 years
  27. Flax – 2 years
  28. Flowering tobacco – 5 years
  29. Forget-me-not – 2 years
  30. Four o’clock – 3 years
  31. Foxglove – 2 years
  32. Garden balsam – 6 years
  33. Geranium (annual) – 2 years
  34. Geranium (perennial) – 2 years
  35. Gerbera – 1 year
  36. Globe amaranth – 3 years
  37. Godetia – 3 years
  38. Heliotrope – 2 years
  39. Hollyhock– 3 years
  40. Hyacinth bean – 2 years
  41. Impatiens – 2 years
  42. Joseph’s coat – 5 years
  43. Kochia – 1 year
  44. Larkspur – 2 years
  45. Lavatera – 5 years
  46. Lobelia – 4 years
  47. Love-in-a-mist – 2 years
  48. Love-lies-bleeding– 5 years
  49. Lupin – 2 years
  50. Madagascar periwinkle – 2 years
  51. Marigold – 3 years
  52. Mignonette – 4 years
  53. Monarda – 7 years
  54. Morning glory – 3 years
  55. Moroccan toadflax – 3 years
  56. Nasturtium – 7 years
  57. Nemesia – 3 years
  58. Nicotiana – 5 years
  59. Nigella – 2 years
  60. Pansy – 2 years
  61. Pelargonium – 2 years
  62. Petunia – 3 years
  63. Phacelia – 2 years
  64. Phlox – 2 years
  65. Pink – 2 years
  66. Poppy – 5 years
  67. Portulaca – 3 years
  68. Salpiglossis – 7 years
  69. Salvia – 1 year
  70. Snapdragon – 4 years
  71. Statice – 3 years
  72. Strawflower – 2 years
  73. Summer cypress – 1 year
  74. Sundrops – 2 years
  75. Sunflower 3 years
  76. Sweet alyssum – 4 years
  77. Sweet pea – 3 years
  78. Sweet William – 2 years
  79. Torenia – 2 years
  80. Verbena – 1 year
  81. Vinca – 2 years
  82. Wallflower – 6 years
  83. Wishbone flower – 2 years
  84. Yarrow – 4 years
  85. Zinnia – 6 years

Germination Test

2017021A.jpgObviously, the above lists are not exhaustive. If you’re unsure of the viability of any seed, rather than wasting space in the garden on seeds that won’t be germinating, simply do a  germination test before you sow. You can find out all about that here.

Good sowing!

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