Possible Duplicate:
Heeding “use by” dates on seed packets?

I bought some heirlooms for my 2011 garden and ended up not using the seeds, but they are still in the packaging and have been in a cupboard for the past year. Are they still good or am I going to have to buy 30 dollars worth of seeds for my fall 2012 garden?


It depends on (1) the type of plant and (2) the storage conditions.

Different plants have seeds that last for different lengths of time. Onion seeds, for example, should be purchased fresh every year since the seeds are very perishable. Tomato seeds can last 4 years with decent storage practices. (Possibly longer if you do everything exactly right.)

Seeds don't like:

  • moisture
  • light
  • heat

so you want to store them in a cool, dry, dark place. If "in a cupboard" is a warm, humid kitchen or garage cupboard, then I'd just toss the seeds, buy fresh, and use better storage in the future so that you don't have to buy fresh seeds every year.

If you have lots of seeds (e.g. a packet with dozens of spinach seeds), you can do a germination test to see if it's worth using them in your garden. However, this isn't really practical if you've only got half a dozen seeds of a particular plant.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.