My Grandfather bred a bush bean for my Grandma. They've been gone for years, but I would like to try and keep the breed alive for heirloom purposes. I've got two sources of seeds, 1 source is about 5-8 years old, and the other source is 25+.

What are my chances of getting any of these seeds to sprout? I assume the 25+ year old seeds will be less than 1%, but I'm hoping the 5+ year old seeds I might get closer to 50% or better. Any ideas?

  • Could you perhaps post some pictures of the seeds? And describe them further? what do they look like? how do they compare to normal bush bean seeds?
    – wax eagle
    Jun 10, 2013 at 18:46
  • Be careful not to plant near other beans to avoid cross-pollination... Jun 11, 2013 at 8:48
  • Wax Eagle, I don't have the seeds yet, I'm waiting on my Aunts and Uncles to send them to me. From what I remember, they are bush bean that grows a very large bean almost like a pinto bean, with a typical green bean shell. They are a string bean, I remember spending hours stringing and snapping them. Unfortunately, both of my Grandparents passed on long ago, so everything I have on them is second-hand information from people who didn't care enough (like me until recently) to keep track of the information. Jun 11, 2013 at 14:11
  • Highly Irregular, you are absolutely correct I was already thinking about that, but I'm glad you pointed it out, in case I hadn't thought of it. It's great advice. Jun 11, 2013 at 14:12

2 Answers 2


I have looked at several sites, including the forums on gardenweb.com and have found that viability of bean seeds varies greatly based on the variety and the manner of storage. Most of those who claimed 80%+ viability of their beans after five years stored their beans in a freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

According to SmartGardener, Blue Lake Bush Beans should be about 75% viable when planted between 3 and 5 years. Here's the link: http://www.smartgardener.com/plants/2327-bean-venture-blue-lake-bush-bean/guide/seed_saving.

Good luck!


FYI, you don't have to plant beans very far away from other beans to prevent cross-pollination. Just a few feet should be enough, as most are self-fertile and the flowers don't even open up until pollination has already been accomplished.

"Beans produce perfect, self-pollinating flowers. Cross pollination by insects is possible but rare as pollination occurs before the flower opens." http://www.seedsave.org/issi/904/beginner.html

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