The Q&A Archives: Life of seeds in packets

Question: How long do seeds last in the packets that you purchase them in? I have some seeds in packets dated 1995 and 1996. Would they still be viable?

Answer: Seeds have different rates of longevity. For instance, bean seeds usually remain viable for 5 years. Other seeds have short 'shelf' lives. The bottom line is, it depends upon how the seeds have been stored. To check the viablility of your seeds, place about 10 of them between the folds of a damp papertowel and seal in a plastic bag. Check the seeds in 7-10 days. The number of seeds that have sprouted will give you an idea of the percentage of the seeds in that packet that are still viable. You can plant the sprouted seeds, if you'd like.

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