The Q&A Archives: Seeds From Last Year

Question: Last year I harvested seeds from my zinnias, sunflowers, cleome, marigolds and rudbekia. By mistake, I left them in my hoop house over the winter. Will they still be viable? The temps did go below freezing in there and it got pretty hot when the sun was out.

Answer: Enemies of stored seeds include excessive heat, moisture, and fluctuating temperatures. Your seeds were definitely at risk, but they may still be viable. The best way to find out is to germinate a few between the folds of a moistened papertowel. Dampen the towel, sprinkle on a few seeds, fold the towel in half and place it in a plastic baggie. Check every few days for sprouting. If the seeds in your test sprout, the remaining seeds should be fine. If not, you'll know the entire batch is beyond help and you'll need to purchase new seeds for the season.

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