The Q&A Archives: How Long Do Seeds Live?

Question: I bought some vegetable seeds in 1995. Are they still good?

Answer: Seeds lose their viability as they age, but if they were stored in an air-tight container in a cool, dark location, chances are they're still good. You can check the germination rate of seeds by putting about ten seeds between the folds of a damp papertowel and putting it into a plastic baggie. Set the bag in a warm place and check in 7-10 days to see how many seeds have sprouted. The number of seeds that have germinated, divided into the original number of seeds started (in this case 10), will give you the average percentage of germination. If only half of them sprouted, plant two seeds instead of one, to ensure that one of them will come up.

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