Seeds forum: Storing seeds - long term

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Name: Calin
Weston-super-mare UK (Zone 7b)
Bulbs Lilies Plant and/or Seed Trader
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fixpix
Jul 12, 2013 12:45 AM CST
Hello everyone...

I am just wondering. I started collecting seeds a while ago.
As these have their own rhythm to ripe and dry, I am wondering how I can store these for long term.
Sometimes when I trade, the other person is writing "kept in freezer, good viability" or something.

Can ALL seeds be stored in the FREEZER, where it freezes?
Do any seeds suffer from being frozen?

OR just in the FRIDGE is enough?

And another thing... air-tight??? container...hmmm. i don't think I have any air-tight container. What container would be suited for such use?

I'd like to keep some seeds until I sow them or trade them, sometimes till next spring.

I used to keep them in newspapers, napkins, paper towels and then all in a shoe box and kept in a closet in my living room - but I am thinking this is not exactly right...
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Region: Canadian Bulbs Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters Lilies
Peonies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Ideas: Master Level
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CarolineScott
Jul 12, 2013 7:03 AM CST
I keep seeds in plastic containers in a basement cupboard.
A freezer would be better for long term storage.
I am, usually, just storing seeds for the next growing season.

Some such as Himalayan blue poppy seeds----I keep in the 'frig.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
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woofie
Jul 12, 2013 8:49 AM CST
I'm thinking that there are probably some seeds that wouldn't appreciate being frozen. Morning glory seeds come to mind, just because I almost never get volunteers from I. tricolor or I. nil (although I. purpurea volunteer hugely). I could be wrong about that; it may just be that they don't have time to mature before winter hits them here.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Region: Canadian Bulbs Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters Lilies
Peonies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Ideas: Master Level
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CarolineScott
Jul 12, 2013 7:02 PM CST
And maybe some seeds of tropicals may not like freezing?
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
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woofie
Jul 12, 2013 7:13 PM CST
Ah, yes, good point, Caroline! I wonder if there is a database somewhere that lists optimal storage temperatures for various seeds. I know there's one that shows length of viability for a goodly number of seeds and they do make some recommendations for storage conditions. Have to go dig that one up.

Found it! http://hillgardens.com/storeseeds.htm
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jul 16, 2013 2:05 PM CST
Woofie,

That's the same site I was going to recommend. I'll look for a few more links.

I agree that most seeds can be frozen once they are very dry. That also kills many insect eggs, I'm told.

I often find the claim that for every 10% drier, or 10 degrees F colder, you "double" the viable lifetime in storage. However, below 15% relative humidity, you might start to kill some seeds.

That's why I stopped keeping a big paper coin envelope of silica gel in my sealed jars and tubs. Now I usually have a smaller envelope of gel, not TOO fresh, and take it out if that jar isn't going to be opened and closed every few weeks or months. I don't want them to get TOO dry. You can buy a pound or two of silica gel in any craft store - used for drying flowers. You can regenerate it by baking a thin layer for 3-4 hours at 250F. (Overheating, like above 280 F, can damage the gel so it doesn't absorb as much humidity.)

I think that silica gel is overkill if you only need seeds to last 3-5 years. If losing a little germination rate or vigor is not a huge deal, any reasonably dry, dark, cool spot is OK. Temperature SWINGS and humidity SWINGS are bad.

Dry rice or macaroni, baked almost-brown are milder desiccants.

Just get it really dry before you seal seeds in anything impermeable. If there is doubt about how dry the seed is, leave it in paper. (Coin envelopes or business envelopes saved from bills, or fancy-folded from a sheet of paper).


1. "triple foil packets with heat-seal" - suitable for world-class seed vaults and collectors of rarities. The kind of people who also have deep freezers or even liquid nitrogen.

2. Sealable jars: metal screw-lid glass jars (Mason jars, jelly and jam jars) 100%

3. Seal-a-meal pouches - 98% or 99% ideal

4. plastic jars with screw lids: not quite as tightly sealed but OK to prevent swings in humidity. This is what I use, but I'm looking for some cheap gaskets or soft rings.

If saving common seed for 3-5 years, not trying to preserve something rare and irreplaceable for 10-15 years, all the above are overkill.

5. Plastic freezer bag with Ziploc - fine for normal seed savers, in the fridge or the freezer or a cool basement.

6. regular plastic baggie with Ziploc - OK if you don't have lots of humidity and humidity swings. (I use these inside my big plastic tubs, just to keep each variety separate, and, for fussiness, "double-bagged".

7. paper envelopes and/or paper bags - the most common means of storing crop seeds. This works fine for a great many people, for 3-5 years.

http://www.kew.org/science-research-data/kew-in-depth/msbp/p...
http://www.hillgardens.com/storeseeds.htm - Woofie's link
http://howtosaveseeds.com/store.php
http://www.seedcontainers.net/a_guide_to_long-term_seed_pres...
http://www.ehow.com/how_5578968_freeze-vegetable-seeds-stora...
http://www.underwoodgardens.com/113/seed-saving-and-storage/
http://www.southernexposure.com/drying-seed-with-color-indic...

technical paper:
http://www.seedcontainers.net/the_risk_of_inadequate_contain...



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