Seeds forum: Do seeds get too old to use ?

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Name: Ed
NJ (Zone 6b)
Cactus and Succulents Garden Ideas: Level 1
herrwood
Jun 12, 2016 6:11 AM CST
I found some packages of seed in the closet , mostly marigolds they had a date of 2004 on them. I opened about 4 or 5 packs and put them in some pots . I was about a month and almost none came up.
So just wondering do seeds expire ?
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
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CarolineScott
Jun 12, 2016 8:18 AM CST
How long seeds remain viable depends very much on how they are stored.
Marigold seeds do not last more thatn a year or two for me when they are stored at house temperatures.
Different plants will have different viability.
There are lists of seed viability times on line.
Name: Ed
NJ (Zone 6b)
Cactus and Succulents Garden Ideas: Level 1
herrwood
Jun 12, 2016 9:49 AM CST
Ok so that answers my question since they were 12 years old no wonder they did not grow.
Name: Tom Cagle
SE-OH (Zone 6a)
Old, fat, and gardening in OH
Coppice
Jun 12, 2016 4:01 PM CST
When ever you see claims for long storage (or very long storage) of seed, your 12 year old seed should come to mind.

Carolyn Male and others spent a good deal of time and left a long cyber-trail trying to germinate 50 year old tomato seed given to them by GRINS. Oh perhaps a dozen years back.
Name: Linda
Carmel, IN (Zone 5a)
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mom2goldens
Jun 13, 2016 3:53 PM CST

Moderator

I've grown some pretty old tomatoes, but I agree with Caroline--marigolds and some other herbs need fresher seed. Storage conditions will also be a factor.
Name: Ed
NJ (Zone 6b)
Cactus and Succulents Garden Ideas: Level 1
herrwood
Jun 13, 2016 5:02 PM CST
I found them in back of a closet so no loss had about 8 packs left so just opened them and left the seeds in a pile for the birds or whoever wants to eat them.
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
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kqcrna
Jun 14, 2016 10:26 AM CST

Moderator

Yes, most seeds seem easiest to germinate as soon as they drop from the plant. Many which will later require cold strat don't even need that if they're plucked from the plant and thrown on the ground. They sprout quickly. But the older they get, the harder they get to sprout.

Karen
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
Jun 19, 2016 7:53 AM CST
---bumping this up
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
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RickCorey
Jun 20, 2016 8:37 PM CST
The biggest factor in increasing the storage lifetime of seeds is getting them very dry, and keeping them uniformly very dry.

After that factor, it's nice if they stay at a steady temperature, especially if that is a COOL temperature.

Dark storage is slightly better than light storage.

"Very dry" means 15 % RH to at most 30% RH. Desiccants are helpful if you want to double or quadruple seeds viable lifetime (but not all seeds can be kept for many years).

MAYBE some old seeds germinate better after an overnight soak in dilute hydrogen peroxide (0.1% H2O2)
http://garden.org/ideas/view/RickCorey/651/Hydrogen-Peroxide...

Also, to avoid soil rot setting in before a "slow" old seed germinates, you can germinate seeds on a coffee filter in a plastic bag. Use hydrogen peroxide as above to further reduce fungus and bacteria and possibly "stimulate" the seed embryo. Put LOTs of stale seeds onto the paper towel, and inspect it daily. Pot up each seed as soon as the baby root (radicle) emerges. Even if only 1% of the seeds germinate, and they take twice as long as usual, if you start with 100 times as many "old" seeds as you needed, you can still get a crop.

"Seed life span approximately doubles for every 10% reduction in seed eRH. "
<... during storage. "seed eRH" = Equivalent Relative Humidity>

"Once transferred to the seed bank, collections can then be dried to around 15% eRH
(4-7% moisture content
depending on seed oil content),
the recommended moisture level for long-term conservation of orthodox seeds"
http://www.kew.org/sites/default/files/04-Post%20harvest%20h...


http://garden.org/ideas/view/RickCorey/2534/Drying-Seeds-wit...

http://garden.org/ideas/view/RickCorey/1568/Dry-Saved-Seeds-...
http://garden.org/ideas/view/RickCorey/649/Silica-Gel-for-Dr...

Name: My name is Monika...
Chicago :)
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xoxomonisia
Aug 15, 2016 12:28 PM CST
Welcome! Welcome! Welcome!

Good afternoon everyone! I usually plant last years seeds that I've saved and stored! This year I found a package of zinnia seeds I purchase 3 years ago.. I planted 25 seeds and 12 made them...so fresher seeds the better... good luck..
Name: Linda
Carmel, IN (Zone 5a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Charter ATP Member Region: Indiana Dog Lover Container Gardener
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mom2goldens
Aug 15, 2016 6:55 PM CST

Moderator

Welcome! Monika! Isn't it exciting when we can get older seeds to germinate?

I've grown tomatoes from seeds that were 7 or 8 years old. I enjoy the challenge of it Smiling
Name: Tom Cagle
SE-OH (Zone 6a)
Old, fat, and gardening in OH
Coppice
Aug 16, 2016 1:19 PM CST
Old in a seed is relative. Tree and woodland seed never ever quite go to sleep, so they need damp storage, need to be planted out for the following spring.

Vegetable seed that do prosper from drying also have variable storage success. Earlier posters encourage very dry conditions and storage away from light. All of the above may not help onion seed. Plant them as soon as you can.

Most seed have a 2 or more year shelf life.

Even rugged seed like tomato, have declining germination rates after the tenth year.

Very old, (as in) hundreds of year old seed are only viable after being blessed by the Easter Bunny.
Name: Niki
Bend, Oregon (Zone 6a)
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HighdesertNiki
Aug 18, 2016 3:30 PM CST
The oldest known germination being from "Methuselah"at 2,000 years. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/06/080612-oldes...
"The Earth laughs in flowers."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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
Aug 18, 2016 4:55 PM CST
I think you're right, that date palm is the oldest seed germinated.

This 3,000 year old campion didn't come from a seed, more like tissue culture. Some squirrel buried plant parts in permafrost, and Russian botanists did the rest.

>> "the Russian researchers tried to germinate the campion seeds, but failed. They then took cells from the placenta, the organ in the fruit that produces the seeds. They thawed out the cells and grew them in culture dishes into whole plants."

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/21/science/new-life-from-an-a...


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