How to Store Leftover Seeds for the Best Germination Rate Next Year


If you don't plant them all this year, can you save leftover seeds and plant them next year? Yes! Here's how to store them for the best germination rate.

Spring has sprung here in Oklahoma and I'm in gardening mode. Cabbage and garlic are already up and growing, and my seed packets are out and organized according to planting date.

I rarely plant a full packet of seeds these days, my garden just isn't big enough and there are just the two of us eating from the garden. I plant a lot of tomato plants but I like a couple of plants of several varieties rather than a dozen of one kind.

If you don't plant them all this year, can you save leftover seeds and plant them next year? Yes! Here's how to store them for the best germination rate.

Are those seeds still good to plant the following year? Yes, they can be if you store them in optimum conditions. Don't just throw them in the potting shed or garage; heat and humidity are seeds' greatest enemies, and mice love to snack on them.

The best way to store unused seeds is to keep them in their original packets. You'll know exactly what variety they are and what year they were packed (the date will be on the packet, something like "packed for 2017"). The packet also has all that great planting information printed on it too.

Store seeds in their original packets with the planting information on the back.

Be sure your seeds are dry before storing them; moisture will lead to mold.

Put all your packets inside zippered plastic bags and then store in the refrigerator. Since the temperature and humidity level both rise every time you open the refrigerator door, it's best to put your seeds in the back corner of the lowest shelf, where the temperature will be the most stable. Place  a packet of dessicant, some uncooked rice or a tablespoon of powdered milk in each bag of seed packets to absorb moisture.

Some types of seeds will remain viable for up to five years, but the best way to keep seeds is to plant them yearly and save the seeds from those plants at the end of the season.

Lettuce seeds are viable to up to five years.

Onion, leek and parsnip seeds are only good for one year, but other vegetable varieties can last for four or five years - sometimes even longer when stored properly. High Mowing Seeds has a handy Seed Viability Chart here.

If you have older seeds and aren't sure if they are still viable, you can do a germination test or even pre-sprout your seeds and just plant those that sprout. (I've always wondered what you're supposed to do with the seeds you use in germination tests. Are you supposed to throw them out? Not me, I'd plant them!)

My own "gourmet lettuce mix" of leftover seeds.

I have several partially-used packets of lettuce seeds in my stash. Lettuce seeds are supposed to be viable for up to five years, so I mix all the varieties together and plant my own "gourmet lettuce mix." I'm planning to let a few plants bolt and go to seed so I'll have new seeds for next year.



Related Posts:
How to Order Spring Seeds
How to Grow Vegetables in a Shady Garden
A Comparison of 5 Tomato Varieties


If you don't plant them all this year, can you save leftover seeds and plant them next year? Yes! Here's how to store them for the best germination rate.


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