Seeds, How Long Do They Last?
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Caroline Richardson
Posted on: December 20, 1999

I recently purchased some seeds from Richter’s, probably in haste. I decided to begin a herb garden, having recently moved, and in my enthusiasm I failed to take into consideration a zone 6 winter.

I appreciate that these seeds (nasturtium, pennyroyal, clove pink, basil etc.) should be planted in the spring, April time. Do seeds in unopened packets last? What is their approximate shelf life, or will I need to buy more seeds in the spring?

This may seem like a very novice question, but surprisingly in the literature for novices it covers many aspects of herb growing and usage, but not how old the seeds should or shouldn’t be!

To lengthen the life of seeds place the packets in the fridge until ready to use them. Most seeds lose about 10 % of their viability per year. Some may lose 30 to 100 %, but those that must be planted immediately are always marked by us with a warning to that effect. The 4 seeds you mentioned should give you no trouble with spring planting. Just be careful to keep basil very warm, because even temperatures close to freezing will make it die. It is very tropical.

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