How long do garden seeds last?

Most seed packets tell you the year it should be planted. If you store them in a cool, dry place, you may be able to extend it for another year.

To know whether your seeds will germinate and grow, you can do the following:

  • place 10 seeds evenly on a damp paper towel
  • roll up the towel and place in a plastic bag
  • put the damp towel in a warm place
  • after 3 to 7 days check to see which seeds have germinated

The number of seeds that grow will give you an idea of how they will do in the garden.

Seed life for common vegetables and flowers

3-5 years

  • Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi
  • Collard, kale

4 years

  • Radishes
  • Turnips

3 years:

  • Bush and pole beans
  • Carrots
  • Asian greens
  • Cucumbers
  • Melons
  • Peas
  • Rutabagas
  • Squashes
  • Tomatoes

2 years

  • Beets
  • Sweet corn
  • Leeks, onions
  • Lettuce
  • Parsley
  • Peppers
  • Swiss chard

1 season

  • Parsnips
  • Spinach

For flowers:

  • Annuals are generally good for 1 to 3 years
  • perennials for 2 to 4 years

To learn more, see Give seeds a test for A+ performance.

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