packed for date on seed packets how long are they good?

diffusejerryFebruary 21, 2006

Hi, I have seen 1000 seed pack lots on online auction house Ebaay... how does the packed for date matter ? When will seeds expire? Here is how many different variety's there are from the Item description...

Vegetables: Early wonder beet, Brussel sprouts, Snowball cauliflower, American flag leek, Black seeded simpson lettuce, Great Lakes lettuce, Florida Broadleaf, Clemson Spineless Okra, Lisbon white bunching Onion, Walla Walla Sweet Onion, Sweet spanish Onion, Red creole Onion, Little marvel Pea, Sugar Snap pea, Big max Pumpkin, Jack be little Pumpkin, Jack O' Lantern, White Icicle Radish, Sparkler radish, Table ace Squash, Lucullus swiss chard, Jubilee watermellon, Chinese Michihili, Mammoth Sweet basil, Long Island Mammoth dill, Vulgare Oregano, Italian plain Parsley, Moss Cured Parsley, Sage, German Winter Thyme, FLOWERS: Bachelor button, Black eyed susan, California poppy, Echinacea, Flax Blue, Forget me not, Ornamental Kale, Russel Mix Lupine, Mixed morning glory, Shirley mix Poppy, statice, Sweet alyssum, sweet pea royal family, sweet pea winter perennial, sweet william, Wildflower mix, California Giant Zinnia...Just wanted to make sure all seeds will sprout because I know different variety's have different germination periods... Is there a chart or something?

thanks jerry

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ljrmiller(z7 NV)

I know that parsnip seed is very perishable, only good for the season that it's offered, and that peas and beans (and their relatives, e.g. lupines) are good almost forever. Beyond that, I have no idea.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2006 at 5:20PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

I know of no seed that benefits from storage. I would like to know when the seed was collected. Saving my own seed I always mark the month and year of collection. Al

    Bookmark   February 22, 2006 at 9:47AM
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sedum37(Z5 MA)

Some seeds must be very fresh to germinate. Having said this, I grow many seeds under lights and keep the seeds from year to year. I keep them in the refridge in a tightly sealed glass mason jar containing dessicant packets (like those you find in shoe boxes or pocket books). I also enclose the seed packets in zip lock bags for extra protection. I put the seeds right in the mason jar when I purchase them. Seeds won't last that long if you keep them around your warm house in a draw in the kitchen then try to germinate them or put them in the refridge later! You have to care for the seeds right from when you purchase them just like you care for new plants or seedlings. Except for a few varieties I've gotten very good germination from seed packets that are 5 to 10 years old if you can believe it! These include annuals, perennials and herb seeds.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2006 at 2:18PM
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crankyoldman(z5 NY)

Some seeds completely lose viability shortly after they are ripe and can't hack dry storage, but most are fine with dry storage, and a lot of seeds actually benefit from dry storage and become easier to germinate over several years, with then gradually decreasing viability. What's important is how they are stored. If they are exposed to heat or humidity, their viability can decrease greatly. But if they are kept cool and dry, they can last for many years. Seed banks store seeds dry and frozen and estimate 200+ years of seed viability under these conditions. The best thing to do is test some seeds from each batch. Then you will know what you are starting with. You can usually do a quick germination test on a wet paper towel. Then store the ones that are good in dry, cool conditions.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2006 at 3:30PM
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almostenough(z5 IN)

diffusejerry, I bought a big lot of seed through Ebay a couple years ago. I think the seed was 2 years old and I'm pretty sure it hadn't been stored under optimum condtions(a few packets showed some water damage).
They didn't germinate as well as new seed, but I felt I got my money's worth. There were a few varieties that didn't sprout at all. Very few of the herbs came up and a few of the flowers were also a bust.
It was a good experience, it got me to try a few things that I wouldn't have thought about otherwise.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2006 at 5:51PM
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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

"Packed for" is a bit naughty. Very often it means picked one year, stored for a year or two, then "packed for" the next year's sales. Caveat emptor!

    Bookmark   February 23, 2006 at 7:17AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

How many times have you visited a nursery and seen their seed racks standing in front in the hot sunshine day in and day out? Al

    Bookmark   February 23, 2006 at 10:08AM
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sedum37(Z5 MA)

Al - so true especially the box stores -- Sometimes out in the weather too (rained on)! I try to go very early when the seeds are just put out in the stores, one for the best selection and secondly since you can properly store the seed packets at home.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2006 at 10:52AM
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paul299(z4 Minnesota)

The dates have nothing to do with how fresh the seeds are. Seed sold in the US and other parts
of the world must have a lot number and a sell by or packaged for date that is 8 to 12 months
(can be longer if the seed is sealed in heretically sealed packet) from the time the seed was tested
for germination.

Seed can be 10 years old and still be sold with an expiration date 12 months away as long as it
has been germination tested and passed.

There are number of seeds that do not germinate when fresh, but need months to years of dry
storage before they will germinate.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 6:00AM
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Thank you all I bought the 1000 seed packets online! WOW Were you guys ever right!, Weird how aging seeds sometimes increases the germination rate...So I ended up buying those seeds on E-B-A-Y! They came and are Amazing I am planting up the sides of my cities leaf/compost(happens to be in my backyard... some good things come from the stench pile sometimes ;) and taking the starts to our saturday market... With the seed that cheap I am going to rake it in this!!!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 10, 2006 at 1:40PM
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This is a great thread and if it isn't in a FAQ, it should be. Also loved the picture and would like to hear an update on what happened to all those seeds?

    Bookmark   May 12, 2007 at 2:22AM
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Is all the above advice true for flower seeds as well? I'm looking at a whole bunch of flower seeds I bought up to three years ago and a never got around to planting. I'm trying to decide if I should scrap them and go out and buy new ones, or if I should give them a try. Any thoughts?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 5:15PM
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tomakers(SE MA Zone 5/6 or ?)

My experience is try them, they will probably germinate enough to make it worth while. I regularly use seed way out of date. Just sow it heavy (and probably have way too many).

    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 11:17PM
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