Does it damage seeds to freeze them or does variety matter?

julio01November 2, 2008

Question about starting Ginko Seeds or for that matter any seeds:

Should seeds be frozen to simulate a winter? Specifically Ginko seeds.

Not having grown anything from seed before except for Golden raintrees where I put the seeds in the freezer for several days. They did sprout in pots after freezing but I couldn't get them to sprout before freezing. It worked and the trees are now outside (Golden Raintree).

I've done the same with my Ginko seeds and kept them in the freezer for the last few months. I noticed comments that the seeds should be kept moist. My question is if anyone knows whether I killed my Ginko seeds by keeping them in the freezer and shouldn't bother trying to plant them. Any advice would be appreciated.


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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Sometimes, freezing may damage some seeds. That depends partly on the moisture content of the seed - the abrupt change from room temperature to the freezer can shatter cells.

In most cases, freezing isn't helpful. Recent research demonstrates that freezing isn't necessary and while seeds may not be damaged by temperatures below the freezing point, the conditioning process (stratification) is put on hold at these low temperatures and resumes when the seeds are not quite so cold. Dry storage in a freezer is storage.

Ginkgo - sow outdoors when fresh, or sow 10 weeks moist warm @ 70ºF , then 2 - 3 months @ 39ºF, move back to 70ºF for germ in an additional 30 - 60 days.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2008 at 11:36AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Some seeds are prone to weevil infestations. Freezing can be used to kill the weevils without damageing the seed. Al

    Bookmark   November 6, 2008 at 8:55AM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

Somewhere, someplace, once upon a time I read that the more tropical the plant the more likely it was to be damaged by freezing.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2008 at 12:50PM
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In general, how long can seed be frozen (dry) and be expected viable?

I have a number of varieties that I was cold moist stratifying in the spring. Once it became clear I wouldn't have time to sow them, I put the baggies of seeds that hadn't started germinating in the freezer... thinking that the freeze would prevent them from germinating.

This thread concerns me that the moisture in the seeds from having been in the baggies means that the seeds could be damaged now that they've been frozen. However, it seems to be that here in Ohio seeds that would drop to the ground would experience freezes.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 10:12AM
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I will try starting them indoors this winter and will post a msg. on whether they come up or not.


    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 8:46AM
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FYI, of all the seeds I put in the freezer, all appear to have rotted. Maybe not rotted, the freeze destroyed them.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 11:23AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Freezing only works if the seeds are well dried first and most home seed savers just don't dry their seeds that well. Any moisture left in the seeds will freeze and rupture the cell walls - end result, if not mush, in non-viable seeds.

Professional seed suppliers have access to much better drying equipment and flash freezing equipment not available to the home seed saver.

And freezing isn't necessary anyway. With the exception of a few flower varieties and members of the allium family, most all seeds will store fine for many years if just kept cool, dry, and out of direct sun or high humidity.

You will find many discussions about how to properly save and store seeds over on the Seed Saving forum here (linked at the top of the page on this, the Growing from Seed Forum).


    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 11:40AM
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