How Should I Store Seeds?


“I have packets of seeds from last year. One is a hummingbird mix, one a bee mix, 1 a honey bee mix etc. They’ve been stored in a plastic container in my basement, so they’ve been cool and dry. Should I refrigerate them from now until I’m ready to sow them or just leave them in the basement?” Question from Erin of Kirkwood, Missouri

Answer: Most annual and perennial seeds of temperate plants prefer similar storage conditions–as you said, they like it cool and dry. If properly stored, they can survive for several years with seed viability declining incrementally. In general, count on a storage life of around three to five years. (Click here for a detailed seed-storage chart from Johnny’s Seeds.)

Seeds store best when humidity is low and temperatures are around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. A cool, dry basement should be just fine, as long as it’s cool enough in winter and you store your seeds in a water-tight container. After planting them this spring, transition them into a well-sealed plastic container and keep them in the refrigerator because your basement will certainly be warmer through summer.

I hope that your flower seeds germinate beautifully!

Happy gardening!

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist



Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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