6 Tips For Storing Your Saved Seeds

Saving seeds for next year? You’ll need to store them properly to ensure good germination.

September 15, 2016
storing seedsPhotograph by Charlotte Lake/Shutterstock

You've harvested your summer seeds and now it's time to store them to help you get a jump-start on next season—but storing them improperly could make your dreams of a boutiful garden fall flat. Follow our easy guide to storing your saved seeds that will save you time and money and give you your best harvest yet. 

Related: How To Harvest Sunflower Seeds

(Attention tomato enthusiasts: Check out Rodale's Epic Tomatoes, the ultimate guide to growing more than 200 varieties!)

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Gather Seeds

If you’re gathering and saving seeds from your own plants, spread the seeds on newspaper and let them air-dry for about a week. Write seed names on the newspaper so there’s no mix-up. Pack the air-dried seeds in small paper packets or envelopes and label with plant name other pertinent information. Remember, if you want to save your own seeds, you’ll need to plant open-pollinated varieties. They’ll come back true; hybrids won’t.

You can also dry saved seeds on paper towels. They’ll stick to the towels when dry, so roll them up right in the towel to store them. When you’re ready to plant, just tear off bits of the towel, one seed at a time, and plant seed and towel right in the soil.

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Where And How To Store

Keep seed packets in plastic food storage bags, plastic film canisters, Mason jars with tight-fitting lids, or glass canisters with gasketed lids. Once you've gotten your storing container, think dry and cool no matter where you store seed. Humidity and warmth shorten a seed’s shelf life, so the refrigerator is generally the best place to store seeds—but keep your seed-storage containers well away from the freezer section of your refrigerator.

Related: 50 Foods You Don't Need To Keep In The Fridge

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Keep Seeds Dry

To keep seeds dry, wrap two heaping tablespoons of powdered milk in four layers of facial tissue, then put the milk packet inside the storage container with the seed packets. You can also add a packet of silica gel in with the seeds. Replace every six months.

Related: How To Start Seeds

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Date Seeds

Store each year’s seeds together and date them. Because most seeds last about three years, you’ll know at a glance which container of seeds might be past its prime when planting season comes.

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Ready To Plant

When you’re ready to plant, remove seed containers from the refrigerator and keep them closed until the seeds warm to room temperature. Otherwise, moisture in the air will condense on the seeds, causing them to clump together.

Related: 5 Seed Banks Worth Visiting

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Accept Any Losses

Even if you’re organized, methodical, and careful about storing seeds, accept the fact that some seeds just won’t germinate the following year. Home gardeners will find that stored sweet corn and parsnip seeds, in particular, have low germination rates, and other seeds will only remain viable for a year or two.

Related: See The Easy Trick To Saving Tomato Seeds

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