When it comes to storing seed for future use, there are three words you need to remember: cool, dark, and dry. In order to germinate, seeds need moisture, light, and warmth, so if you want to keep them for next year, you need to provide exactly the opposite conditions. Here are some basic seed storage tips:
Collect seeds when they are fully ripe and mature on the plant. Allowing seeds to dry on the plant in their normal growing environment will help ensure they’re ready to germinate the following year. Get more info here: Saving Seeds from Flowers and How to Save Tomato Seeds.
Allow seeds to dry for a few days on newspapers or paper towels in a well-ventilated area. Write the names of the seeds on the newspaper if you do more than one type at a time.
Place the seeds in a paper envelope and label with name and date. I also recommend taking time to make notes about the seeds – color, size, planned location for next year, and so on. You can use any kind of small paper envelope, or make your own. The Birds and Blooms Seed Packets template below will print two-to-a-page and has room for notes, as well as web links to articles here on our blog for both storing and staring seeds.
- Click the image to open the document and then click the Print button. Regular printer paper works just fine.
- Cut out the template(s). Fold the bottom flap up first, then the shorter side flap. Use a glue stick to apply glue to these two flaps, and then fold the long side flap over and press to seal.
- Allow envelope to dry for several hours or overnight. Complete the label information, including any notes.
- Pour seeds inside, fold over top flap, and glue to seal.
Once your seeds are in labeled packets, place them inside a glass jar (don’t use plastic, as it can harbor moisture) with a tightly-sealing lid. Mason jars work well, or jars with rubber gaskets. You can keep multiple packets in the same jar, and add seed packets as you save them. To ensure seed stays dry throughout the storage season, add a silica gel packet of the kind found in pill bottles and shoe boxes.
Place the jar in a cool dark place. Cellars or garages can work well, unless they receive freezing temperatures in the winter. Place the jar in the refrigerator, on a shelf that’s furthest away from the freezer section. Most seeds will store for one year, although some will store for longer. Click here to view charts showing vegetable seed storage times.
These are just some general tips for storing seeds. Remember that no matter how careful you are, not all seeds will germinate next season, and hybridized species may not come true from seed the following year. What tips do you have for storing seeds? Share them with us in the comments below.