Old Seeds

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

Here's a Black Mustard (Brassica Nigra) plant , 4 weeks old and blooming , Started from seeds from 2003 !! neat huh..^_^
Seed saving really does work !!!

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Everett, WA(Zone 8a)


One site says "Mustard : 5-8 years". You got ten years - did you use any special tricks for saving them?

I keep reading reports by people who threw corn or beans in a paper bag in a shed and got good germination 10 years later.


Durhamville, NY(Zone 5b)

Nice. Seed is tougher than many think.

This isn't seed, but awesome anyway.

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

HI Rick . No tricks but they were left in the seed pod , hanging dry on the wall , in a bag .

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> left in the seed pod

That's a new one on me, for long-term storage!
And clearly it worked well.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Quite often old seed can be helped germinate using a soaking of hydrogen peroxide and water.

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

Seems to , if any bugs or germs are kept absent . A lot germinated (many) four made a plant ,
Leaving it at two plants out of at least 50 seeds that germinated .
They stored well , only something after was missing , likely me .. lol

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I agree that a presoak with diluted peroxide can help weak or slow seeds. It improved my results with old Salvia seeds by a lot.

I use a plastic ice-cube tray, and label each well with a tiny square from mini-blind slats, with a number written with a mechanical pencil.

Some people use much stronger H2O2 than I do. I dilute the 3% drugstore peroxide by 1:32 or 1:16

1:32 = 0.1% H2O2:
1 ounce peroxide per quart of water or
1.5 teaspoon H2O2 per cup of water.

1:16 = 0.2% H2O2:
use twice the peroxide or half the water.

You can also water or spray seedlings with this to discourage fungus / damping off.

Or some people use chamomile tea, or sprinkle with cinnamon.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Yeah, but you can get too many things in your cupboard (like my spices) and pretty soon you don't use any of it. I use the peroxide for watering my plants too. Many years ago I would buy this stuff called "Oxygen Plus" Cost quite a lot, for a small bottle and you put 2 squirts in your watering can each time you watered. I used it on my houseplants. Apartment living.

Well I used that up until a half a dozen or so years ago, Actually about the time I joined DG in 2004 (good grief that's a long time) that that stuff was actually hydrogen peroxide. Can you believe it? All those years of spending all that money? And that is what it was?

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

I think I gave up on all that stuff yeas ago , handy in the kitchen it gets used otherwise it's out .
What works , works , Everything else is to much to keep count of , it takes more fingers and thumbs than i have ,,,
I remember those oxygen drops for people .eyedropper bottle , 27 to 60 $'s weren't they?
Yeah I get it ...

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Oh yuck JU. I cannot imagine putting those in my eyes.

My houseplants were beautiful then. Could have been that I put them all in the shower once a week and turned it on luke warm for 5 minutes. All of them at once. They loved it. I guess, anyway they looked so nice.

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)


This message was edited Mar 9, 2015 10:32 AM

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Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Well JU, don't you think they were stratified in the shed, hanging year after year? Winter freezing?

You say probably the fridge is best. Never freeze seeds since that is a dry freeze without moisure which will damage the embroye (sp?) inside the seed. Many tree seeds require long dormancy before they will sprout.

However, most freezers are frost proof now and THAT is dry freezing. Oh well, to each his own. Jen

Brooksville, FL(Zone 9a)


That is wonderful news, as I just came a crossed some seeds from 2010. I'll give this a try, they are all perennials.


Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

Jen,, blomma had them in the shed , mine were hanging in a dry closet .
I agree , if seeds were not tough , would not be a green planet at all , sand ,clay brown ,maybe?

meadowyck; Kind of like a spring wintersow ,,? good luck .. Old seeds are even more fun when they grow ,, must be a satisfaction thing ..
Me and my mind ,,goodness ,,,lol

Calgary, AB(Zone 3b)

Quote from Jnette :
Well JU, don't you think they were stratified in the shed, hanging year after year?

This is a common misconception. Stratification only occurs when seeds are in contact with water and can take it up.

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

Brings to mind ; when they mold or get damp and germinate , then you get dried sprouts by the time you find them again ..
Thank you altagardener I was not aware of that ; knowingly of comprehension anyway ..

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

Quote from altagardener :

This is a common misconception. Stratification only occurs when seeds are in contact with water and can take it up.

Correct. Stratification in Nature is combination of cold and moisture which ends the formancy of the seed.

(Robin) Blissfield, MI(Zone 6a)

Thanks for the labeled germinating seed pics blomma...that's soo cool! This never ceases to amaze me.

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

You are welcome.

Sierra Foothills, CA(Zone 8a)

Mipii ~ That is for Blomma's next book....

(Robin) Blissfield, MI(Zone 6a)

Thanks Evelyn...Blomma, what is your next book?

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

I haven't had real good luck with old marigold seed.

My seed is in a garage that is dry, cold in the winter and hot in the summer. I don't think the garage gets below freezing much even though temps have been in the single digits this year (unusual).

I have some annual poppies (5 years maybe?) and annual snapdragons (2010). I am wondering how viable they are. I don't have good luck using the deno method on these seeds. I have had my best chances w. seed starting soil indoors with snapdragons.

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

I dry the little Marigolds , hanging in an open bag or tray in a dry place , Leaving then to dry in the pod(as many as will stat in the pod ) Never have grown any real old ones .
The ones I do grow , germinate better than 90% .

I get Snapdragons to germinate , but have a terrible time pot or soil block staring them ..
Zinnia seed head pods hang in the garage , in a bag , they do all right as far as germination,only it has to be hot for them to germinate , definitely a temperature activated seed . Like Sun Only ,,

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

I have noticed the plants that like the HEAT also need warmer temps to germinate.

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

Besides needing to type better ,,lol ,, It does seem that some of the Easy To Grow Annuals) are much more temperature sensitive , when germinating ,
Much more so than most , Etc Zinnia ,Snapdragon, Poppy, All seem really germination and growing temperature sensitive to me ..

Sierra Foothills, CA(Zone 8a)

Do you sow your poppies outside, or start them in pots? I thought they needed cold temps to germinate.

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

Quote from evelyn_inthegarden :
Do you sow your poppies outside, or start them in pots? I thought they needed cold temps to germinate.

They do , usually ... outside ,, Everything I can I start outside ,, I have a bunch of them as seeds , I have got to get planted ,
below zero and 3 ft of snow is slowing me down , So a hole digger and the knee boots , as soon as it is a comfy 20 degrees ?

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

For poppies, I throw the seed around on the snow. That's annual poppies. Orientals, well their something else. I have really struggled getting some of them.

For the most part, I have better success planting in pots and winter sowing. If I put seeds outside, they just disappear never to be seen again.

(Robin) Blissfield, MI(Zone 6a)

Birder, you'll have to try Juhur's method of direct sowing and covering with a container. I've done a lot of winter sowing this year but will certainly do more of direct seed and covering next fall.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

So, where are the instructions for Juhur's method of direct sowing and covering with a container? I have read all the posts Juhur has made on this thread and don't find any info.

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

a few pics. I think a few like the humor of the TP soil cubes , (but, he he, it works okay.
Here they are .My version of Granny's old winter cover jar ..from the old days .

First the cubes , last two in the garden

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Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

This is how they look Today ,,

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(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

What do you do about watering? They're in TP rolls, in a pan, and covered, so rain doesn't get in, right?

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

I did not remove the lids from the bottles , to start with , the first three pics are me making the cubes ,) following,, there is no pan , the cubes are watered with seeds in them then they are set out in the garden where they will grow .. no pan , nothing under them except earth ,, set them out there(in the garden) , you will see the answer about watering ...

Success rate does not include , Insect attacks , voles (creatures as voles) and various feet (foot stomping)
Other than that it works well , usually plant seedlings sprout and start before the insects do ,(a good thing )

This message was edited Feb 8, 2014 9:01 PM

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Thanks for the pics and explanation. I am surprised the bottle lids are left on.
So, when did you plant them? I suppose I could do the same in the early spring when the snow is gone. Gosh, maybe I should say "if" the snow goes away. Wow, we have had a lot of cold, snowy weather this season.

How do you keep them upright?

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

You don't have to leave the lids on the bottles , the earth their sitting on is"spongy" and the wind was strong the day I put them outside .. Wind can catch the bottles when their "no lid" open.
A little mulch to help secure the bottles in place usually works .and still lets plenty of air and moisture in ,
I planted my first poppy seed about December 27 . Early ...None During January ,,,
A few might get planted this month , only below zero keeps me from planting , ( I don't garden when it makes me uncomfortable)
The snow (I agree Lots and lots of Snow) I use a hole digger or shovel , or broom handle (whatever is handy) to poke holes in the snow , set the plug cubes on the ground , the bottles over the plug and cover them back over with the snow .
Watering from freeze and thaw (early in the year) is not a problem here

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Ah, mulch is a good idea. Are you planting seeds that need stratification this way? or just any seed? I am thinking it's way too early for me to plant some annuals like this? I need to start saving my toilet paper tubes!

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

Yes indeed , things to do with waste , The tubes mentioned , paper towel , Christmas wrapping paper ,, so on .
birder17 Seeds that need stratification I plant this way , rarely I will try others . I did do this fall planting some Feverfew , Hollyhock, Yarrow, Coneflower, and Delphiniums ,Lost the Delphiniums ,
All the others , though easy they are , grew Great !
Zinnia gets planted when the temps start climbing , mine hardly germinate below 80 degrees . (looking to be a while)

As earlier; With all the snow melt , I don't think any watering issue is going to occur , other than the possibility of to much .. That is here anyway . Anything planted early is going to be off to good start as far as water issues .

We have 21/2 inches of new snow ,so far today.. still snowing ..

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