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Trying to figure out how long a certain seed will last? Want your seeds to last for as many years as possible? Find all the answers to your questions in this article! 

Seeds are the closest thing to magic we know of…

It’s hard to believe those tiny little specks you’re holding in the palm of your hand are not only alive and metabolizing (albeit very slowly), but they also contain all the genetic and epigenetic information needed to grow an entire plant.

These tiny specks are alive and have all the genetic information they need to grow into kale plants.

These tiny specks are alive and have all the genetic information they need to grow into kale plants.

Then at a certain point in their life cycle, they’ll produce countless new seeds containing small bits of new information that will help them grow better in the particular environment the parent seed experienced. And the process starts anew.   

Watching a seed sprout to life and grow into a mature plant is a wonder-filled experience for both kids and adults. If you’re a gardener, you have the opportunity to be an integral part of this magical process many times throughout the year.     

How long do garden seeds last? 

Are you wondering how long your garden seeds will last? Answer: it depends, but generally somewhere between 2-5 years. 

The two factors that will impact the longevity and viability of your garden seeds include:  

  1. genetic differences based on seed type (some seeds last longer than others as you can see in the list at the bottom of this article);
  2. environmental conditions

Below, we provide a list of pretty much every type of garden seed available and how many years each seed will last when stored under normal indoor conditions (cool, dry, out of the sun). While you don’t have any control over your seeds’ genetic longevity, you do have control over the environment in which you store them.

How to maximize the longevity of your saved garden seeds

We grow hundreds of plant varieties every year and go through lots of seeds in the process. Our seed storage goals are to keep our seeds viable for at least 2-3 years before we can plant them all. 

This means we store our seeds as follows:

  • indoors in a climate-controlled environment to prevent temperature fluctuations and moisture exposure;
  • in boxes inside a dark room/closet to prevent sunlight exposure; 
  • inside plastic baggies to reduce moisture exposure. 

For most gardeners, this standard seed storage method is perfectly adequate. However, there are ways to store seeds that extends their longevity even longer…  

Can you freeze your garden seeds to extend their longevity? 

Around the world, countries and organizations have created “seed vaults” to try to preserve many of the landrace and/or heirloom seeds being lost to history as farms increasingly become larger operations that utilize hybrid or genetically engineered seeds. 

Heirloom maize, bean, and squash seeds. These were arguably the three most important crops in the Americas upon first contact with Europeans.

Heirloom maize, bean, and squash seeds. These were arguably the three most important crops in the Americas upon first contact with Europeans.

Perhaps the most famous of these seed vaults is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault located on the remote arctic island of Spitsbergen, where temperatures rarely rise above freezing. In this frigid underground seed vault, seeds from around the world are stored in special three-ply foil packets, heat sealed to exclude moisture, and kept at -0.4°F. 

Kept at that extreme low temperature, a living seed’s metabolism is brought to a standstill, allowing it to last far longer than it would under normal storage conditions. 

Nope, you don’t have to build a Svalbard Seed Vault in your backyard. If you want to store seeds for decades or even future generations, you can pack your seeds in vacuum sealed bags and place them in your home freezer, which is typically around 0°F.      

Garden seed viability list

Below is a list of common garden seeds and how many years they’ll last under normal storage conditions indoors.

Please note that this does NOT mean your seeds are doomed the moment they cross their year maximum threshold. It simply means those seeds will likely have significantly lower germination rates and plant vigor relative to newer seeds as they continue to age.  

Fruit & Veggie Seed Longevity: 

amaranth: 5-7 years 

artichoke: 5 years

arugula: 3 years

beans: 3-4 years

beets: 4 years 

bok choy: 4 years

broccoli: 3 years 

Brussels sprouts: 3 years

burdock: 3 years

cabbage: 4 years  

cardoon: 5 years

carrot: 3 years 

cauliflower: 4 years 

celery: 3 years 

chard: 4 years 

chicory: 4-5 years 

Chinese cabbage / Napa cabbage: 3-5 years 

claytonia: 5 years 

collard greens: 3-5 years 

cress: 5 years 

corn/maize: 1-3 years  

cucumbers: 3-6 years 

eggplants: 4-5 years 

ground cherries: 4-6 years 

honeydew melon: 4 years 

kale: 4 years 

kohlrabi: 4 years

leeks: 2-3 years 

lettuce: 3-5 years 

mache: 5 years  

muskmelons/cantaloupes: 4 years  

mustard: 3-5 years 

okra: 2-3 years 

parsnips: 1-3 years 

peas: 2-4 years  

peppers: 2-4 years 

onions: 1-2 years 

radish: 4-5 years  

rapini/Broccoli raab: 3-4 years  

rutabaga: 3-5 years 

salsify: 1-2 years  

scallions: 1-3 years 

sculpit/stridolo: 2-4 years 

shallots: 1-3 years 

soybeans: 3-5 years 

spinach: 2-3 years 

squash: 3-5 years  

stinging nettle: 3-5 years 

sunberry: 4-6 years 

sunflower (not a fruit or veggie, but…): 3-5 years 

strawberry: 2 years 

tomatillos: 3 years 

tomatoes: 4-7 years  

turnips: 4-5 years 

watermelon: 4-5 years 

Herb Seed Longevity:

angelica: 2 years 

anise: 1-3 years 

basil: 3-5 years 

borage: 3-5 years

caraway: 1-2 years 

catnip: 3 years 

chamomile: 4 years 

chervil: 1-4 years 

chives: 1-3 years 

cilantro: 2-4 years

dill: 2-4 years 

fennel: 1-2 years 

hyssop: 2-4 years  

lavender: 4 years  

lemon balm: 2-4 years 

lovage: 1-3 years 

marjoram: 2-4 years  

mint: 3 years 

monarda/bee balm – 4 years 

oregano: 4 years 

papalo: 1-2 years  

parsley: 2-3 years 

pipicha: 1-2 years 

rosemary: 2-4 years 

rue: 2 years 

sage: 1-3 years 

savory: 2-4 years 

shiso/perilla: 3 years   

sorrel: 4 years 

spilanthes: 2 years 

stevia: 3-5 years  

thyme: 2-4 years   

valerian: 2-3 years  

Save seeds for the future

We hope the information in this article helps you to better plan and save seeds for the future. The survival of the world’s seed supply doesn’t just depend on scientists and seed vaults, it depends on gardeners like you. 

Please keep growing and saving seeds for the future. The reward? The world’s freshest, most nutritious food straight from your garden.