Ashleigh Smith + photo

Ashleigh Smith

Sep 27
4 min read
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How long do seeds last in packets?

Originally Published Nov 29, 2021

Updated Sep 27, 2022

Do Seeds Expire?

Many people see a year written on the back of a seed packet and think this is an expiration date. While seeds do lose viability over time, they don’t have standard expiration dates like you would see on packaged food. Seeds are living things. They are able to be stored for several years if kept under the right conditions. Following this article we have included a link to our new Seed Life and Storage Resources page for advice on how to store your seeds to get the best life out of them.

How Long Do Seeds Last For?

Exactly how long you can save a seed depends on what it is. Different seeds have different storage capacities. Below are some of the most common types of seed to save:

These values are simply an estimation. To know if those extra seeds you have kept in a bucket are still good just do a germination test. To do this, wet a paper towel and roll up 10 or more of one type of seed. Keep this damp paper towel full of seeds in a plastic bag.

After 5-14 days you should be able to count how many have germinated. The results will help you know how well you can rely on that batch of seed. Plant at a rate you feel confident in. For example, if only 5 of 10 seeds germinated you may want to plant twice as many seeds as you want to grow to maturity since half of them likely won’t germinate.

Why is there a year stamped on my paper packet?

How seeds are stored make a big difference on how long they will stay viable for. The biggest influence is the temperature and type of container the seeds are kept in. For the best seed life store your seeds in the fridge or freezer.

Looser packaging such as paper packets tend to leave the seed more susceptible to a changing environment. For this reason paper packets are required to have a “packaged for” year. This year stamped on the packet is often confused as being an expiration date.

Standard Seed packet

The reality is, this seed is just fine to use for years to come. The same seed may also come packaged in a sealed plastic or mylar bag which will better preserve your seeds from external environmental factors. To extend the storage life of your paper packet, store your packets in a plastic bag or sealed container in a cool and dark place. To prevent bugs or mice form reaching your seed collection, place your packets in a glass mason jar.

Why is there a "Packed for" year insert in my kit or seed assortment?

This means your kit or assortment was made entirely with seeds packed for the same year to ensure equal germination across varieties. In these cases, the "packed for" date is included on an insert inside of the kit/assortment and NOT on the individual paper packets themselves. This is because all the paper packets in your kit were packaged at the same time, so you can be confident all of your seeds will germinate as expected.

Each paper packet does include a lot number that allows us to identify and track the seed in our system. If one variety inside of a kit/assortment comes back with a low germination result, our system allows us to locate those packets immediately. All kits/assortments with even one low germination packet will then be opened and the packet replaced.

We don't just stick on a "packed for" date and then assume your seeds are great for that year. We regularly check the lots and update as needed, so you know we are sending fresh, high germination packets to our customers every day.

For More information check out our Seed Life and Storage Resources Page

Ashleigh Smith's photo

I'm Ashleigh Smith, a native to Northern Utah. I first gained a love of gardening with my grandmother as I helped her each summer. I decided to make a career of it and have recently graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Horticulture from Brigham Young University - Idaho. My studies have focused on plant production while I also have experience in Nursery & Garden Center Operations.

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Janelle Huston AKA Garden Glam Goddess

I loved your article. It was very nice. It is always interesting to learn about the language of flowers. This is a wonderful advertisement for a gift that can be given to friends and nonromantic relationships. Perfect for “Galentine’s Day” and “Palentine’s Day.” Thank you.


I learned a lot from this article! We give our cat wheatgrass but never knew how good it was for them! I just bought some seeds to grow our own so our cat can have it all the time.

Kathie Hitt

This is amazing! I had no idea you could grow your own popping corn. Will be definitely adding to my fall gardening plan to surprise my family. Thank you!


Thank you for the helpful information! As a beginner gardener it has been tempting to start everything indoors. It’s helpful to know that it best to directly sow some crops.


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