Old Seed Viability Test

If you’re really into gardening than I’ll bet you have packages of seeds stored somewhere in your house. Perhaps you have forgotten that you have them and have either bought new seeds or plants during the last few years to stock your garden.

If you have discovered old packages of seed and don’t know for sure if they would germinate now, there are some things you can do to test their viability.

If a package of seeds is stored for more than a few years you should perform a test to see if they are still viable.
(Courtesy: Durley Beachbum at flickr.com)

The obvious first thing to do is check the package. Seeds usually stay viable for at least a few years if they are stored properly. That means that they should have been placed in a room where there is low humidity and temperature.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a room that experiences the proper temperature and humidity should add up to less than 100.

That probably needs some kind of explanation.

First, let’s start on how you can determine the humidity and temperature of the rooms in your home.

It is suggested that you purchase a multi-purpose thermometer and hydrometer. Go from room to room of your house and take its temperature and check out its humidity. If the temperature of the room and the humidity level is added up and the answer you get is less than 100, then that room is an ideal place to store your seeds.

Of course, the easier thing to do is just check the package to see what year the seeds were packed. There should be a stamp that says something like, “Packed for 2016.” Whatever year you bought the seeds, rest assured that if the pack is only a year old or slightly older and the package has remained sealed, then the contents should germinate nicely.

However, if the package has been lying around in a room that is properly balanced between humidity and temperature for more than three years, then you need to test the seeds’ viability.

To perform the test you will need:

· Seeds
· Paper Towel
· Plastic Sandwich Bag
· Permanent Marker
· Water

Follow these steps:

1. Lightly moisten the paper towel, and then fold it in half.
2. Place 10 seeds from the package in question on the paper towel, and then fold the towel in half again so the seeds are covered.
3. Place the paper towel with the seeds into a plastic sandwich bag and seal.
4. Write the seed name and date on the bag.
5. Store the bag in a warm spot.
6. Check the bag each day to see if any of the seeds have germinated and remoisten the paper towel if needed.
7. Continue checking the bag each day until you reach the germination time described on the seed package.
8. Count how many seeds have germinated and use this information to calculate the viability. If 8 of the 10 seeds germinate, that calculates to 80% viability.
9. If you decide to use the seeds, plant extra to make certain that enough germinate.

About Robert Janis

Written by Robert Janis for LawnEq - Your specialists for Lawn Mower Parts and Small Engine Parts. We offer genuine premium OEM parts for Land Pride, Toro and many more dependable manufacturers.