How Long Can Heirloom Seeds Be Stored?

Whether it’s for doomsday prepping or just for a healthy lifestyle, more folks are now planting and storing their heirloom seeds for the long term. People these days don't just want bigger and better-tasting vegetables; they also want to prepare for the uncertainty of the future by storing away their seeds.

Heirloom seeds are great but many folks want to know how long the seeds can be stored. The answer depends on how well you store your seeds. You must know certain things before storing seeds to ensure that they’ll be capable of producing well for a long time. If you follow some simple guidelines, you can expect your seeds to last for years and deliver when you need them.

Best Heirloom Seed Storage Tips

  • First and foremost, check the humidity in which the seeds are packaged and stored. You can’t have a lot of moisture content in the seeds or the packaging especially if you’re going to freeze them.
  • The moisture content is generally agreed to be 5% or less so that the seeds won’t split when frozen. So it’s good to use things like a desiccant when storing seeds to ensure low moisture content.
  • An ideal way to store seeds is to place them into a zip lock bag that has low moisture content and then seal the bag properly. Next, place the bag into an clean, airtight and empty glass jar and screw the lid down tight.
  • Placing a small desiccant pack into the jar is also advisable.
  • For short-term storage, such as for next year's garden, storing the seed jar in a cool, dark, moisture-free environment is sufficient. Heirloom seeds stored this way will last for 3-5 years.
  • For longer storage, place the jar in the refrigerator and the seeds should be good for 10-15 years.
  • For very long-term storage, the jar should be placed into a freezer and the seeds will remain viable for decades.

    One word of caution: when removing the seeds from the refrigerator or freezer, allow them to sit out at room temperature overnight so that when you open the jar, you don’t create condensation which could compromise the moisture content in the seeds and the container.

    By following these basic seed storage tips, you should be able to enjoy and benefit from your heirloom seeds for many years to come. For more information, feel free to download our Planting & Storing PDF Guide to get the best tips on growing and saving on heirloom varieties.