Always knowing when to
plant, prune, and harvest.

All you need is the right checklist.

How Long Do Seeds Last? Complete Viability Guide [Free Chart]

INSIDE: How long do seeds last? Find out which flower and vegetable seeds you can keep and which seeds should go. Keep reading to download a free seed viability chart.

As you thumb through half-empty seed packets left over from last year or even several years ago, you wonder if they’re still good.

You shrug, plant the seeds, and cross your fingers. If they don’t germinate, you’ll buy some new ones.

Here’s my prediction. By the time you notice the seeds haven’t germinated, your garden will be several weeks behind where it should be.

And that’s not good.

It’ll stop you from getting the most out of your garden this year.

But you can easily avoid this mistake. Keep reading to find out how.

BONUS: As a bonus for joining my weekly newsletter, download a free Seed Viability Chart. It answers the question, “are these seeds too old to plant?”

This post may contain affiliate links. So, I may get a small commission if you buy something after clicking through. I only link to products I would recommend to my best friend.

packet of melon seeds
Not all seeds last a long time. Some are only good for a season or two.

How long do seeds last in storage?

Most seeds can last for several years when they’re stored properly.

Seeds that are stored in a cool, dark, dry place will last through their expiration date.

When a seed experiences less-than-ideal storage conditions, its longevity, and viability decline.

Three things will determine whether your seeds are still viable:

  1. Age of the seeds. All seeds will be viable for one to two years. After two or three years, germination rates will drop for many types of seeds and will eventually fall to zero. So, stocking up on seeds for an “emergency” isn’t a good idea because they don’t last forever. Download a free chart that tells you if your seeds are too old.
  2. The type of seed. What type of seed you have will also affect how long it’s viable.
    • Some seeds like onions and sweet corn have a short lifespan, while others like cucumber and melon can last up to 6 years.
    • If you buy pelleted seed, use it within one year because the pelleting process can reduce the seed’s lifespan.
  3. How you’ve stored the seeds. Seeds stay viable much longer when you store them in a cool, dry, dark place. Reducing humidity is key. This can be as simple as storing seeds in a sealed plastic bag with some rice or desiccant packets to absorb excess humidity. You should store the bags in a cool, dark place.

Related: The best catalogs to have on hand when buying seeds.

Pro tip: Save time by writing the expected expiration date on your seed packets. Then you won’t have to spend time every year deciding whether your seeds are still good.

How to make your seeds last longer

Even though they appear lifeless, seeds are living things. So, how you treat your seeds out in the garden is important.

  • Don’t leave them lying outside to bake in the hot sun or let them get wet.
  • And don’t leave them in your greenhouse or shed.
  • If you always put your seed packets away in a cool, dark spot when you’re done with them, your seeds will last longer.

Related: Set up a DIY seed starting system in an afternoon.

How long do flower seeds last?

Most perennial flower seeds are good for 3 to 5 years, and most annual flower seeds should last for two to four years.

Wildflower seeds, which often come as a mix of annuals and perennials, have a shelf life of 1-3 years.

Flower seed viability chart

Here are some lifespan guidelines for popular flower seeds. Your seeds’ shelf life depends on how carefully you’ve stored your seed packets.


How long your flower seeds will last depends on how well you store them. Keep them in a cool place, away from sunlight and humidity.

Download a FREE handy seed chart as a bonus for joining my newsletter: send me the Seed Viability Chart!

How long do vegetable seeds last?

How long vegetable seeds can be stored varies widely, depending on the seed type and storage conditions.

Your vegetable seed packets will last through their expiration date if kept cool, dry, and away from sunlight.

Here are some rules of thumb to help you determine how long you can store your seeds.

Vegetable seed viability

Seeds that remain viable for up to 5 years:

  1. Beets
  2. Broccoli
  3. Brussels sprouts
  4. Cabbage
  5. Cauliflower
  6. Celery & Celeriac
  7. Cucumber
  8. Eggplant
  9. Kale
  10. Lettuce
  11. Melon
  12. Peppers
  13. Pumpkins
  14. Radish
  15. Rutabaga
  16. Spinach
  17. Squash & gourds
  18. Swiss chard
  19. Tomato
  20. Turnip
  21. Watermelon

Make seed starting easier this year. Download my FREE Seed Viability Chart.

Seeds that are viable for up to 4 years:

  1. Artichoke & cardoon
  2. Asparagus
  3. Beans
  4. Carrots
  5. Mustard
  6. Peas

Seeds that stay viable for up to 3 years:

  1. Asian greens
  2. Corn, sweet

Seeds that are viable for 1-2 years:

  1. Leeks
  2. Okra
  3. Onions
  4. Parsnip
  5. Rhubarb

Take the guesswork out of starting seeds. Get my FREE Seed Viability Chart.

How long are seeds good for—are your old seeds viable?

The question to ask yourself when planting old seeds is, are they still viable?

  • Are your seeds still alive?
  • Will they germinate and grow into healthy plants?
gardener shaking seeds out of seed packet onto soil
If your seeds are older, sow them more thickly.

You can do a simple germination test to find out if they’ll sprout. (See tips below for testing your seed germination rates).

But a germination test won’t tell you whether they’re vigorous enough to reach maturity and give you a good harvest. (Agricultural labs test for seed vigor, but it’s not something we home gardeners can do accurately.)

Even so, if you do a germination test of old seeds and the seedlings seem stunted (smaller than normal leaves or root systems), it’s probably time to start over with new seeds.

Related: How to prevent leggy seedlings.

How to test your seeds

If you’re uncertain whether your old garden seeds will germinate, you can do a germination test.

Related freebies: FREE gardening printables.

Frequently asked questions about seed viability

Can old seeds still grow? How do you know if seeds are too old?

1. Check the age of the seeds. You’ll find the year they were packed for on the back of the packet. 2. Download a free seed viability chart and check the age of the seeds against the years listed on the chart. 3. Throw out any seeds that are too old.

Do seeds expire?

Yes, seeds expire. How long they’ll last depends on the variety and how well you’ve stored them. Store your seeds in a cool, dark, dry place to extend their shelf life.

How long do seeds last in packets?

When stored properly, seeds in packets can last for several years. Flower seeds can last from 2-5 years, and vegetable seeds can last 1-6 years. Snag a free seed viability chart to find out if your seed packets are still good.

Do herb seeds expire?

Yes, herb seeds do expire. Most herb seeds are good for two to six years. Download a free seed viability chart to find out if your herb seeds are still good.

What happens if you use old seeds?

When you use old seeds, some may not germinate. Depending on how old the seeds are, they may also not be as viable as fresh seeds, which means the plants may not produce as well or mature as quickly as they would if you had used fresh seeds.

Do vegetable seeds expire?

Yes, vegetable seeds expire. Most vegetable seeds last from one to six years. It depends on the type of vegetable. Grab a free seed viability chart to make sure it’s OK to plant your vegetable seeds.

Download your free seed viability chart

This chart covers seed longevity for more than 100 types of vegetables and flowers!

Here’s a sneak peek of the chart that answers the question, “how long do seeds last?”

seed viability chart

Want more help with seed starting?

If you liked this article, you’ll love these posts!

Cheryl Spencer, certified gardener

Hi, I’m Cheryl Spencer, a Certified Gardener.

Born with a plant addiction that has no known cure, I became a Certified Gardener to help ease the symptoms. Now I write articles and create gardening products that help you save time and money in your garden. I believe you can grow your dream garden and still have time to enjoy it. The good news? Anyone can do it. Start here »

4 thoughts on “How Long Do Seeds Last? Complete Viability Guide [Free Chart]”

  1. Would like to Thank You for all your helpful ideas & also for your time devoted to helping develop a Fun & exciting Gardening experience
    Great Work 👍🏽

    1. Cheryl Spencer

      Hi Kel,

      You are very welcome!! I’m glad you like the site.😊

  2. Lisa Copes

    How long do flower seed packets last do you have a list for them?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *