Will my flowers grow?
April 8, 2009 3:59 PM   Subscribe

How long is a pack of flower seeds good for?

I have 4 packs of flower seeds (sunflowers and morning glorys) that I bought last spring but never used. They have been sitting in my dark, cool pantry unopened since then. Will they grow if I plant them? Or will I be wasting my time, hoping for flowers that never come?
posted by boulder20something to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Just seed a bit denser than normal and you should be fine. One year isn't too bad...
posted by shrabster at 4:15 PM on April 8, 2009

Agreeing with shrabster. The season they're packaged for, almost all of them sprout. A year later, not quite as many, but still enough to go for it. After many years, few (or none) of the seeds will germinate.
posted by exphysicist345 at 4:21 PM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've successfully germinated seeds that were packed 5 seasons before. All depends on how they were stored. Yours should be fine.

(You might be wasting your time if you're hoping for flowers, though. Lots of varieties don't bloom in their first year. Check first, to avoid disappointment.)
posted by mudpuppie at 4:35 PM on April 8, 2009

Just a year after their package date, you'll probably be okay. If you want to be extra cautious, you can test them for their germination rate. Supplies needed: paper towel, water, plastic bag.

With the morning glories, depending on what variety you've got. you may want to nick their seed casings with a knife (or rub with some sandpaper) and then soak them overnight to help give them a headstart before planting.

Good luck!
posted by trunk muffins at 4:38 PM on April 8, 2009

Yeah, plant away! I'm constitutionally incapable of throwing away seed, so have often planted three and four year old seed out of already-opened packages. The germination rates may not be QUITE as high, but it's often to a barely-noticeable degree. The only seeds i've had little luck with saving have been tiny ones, like viola--big seeds seem to hold up better; maybe more potential nourishment for the seed? Less likelihood of drying out? Dunno.

Oh, and morning glories? The first year I planted them I was all careful about the soaking/nicking, but honestly, the best procedure is to shove 'em in the dirt and run away; the sprouting vines can take your head right off if you're standing too close. Then mulch with gravel and a cinder block or two, and you should be good. Don't plant them anywhere you do not want many years of morning glories, either; they happily replant themselves year after year and are nigh-impossible to eradicate once started. They are very pretty, though.

happy planting!
posted by miss patrish at 6:39 PM on April 8, 2009

If you would like to see if the seeds are still viable open the packets and remove a small percentage of the seeds, and then lay them between a wet paper towel folded in half. After a week you will see how many of the seeds germinate, and can then judge how viable the rest of the seeds are.
posted by Nematoda at 9:20 PM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've planted seeds up to 4 years old and had relatively good germination rates. EXCEPT for pansies. 1 year old and nada.
posted by Wilder at 10:05 AM on April 10, 2009

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