Date Check: Do Seeds Last Forever?
It’s a classic blind date story…in the garden. You find a packet of mystery seeds in the back of a drawer, unmarked, no expiration, and you think, I’ll plant these next year, no problem! Come summertime, you’re swooning over fresh juicy tomatoes atop margarita pizza. Way to be immortal, seeds, you think. Even people without a “thing” for planting might assume seeds last forever, thanks to news like this about the crazy-old date seed from 1 CE (AD) that was still viable two thousand-plus years later.
But while it can seem like seeds might grow anytime conditions are favorable (they just need decent dirt, water, and sun, right?)—most don’t stay viable indefinitely, unless they’re stored in super-special conditions, according to a bevvy of experts we consulted, from the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Morton Arboretum to Botanic Gardens Conservation International and the USDA-ARS’s National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation. (more…)