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Seed Storage Ideas for the Home Gardener

I’m a seed-aholic… there I admitted it. I’m guessing if you’re reading this, you have an ample amount of seeds too and you need some ideas for storing them. Every year I purchase way more seeds than I can ever use. It’s the dead of winter when those gorgeous seed catalogs start arriving and I just totally get sucked in. Plus, I love collecting seeds from the flowers in my garden.

In order to preserve my investment in seeds over the years, I’ve done a little digging (no pun intended) to find the best ways to preserve and store seeds. Wow, you have to be a science geek to understand three-fourths of the information that is out there. So if you’re not a horticulturist or biologist, but just a home gardener that wants to know how to preserve and store your seeds, this is the article for you.

 

Seed Packets

If you’re up for an amazing DIY Seed Storage Idea, be sure to read all the way to the bottom of this post. 

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What is the Best Way to Store Seeds

Seeds need to be stored in a cool, dry place and away from sun light. Find a dark closet or space in the coolest room in your house. For me, that’s our bedroom closet on the north side of the house. I don’t recommend storing garden seeds in an out building like a garden shed or even a garage, because the temperatures fluctuate too much and they can be eaten by critters.

Do seeds need to be stored in the freezer or refrigerator? No, they don’t. I see this all the time on gardening forums… seed vaults store seeds at freezing temperatures, so seeds should be stored in the freezer. Yes, but seed vaults are highly regulated and they aren’t at all like a home freezer or refrigerator that is opened and closed umpteen times a day. 

If you collect seeds from plants in your garden, be sure they are 100% dry before you store them. Seeds from various seed companies should be fine left in their original packets, as long as they are dry. If seeds are the least bit damp when they are stored, they will grow mold and that’s just not pretty; plus, they won’t germinate. So, no point in saving seeds if they aren’t going to be any good.

We’ll cover various seed storage containers below. Here’s a great tip:  Silica gel packets (those little packets that come in pill bottles and other stuff) work really well to help with moisture control. I just toss a few in my seed storage box and change them out every so often.

How Long Can Seeds Be Stored

Lots of gardeners ask this question, so I want to do my best to answer it. So how long can seeds be stored? Well, no one really knows. Some sources say 2 years max, some say 12 months and well, the answers are all over the place. I’ve had seeds that were 4 years old and they germinated just fine. I’ve had seeds that were 3 years old and they didn’t germinate at all. So see, there’s just no way to tell.

You can do the seed germination test where you place the seeds in a damp napkin and see if they germinate. But, you know what, I don’t even do that. I just plant them. As a general rule of thumb, if seeds are old, plant more than you would if the seeds are packaged for the current year. If they germinate, great! If not, you have absolutely nothing to lose except some old seeds and soil. Just dump the failed experiment in your compost and start over. Like I always say, experimentation is a huge part of learning how to garden.

I’m sure you can find some long article with all the boring scientific facts (or bs) on the web about how long seeds can be stored, but why bother. Really, just plant them and see what happens. 

Seed Packet Storage Ideas

I used to store my seed packets in a plastic shoe box and that worked okay, but then I received this seed box for my birthday and I switched all my seed packets to it. I’m pleasantly surprised at how many seed packets it holds. It has 3 wood dividers inside so the seed packets don’t fall over if you don’t have enough to fill the box. I have my seeds divided by perennial flower seeds, annual flower seeds and vegetable seeds. Then I alphabetize them in each section. All organized and easy to find. Just looking at this seed box and all my seeds kicks my happy endorphins in.

Seed Storage Box with Seed Packets

Photo storage boxes work really well for seed packet storage, especially if you have lots and lots of seed packets, even more than me. They come in both small and large sizes. The little box compartments make them great for sorting and organizing seed packets.

DIY Seed Storage Ring Binder

Using a ring binder with photo album sleeves is another great way to store your seed packets. They are easily visible and accessible. Seed packets can be organized by flowers and vegetables, alphabetically or really any way that works for you.

Another way you can organize the seeds is to divide them by when they need to be started indoors. For example; I sort my seeds by seeds that need to be started 10-12 weeks before the last frost date, 8-10 weeks before the last frost date, 6-8 weeks before the last frost date, etc. etc.  The beauty of this system is that you can make it your own. 

Your seed storage ring binder is the perfect place to keep garden seed catalogs. Be sure to print off some of the seed inventory sheets from the Garden Resources Library to keep in your seed storage ring binder. There’s more information about that below.

Image of a Seed Storage Ring Binder

Oh hey, while we are talking about seed packet storage ideas, there’s a really cute printable in the Gingham Gardens Resources Library that includes 2 seed packets to an 8.5×11 sheet of paper with the instructions for putting it together. They work really well for seeds you’ve collected from your gardens.

There’s also a Seed Inventory page in the Gardening  Resources Library that you can print. I created this with seed collectors (me) in mind. I tend to purchase the same seeds over and over, so I put together this handy seed inventory sheet, to help me not do that. Keep a copy with your seeds and one in your garden journal. Then when you’re ordering seeds, you can refer back to it so you don’t end up with multiples. Another idea is to snap a picture of the list, so you have it when you’re shopping.

Image of seed packets and seed inventory sheet

You can gain access to the printable seed packets and all the other awesome gardening printables in the Gingham Gardens Resources Library by completing the newsletter subscription form below.

Seed Storage Container Ideas

We’ve covered some great ways to store seed packets, but what if you’ve gone crazy collecting seeds from your garden or you participate in seed exchanges. We’ve got some great seed storage container ideas for you too.

You can use upcycled items for seed storage, like pill bottles, tic tac mint containers, small jars, small bead containers or plastic zipper bags. If you don’t have those, check out these ideas:

This Bead Storage Set would be awesome for storing garden seeds.


 Here’s another craft or bead storage set that would work wonderfully for storing seeds.

Remember if you decide to use clear or transparent storage containers, keep those containers in a cool, dark space in your home.

DIY Seed Storage Chest

A Gingham Gardens’ reader, Joeleen from Tennessee, sent me pictures of her upcycled seed storage chest. Every since she shared it with me, I’ve been dying to share it with you all. Below is the before.

Image of an old chest

First, Joeleen painted the chest a beautiful turquoise blue. She then used flower transfers similar to these.  For the words, she used random stencils from her craft stash and pieced the words to fill in the space. She used an oil sharpie paint pen to fill in the stencils. The finished product is amazing! You can find Joeleen on Instagram (@ducks.and.daisies)

Image of a DIY Seed Storage Chest

Here is the inside of one of the drawers. Joeleen’s husband cut dividers to fit the drawer perfectly.

seed storage chest

Now that you’ve collected seeds and learned how to store them, what about trying Winter Sowing or Seed Starting Indoors. Gingham Gardens has tons of practical tips and tricks for gardeners at any level. Hang out in the gardens for awhile and see  what you can find.

I’m so happy you stopped by Gingham Gardens today! I hope you enjoyed these ideas for seed storage. Do you have a different idea you’d like to share? If so, please leave a comment and share your idea with us. Thanks a bunch for stopping by and come back soon!

Happy gardening,

Joanna

p.s. Feel free to share the pins below on Pinterest. 

p.p.s I’d love to have you follow me on Pinterest. Lots of great gardening ideas and tons of flower garden eye candy for you. Gingham Gardens is also on Facebook. Stop by and say hello!

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4 Comments

  1. Hi.. Enjoyed the reading. I was wondering about storage of mango seeds. I have several from store bought mangos. Currently they are wrapped in plastic in my refrigerator. The idea is that we would like to save these seeds for a couple of years before planting. Any tips on their storage? Thank you.

    1. Hi Robert – thanks for stopping by Gingham Gardens. I’m sorry I don’t have any advice on storing mango seeds. I suggest just experimenting. Try a few different ways – maybe store a few in the fridge and maybe store a few in a cool, dark and dry space in your home. Good luck and happy gardening, Joanna

    1. Hi Colleen – I’m glad you enjoyed the garden seed storage ideas. Thank you for stopping by Gingham Gardens! Happy gardening, Joanna

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