How long can seeds stay viable?

Discussion in 'Trees, Shrubs and Roses' started by Catdaddy6676, Sep 2, 2019.

  1. Catdaddy6676

    Catdaddy6676 In Flower

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    I just located a package that I forgot that I had ordered some 12 years ago. Its full of meticulously packaged tree/shrub seeds such as beauty bush, Japanese spice bush, and (most interestingly) 4 varieties of Acer Palmatum (Japanese Maple) trees.

    They have all been sealed in small ziplock bags which were placed in manilla envelopes. No air has touched the seeds in that entire time.

    Are these seeds viable? I have read the instructions on proper germination procedures and will try a few seeds of each variety to assess their overall health. Just thought I'd ask you experienced members with knowledge of these things.

    Thanks for reading!
     
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  3. marlingardener

    marlingardener Strong Ash

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    Twelve years is quite a while for seeds to stay viable, but properly packaged and in the dark, you probably have a good chance of some germination. This is a very interesting experiment, and please let us know how it turns out.
     
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  4. Jewell

    Jewell Incorrigible Gardener Plants Contributor

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    I’d definitely give it a try. Planted scarlet runner and sunset bean seeds six or seven years old this spring and they have produced exceptionally. My seeds were simply in a mason jar so I didn’t expect much. Seeds are amazing and you may have preserved yours well enough they didn’t know that they have had such a long nap.
     
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  5. Cayuga Morning

    Cayuga Morning Hardy Maple Plants Contributor

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    Certainly worth a try Cat. Let us know how it goes.
     
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  6. Catdaddy6676

    Catdaddy6676 In Flower

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    Put 8 seeds each of 'Waterfall' and 'Suminagashi' cultivars in dirt, about one quarter inch deep (per package instructions) last night. Hope this works!
     
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  7. Odif

    Odif In Flower

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    A trick is to put old seeds in the freezer for a couple of days and then plant them afterwards
    Potato seeds can hold their germinating power for 50 years. .
     
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  8. Cayuga Morning

    Cayuga Morning Hardy Maple Plants Contributor

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    @Odif what is the thinking behind that?
     
  9. Odif

    Odif In Flower

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    @Cayuga Morning, I think the reasoning is that seeds that are at the end of their germinative power will think they have passed a winter and then they will think it is spring and so they will germinate better. I let them defrost for a day or two and then plant.
     
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  10. Catdaddy6676

    Catdaddy6676 In Flower

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    Yes, most plants have dropped all seeds by the end of their reproductive cycle and the conditions tend to worsen as winter approaches. The plant has a built in hibernation mode so that they don't die trying to grow in harsh conditions. They may need a "wintering" to do the job of growing a mature plant again, which can be as easy as a couple of days of cold conditions (the fridge) or up to a month. This is natural and helps improve germination.
     
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  11. Cayuga Morning

    Cayuga Morning Hardy Maple Plants Contributor

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    Thanks @Odif & @Catdaddy6676! That is good to know. I am also amazed that potato seeds will last 50 years!!
     
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  12. Islandlife

    Islandlife Young Pine

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    Worth a try. I think some seeds have a very short shelf life so to speak but you have nothing to lose by trying 'em!
     
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