Seed Germination Duration Periods

Seed Germination Duration Periods

Buy small quantities at a time so that you do not have to store them. Seeds should be kept cool and dry to ensure proper germination at planting time.

Germination duration is the time that a seed will retain its ability to germinate.

The germination duration is very variable. Depending on the species, the germination rate decreases more or less rapidly over the years: some seeds still germinate reasonably well after five or six years, but others no longer germinate after only two years. In the case of poor seed storage, the germination period can be greatly reduced or even eliminated.
To help you, here are summary tables to know the shelf life and germination time of seeds of the main cultivated vegetable and ornamental species.

Vegetable Seeds

Printable version

Herb Seeds

Printable version

Annual Seeds

Printable version

These tables remain indicators
Note :  the longer you keep your seeds, the more you reduce the chances of germination. The older a seed gets, the longer it will take to germinate. In addition, old seeds often have a random germination and give more fragile plants.

Perennial Seeds

For perennials and Marie-Victorin seeds. In order to have a longer life span, you can store unused seeds in the freezer, as long as they are perfectly dry and always hermetically sealed in a glass jar.


After seeding, put any excess seed back into its packet, fold over the edge two or three times and seal with tape. You can estimate that, in general, seeds of all kinds of annuals will be good for three (3) years.
Of course, they must be kept in good conditions (protected from air, light, moisture, etc.). Metal cans are very good for storing opened seed packets. On the other hand, they should not be put in balsa wood or other agglomerated boxes, because they are treated and that can strongly decrease the germinating capacity of the seeds.
Ideally, seeds are stored in airtight containers in a cool, dark, dry place. The closet of a lightly heated room would be ideal. The perfect temperature is between 4 and 12°C. Avoid places with high humidity. If you store seeds in the basement, place them on the top shelves, as it is always more humid near the floor than the ceiling.

Tip: Place the packet in a glass jar. Place a silica packet or prepare a small pouch of skim milk powder with the corner of an envelope and place it in the jar as well, then seal the jar. The powdered milk has the ability to absorb any excess moisture that could shorten the life of your seeds. Replace the powdered milk or the silica packet once a year. Finally, put the jar in the refrigerator or in a cupboard.   An easy to make and efficient conservation tip.

Where to store a silica packet? They are usually found in shoe boxes or in the packaging of electronic devices.

 How to carry out a germination test?

 The best way to confirm if seeds are still alive is to perform a small germination test.
The procedure is very simple, you will need

  • paper towels or cotton pads;
  • a spray bottle with water;
  • seeds;
  • a room with light and heat.

Start by saturating the paper towels or cotton pads with water (without soaking). Place them on a dish or any other flat container and place your seeds, making sure to note their names. Cover with a second sheet of paper towels.
To get an idea of the viability of your seeds, test at least 6 different seeds, this way you will be able to conclude.

  • If 6 seeds on 6 germinate = perfect, the seeds are viable.
  • If 3 seeds on 6 germinate = germination rate is 50 %.  You will have to sow twice to obtain the desired number of plants for the season.
  • If fewer than 3 seeds on 6 germinate, it is advised to buy seeds.