PHOTO: Sunflower seed sprouts.

Check This Chart Before You Start Your Seeds

Attention, fellow seed savers: as the weather warms up, it’s time to pull out all those amazing seeds you’ve been saving and start growing transplants indoors.

My “aha!” moment at the Garden’s annual Seed Swap happened when I stopped by at horticulturist Lisa Hilgenberg’s seed-starting table, and picked up a copy of her Seed Viability Chart. It’s not only a useful tool about the average “shelf life”—or viability—of veggie seeds, but also an eye-opening reminder to check the dates on seed packs before I start growing this spring. Some seeds last longer than others!

Click here to download a PDF of the chart. (Proper seed storage conditions are in a cool and dark place where temperature and moisture content will stay relatively stable.)

Ready to start sowing? We’ve got lots of good tips and info about how to start seeds on our blog and website:

©2016 Chicago Botanic Garden and

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Karen Z.

Karen Zaworski is a writer who likes to use as few words as possible, a photographer who still works with black-and-white film and a darkroom, and a gardener who actually likes to weed.

2 thoughts on “Check This Chart Before You Start Your Seeds”

  1. Very helpful chart. It’s good to know how long different seeds last, also because my own seeds are heirloom and although I’m trying to renew them, there are some very old seeds in my box. Thank you for sharing and happy gardening!

    1. Agreed! Even though I’ve been growing veggies for years, the chart was a reminder that you learn something new every day, every season that you garden. Happy gardening, indeed!

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