Whether you are a cannabis fan who has just begun growing a couple of plants recreationally, or you are looking to test your green thumb for the first time, there is one question that’s going to come up at some point. Do seeds go bad? Let's find out! How long do cannabis seeds remain viable? Marijuana seeds should be kept in a cool, dark place such as a basement or in your refrigerator. They should be in an air-tight container and must stay If you have some extra cannabis seeds lying around, you're probably wondering how long you can expect them to last.
Do Cannabis Seeds Go Bad?
M any pot fans are starting to look into growing their own supply. After all, how hard can it be? Nature does it all the time, and it doesn’t even have any grow light options other than the sun. While you may not be producing showroom quality nugs, there’s a pride that comes with tending to your own garden and snipping buds straight off the branch. Plus, you can’t beat the price.
Plenty of online stores sell seeds so it’s pretty easy to pick your favorite strains to start. However, if it’s been a while since your seeds arrived and they’re not yet planted, you can forgive yourself for wondering if maybe you’ve waited too long. After all, how long do marijuana seeds last? Whether you are a cannabis fan who has just begun growing a couple of plants recreationally, or you are looking to test your green thumb for the first time, there is one question that’s going to come up at some point.
Do Marijuana Seeds Go Bad?
First off, marijuana seeds are the same as many other plant’s seeds. A waxy outer shell called the seed coat protects the embryonic shoot, stem, and root contained within, which are nourished by a nutrient-rich oil surrounding them. As long as the shell remains intact and the plant inside doesn’t dry out or get damaged, your seed can still grow into a cannabis plant.
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However, this shell will not last forever. Once it dries out and hardens the seed coat can crack and expose the embryonic plant to damage. Or the seed coat hardens to the point that it no longer lets in moisture. In both cases, the seed is no longer viable.
Of course, there is some debate in the cannabis community over how long do marijuana seeds last. Some growers claim that when stored in the ideal conditions, marijuana seeds can last anywhere from six months to a year after packing and still spout once placed in the soil. Other producers believe that marijuana seeds can last up to a decade if properly refrigerated in the right containers.
Most seed producers agree that on average three to six years is a maximum for viability, and every day that the seed is stored drops the chances of it germinating just a little bit.
So how long do marijuana seeds last? In general, six months is the maximum if you’re looking for a nearly 100% germination rate. After three years, you’re looking at a germination rate of around 50%.
What constitutes “ideal conditions” for cannabis seed storage also depends on the genetics of that particular plant. Some cannabis strains produce a much hardier, longer-lasting marijuana seed that can last for years and still stretch their leaves once planted. Others produce seeds that need to quickly return to the soil.
How Marijuana Seeds Are Stored
In terms of long term storage for your marijuana seeds, there are four main factors to consider:
When it comes to how long marijuana seeds last, temperature is the main factor. In nature, heat tells the seed that winter’s over and it’s time to start sprouting. If your marijuana seed’s not in the soil, this means that the plant matter inside the marijuana seed will begin to germinate and then rot.
41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) is the absolute warmest you want your storage spot to be, with the sweet spot being somewhere around 38 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you are refrigerating your marijuana seeds, they’ll last the longest in a separate unit or a spot near the back. Every time you open your fridge you are changing the temperature which can harm the seeds over time.
Humidity is also your enemy when it comes to how long your marijuana seeds will last. When a seed gets wet, it cracks open to allow the sprout and root out. This will let in rot if the seed isn’t planted. A humidity level of about 5% is the maximum you want to allow.
Much like heat and humidity, light tells that seed to wake up because it’s time to spring forth.
In order to keep your seeds from going bad, it’s best to keep them stored in a dark container in order to avoid light. photo credit
By keeping your seeds in a dark or opaque container, they’ll keep dozing long term. Light can also damage the surface of the marijuana seed, which in turn will damage what’s stored underneath, causing your marijuana seed to go bad.
Besides being dark, for your marijuana seeds to last long term, you want to expose them to as little oxygen and carbon dioxide as possible. These gasses are what growing plants breathe, as well as the pests that consume them. If you’re refrigerating or freezing your marijuana seeds, make sure your container is as airtight as possible. If you can vacuum seal them, even better.
Alternatively, if you’re planning on planting in the next few months, regular mailing envelopes will do in a pinch. They’ll keep the marijuana seeds out of the light and dry, so all you have to do is store them in a cool place. Plus, envelopes make it easy to label your strains so that you can keep them separate.
How To Tell If Your Marijuana Seeds Are Still Healthy?
What should you do if you find some old seeds and have no idea how long they were stored? Maybe past you put them in a freezer bag in the hopes of keeping your favorite strain alive, or found a couple at the bottom of a baggie that the trimmer missed.
How do you know if your marijuana seed has gone bad, or if it’s healthy and viable to grow into a plant? There are four easy ways to check if your marijuana seed is still good.
If your seeds are dark brown, black, or gray, that’s a very good sign. The shell is intact and uncompromised, which means the genetic material inside has been kept safe.
Seeds should have a dark color. If seeds are still green they are probably not ready yet. photo credit
Viable seeds should also have stripes or spots all the way around. If the seeds are white or green, they’re most likely still immature.
Check if the seed still has a waxy coating. A healthy seed should have a slight sheen to it, as though it’s been oiled. This means the seed still can retain moisture.
If the seed is still healthy, you should be able to lightly squeeze it without it crunching between your fingers. If the shell has no give and splits or splinters under light pressure, then your marijuana seed has gone bad and has no chance in the soil.
Cracks or Holes
If there are any cracks or holes anywhere on the shell, your marijuana seed’s likely gone bad and will most likely not sprout. Bacteria and other harmful lifeforms can find their way into the seed, or it will dry out.
The True Test of a Cannabis Seed
Of course, the best way to test whether your seeds will sprout is to plant them and see. If some green shoots climb their way out of the soil after a couple of days or weeks, you’ve got your answer.
Storing marijuana seeds is a great way to make sure you always have your favorite strains on hand, as well as to keep yourself stocked up on plants for the long haul. Luckily, marijuana seeds can last for years as long as you make sure your seeds are cool, dry, airtight, and out of sight. There’s no better time than now to learn a new skill, so let’s see how green your thumb can get.
How Do You Tell If a Seed is Good or Bad?
If the seed is dark with stripes or spots all the way around, has a waxy shell that doesn’t crack when you give it a light squeeze, and doesn’t have any visible cracks or holes, it’s probably still good. If there are holes in the shell, it’s dry, or especially pale, your marijuana seed’s probably gone bad.
Do Autoflower Seeds Go Bad?
All marijuana seeds can go bad, including autoflower seeds. However, by keeping your seeds at a stable 38 degrees Fahrenheit and at around 5% humidity, as well as airtight and out of the light, your seeds may last up to 5 years or more.
How do you like to store your seeds? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Paul Barach is a Seattle-based freelance writer, editor, and author with experience creating well-researched, edited web articles covering cannabis news, culture, history and science. Paul is a regular contributor to PotGuide and has also contributed to publications such as Medium.com, SlabMechanix, Litro, and The Trek. He prefers to spend his free time outdoors and most recently hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. So far he has only fallen into the La Brea Tarpits once. You can follow him on Instagram @BarachOutdoors and stay up to date professionally through his LinkedIn page.
How long do cannabis seeds remain viable?
Marijuana seeds should be kept in a cool, dark place such as a basement or in your refrigerator. They should be in an air-tight container and must stay dry. Putting a cotton ball in with the seeds before storage can help suck up any extra moisture (this is why you often see little bits of cotton in seed breeder packs).
Heat and moisture ‘signal’ to cannabis seeds that it’s time to sprout, so as long as you keep the seeds in a dry, dark environment they can remain viable for years. I have heard cases of seeds sprouting after being in storage for 5 or even 10 years. However, you will notice that older seeds take longer to germinate than fresh seeds and a few of them may not sprout at all. As time goes on, fewer and fewer of the seeds will successfully germinate.
How Long Do Marijuana Seeds Last? (Explained)
If you have some extra cannabis seeds lying around, you’re probably wondering how long you can expect them to last.
The germination rate of Marijuana seeds naturally declines over time. However, if stored correctly, your seeds can last for up to 5 years. However, to last that long, they need to be good quality and be stored in a cool, dry, and dark place.
Read on to find out how to store your seeds correctly to make them last longer.
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How Long Do Marijuana Seeds Last?
Cannabis seeds can last for a very long time if they are stored in the correct conditions. The ideal storage temperature for cannabis seeds is between 7-10°C (45-50°F), with a humidity level of around 55%. Under these conditions, your cannabis seeds should last for many years.
However, it is worth noting that the shelf life of cannabis seeds will decrease if they are exposed to light, heat, or excessive moisture. Therefore, it is important to store your seeds in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
If you are planning on germinating your seeds at some point in the future, it is worth testing a few to check their viability first. The best way to do this is to place the seeds in a cup of water overnight. After 24 hours, check to see if any of the seeds have sunk to the bottom of the cup. If they have, this indicates that they are still viable and should germinate successfully.
How To Tell If Your Cannabis Seeds Are Still Good
Many growers have experienced the frustration of planting cannabis seeds, only to have them fail to germinate. If you’re wondering whether your stored cannabis Seeds are still good, there are a few things you can do to test them. One simple way is to do the float test: Take a glass of distilled water and drop it in your seed. If it sinks, it’s probably still good. If it floats, it’s not going to live.
Also, give the seed a light squeeze between your fingers. Healthy cannabis seeds should be firm, with a dark brown or black coloration. If they’re pale or green, they’re not going to sprout. If they’re hard and brittle, they might be too old.
The best way to tell if your seeds are still good is to try germinating them. Plant two or three seeds in moistened soil, and wait a week or two to see if anything happens. This method isn’t foolproof (sometimes seeds just don’t want to germinate), but it’s the most reliable way to tell if your precious cannabis seeds are still alive and viable.
Will Cracked Marijuana Seeds Still Germinate?
The simple answer is yes. However, it is worth noting that the germination rate for cracked seeds is often lower than for intact seeds. In addition, the process of germinating a cracked seed can be more difficult and time-consuming. When a seed is cracked, the protective outer coat is damaged, exposing the delicate inner tissue to the elements. This makes it more susceptible to infection and less able to absorb moisture. As a result, it can take longer for a cracked seed to germinate, and the plant that emerges may be weaker than one grown from a healthy seed. Despite these challenges, it is still possible to successfully grow a plant from a cracked marijuana seed. With patience and care, you can end up with a bountiful harvest of high-quality buds.
How To Make Your Marijuana Seeds Last Longer?
Let’s take a look at some of the main ways you can make your marijuana seeds last longer.
1. Store Them Properly
You can prolong the shelf life of your marijuana seeds by storing them properly. Keep them in a cool, dark place, like a pantry or cupboard. You can also store them in the fridge, but make sure they’re in an airtight container so they don’t dry out.
If you live in a humid climate, it’s a good idea to store your seeds in the fridge or freezer to prevent them from going bad.
If you have a lot of seeds, you can also store them in a Mason jar or vacuum-sealed bag. Just make sure to label the container with the date so you know when they were stored.
A Ziplock bag works well when you want to store seeds for a short duration of around 5-6 months. Any longer than that and your seeds may start to go bad.
Put your seeds into your bag, try to remove as much air as possible and then seal it tightly. Then keep your bag in a cool and dark place.
A step further than a regular Ziplock bag, a vacuum-sealed bag will ensure that there is no air left inside your bag.
This will allow you to store your seeds for a longer period.
You will still need to ensure to keep it in a cool, dark environment.
Some seed banks deliver seeds in a vacuum-sealed package that can store them until they’re ready for planting.
Another great method for long term storage is keeping your seeds in an airtight container.
Glass containers are preferable as they are more resistant to heat and UV ray damage.
Just make sure to keep them away from light.
If you are looking to store your seeds for over a year, you can refrigerate them.
Refrigerators offer constant low temperatures and dark and moisture-free environment.
Keep your seeds at the back of your fridge so that they are away from any potential moisture or temperature changes from opening it often.
Make sure the container or bag your seeds are in is airtight and heatproof.
You will also want to make sure that your fridge is “no-frost” or has a no-frost area to shield seeds from frost damage.
Freezing marijuana seeds is a debated method.
Freezing is used by some to store their seeds for years on end.
Others say that it ends up killing seeds instead of protecting them.
Some growers even believe that freezing seeds can damage their internal cells.
Using special laboratories and equipment can allow for the careful freezing of seeds, but this is not a very cheap or accessible option for many.
Now that we have covered everything there is to know about how long marijuana seeds last and how to store them, you are all ready to begin your growing adventure. We’ve made sure to cover all our bases- from basic seed facts to how to choose the best seed bank.
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Hey, I’m James! The founder and head writer here at GreenBudGuru.com. I started this site to share my passion and knowledge of all things cannabis. I used to work as a budtender in central Amsterdam, and have over 7 years of growing experience.
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Hi, I’m James, the founder of GreenBudGuru. I started this site in 2018 to help new cannabis growers avoid the common mistakes that I made as a beginner with easy-to-follow guides. GBG is now read and trusted by over 100,000 people each month.