Seed Germination

Do you have old seed packets that didn’t make it into the garden the last few years? Before buying more seeds, check to see if your old seed packets are still good. Seed longevity varies by species even when stored in a cool, dry location. Pansy, Impatiens, lettuce, corn, and onion seeds can be short-lived and lose viability after one to two years. Some seeds may still germinate, but the germination rates will decline as well as healthy seedling vigor. Test the seeds to see if they will still germinate.
To test germination, place 10 seeds between a folded moist towel or two moist paper towels. Insert them into a plastic bag and place the bag in a warm, dark location. Check the seeds every other day for signs of germination within 7 to 10 days. If the germination rate is 70% or less, consider replacing the seed packet for the upcoming growing season. Some seeds require light to germinate. These seeds should be placed on top of a moist towel in a plastic bag in a bight location. Read the seed packet instructions to determine if any light is required.
If packet directions say “do not cover seeds”, then you know to place the seeds in light.
A good growing season starts with good quality seeds. If you have more seeds than you need, consider swapping them with friends and neighbors, or consider donating them to a local school.
For more information on seeds, please visit the Home and Garden Information Center website at Tune in on Tuesday nights to watch “Making it Grow” at 7 p.m. on SCETV or E-mail Outen at

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