The viability of seeds greatly depends on storage conditions. In general, seeds that are stored in cool, dry conditions over the winter maintain viability the longest. Seeds that are stored well can be used the following spring in Calgary with your seasonal lawn maintenance.
Keep reading for more information about seed viability, how to store your seeds over the winter, and how to know if your seeds are still viable.
Where to store your seeds over the winter
Often, homeowners will store their seeds in a garage or a shed without knowing that this can expose seeds to excess humidity or freezing temperatures. Seed viability relies on a few different factors, including:
- Temperature – The ideal temperature for most seeds are above freezing but under 15 degrees Celsius. In Calgary, where we experience cold winters and hot summers, a garage or shed may not allow seeds to hold its viability for very long. Typically, a basement or any cool, dry area in your home is the ideal storage place for seeds.
- Moisture – Too much moisture negatively affects seed viability. Always store your seeds in an air-tight container or plastic bag so that it cannot absorb moisture. In general, the cooler and dryer the storage area are, the longer your seeds will remain viable.
- Humidity – Seed viability declines rapidly when exposed to humid climates, further highlighting the importance of storing seeds in an area that is cool and dry.
How to know if your seeds are still viable
When seeds aren’t stored properly, they will fail to germinate when your turf is ready for spring lawn care services. Some seeds can last for several years, while others have a short life. When properly stored, the seed’s shelf life can be extended. Come springtime, you can do a couple of tests to check if your seeds are still viable.
The water test
Put your seed in a container of water and let sit for 15 minutes. If the seeds are viable, they will sink. Seeds that float will likely not sprout.
The germination test
We recommend waiting to do this test closer to the time of planting, so any seeds that sprout can be placed into your garden immediately. To do the germination test:
- Take your seeds and place them in a row on top of a damp paper towel.
- Fold the paper towel and seal it in a zip-up plastic bag.
- Place this plastic bag in a warm location away from direct sunlight, ideally on top of the refrigerator.
- Check once a day and carefully mist the paper towel with water if it requires more moisture, being careful not to overwater.
Your seeds should sprout in a few days, depending on the specific germination time of your seed species.
How long does grass seed viability last?
Grass seeds last between 10-18 months from the testing date when stored under ideal conditions. Keep in mind that every seed is different, and results vary. With proper lawn care services and seasonal maintenance in Calgary, your grass seeds can sprout and help your garden thrive.