How Long Do Cannabis Seeds Last

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If you are a regular weed user and live in a US state where it is legal, chances are you have already tried your hand at growing your weed. If you haven’t tried it yet, well, there is a lot to learn. Growing cannabis is tricky even for experienced growers. It all starts with the cannabis seed. If the seed you plant is 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 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 Last In Storage?

If you are a regular weed user and live in a US state where it is legal, chances are you have already tried your hand at growing your weed. If you haven’t tried it yet, well, there is a lot to learn.

Growing cannabis is tricky even for experienced growers. It all starts with the cannabis seed. If the seed you plant is no good, then you won’t get a plant at all. If you plant a seed of poor quality, then your plant will likely be of poor quality too.

If you want your cannabis plants to be healthy and potent, then the seeds your start with need to be healthy and from a good strain of cannabis.

Some people that grow their cannabis prefer to purchase their seed online, while other growers prefer to save and store seeds from their plants. How cannabis seeds are stored for later use is of the utmost importance.

How Can I Tell If Cannabis Seeds Are Good?

If you are going to go to the trouble of storing cannabis seed long-term, then you want to make sure you are storing only good seeds. After all, what would be the point in storing bad seeds? Most of the time you can tell a good quality of a cannabis seed by the way it looks.

Healthy cannabis seeds will have darker shades of gray and black on the outer shell. These darker colors can also signify genetically superior seeds.

Healthy seeds should also be firm to the touch and have a glossy and wax-like look to the shell. If you roll the seed between your thumb and index finger and it feels firm, then it should be a good seed to plant and should store well in the right conditions.

Effects Of Humidity On Cannabis Seeds

How you store your cannabis seeds works in much the same way as when you store your cannabis. Humidity can play a huge factor in how well your seeds stay preserved and for how long. In fact, humidity plays a major role in the entire lifecycle of the cannabis plant, from seed to storage of the finished flower, and ending in consumption. We even have a guide to rehydrate your cannabis if you fail to keep it moist enough and even have information on freezing your cannabis, which can cause mold issues quickly. But I digress.

Too much humidity can cause seeds to become soft and mushy or germinate. If there is no humidity at all, they can become dry and brittle and crack open.

Cannabis seeds store ideally at 20% to 30% humidity. If the humidity level is higher at 40% to 60% humidity, they will likely germinate. At 80% to 100% humidity, they will drown and wilt in as little as 12 hours.

If the humidity level falls below 20%, the seed may heat up and sweat, develop fungi on the outside as well as the inside. At the lowest humidity level of 10% or less, the seeds can attract insects or pests.

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Best Storage Methods For Cannabis Seeds

Keeping your cannabis seeds cool and dry at a consistent temperature and humidity level is essential. First, you need to pick your storage container. It should be air-tight and keep out UV light if possible.

It can be a glass container with a sealing lid. Ziplock baggies are alright to store seeds in if you do your best to remove as much air as possible.

Storing your seeds in a cupboard or closet shelf is fine for short-term storage. Never store your seeds outside in a garage or shed because the constant temperature changes of day temps and cooler night temps will not be good for them.

For more long-term storage, you can always refrigerate your seeds. The refrigerator will keep the seeds at a cool, constant temperature.

Refrigeration can preserve your seeds for several years or more, but it is probably best to use them before this amount of time goes by. Freezing your seeds is possible, but necessary.

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.

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.

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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

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.

Light

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.

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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.

Dark Color

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.

Waxy Coating

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.

Hard Shell

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!

Author

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.

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