Storing Your Seeds For the Long-Term…in the Freezer

Posted on Jan 18 2012 - 1:10am by Mike Lieberman

The strangest posts wind up causing some controversy.

It doesn’t make sense to me.

When I wrote about why having an emergency seed bank is important, I didn’t quite get the reaction that I’d expect.

I received emails, Facebook comments and Tweets saying that I couldn’t be more wrong about storing the seeds and that freezing them was a horrible idea.

I’ll admit that I have never frozen seeds before and then used them. It is a recommendation that I’ve seen countless time before.

So I did a bit of research and here’s some excerpts from sites:

Last year we planted a variety of different seeds that we had put in the freezer over 10 years ago and forgotten about and they came up just fine. They were just in ziplock bags. — via Survivalist Boards

Seeds dried to a low moisture content with silica gel and then stored in a freezer can usually retain viability for many years. — via HowToSaveSeeds.com

Freezing seeds will put the embryo into suspended animation reducing its need to consume the sugars that are encased in the seed. This increases it’s storage life immensely… — via Ready Nutrition

Takeaways for Storing Your Seeds in the Freezer

The main takeaways that I got in my research were the following:

  • Make sure the seeds are dry when placed in the freezer. Using a silica gel pack can help with this.
  • Put the seeds in an airtight container. This can be a mason jar or even a ziplock bag. Vacuum sealing works well too.
  • Allow the seeds to thaw before planting. These are for long-term storage, but good to keep this tip in mind.

How do you store your seeds for the short or long-term?

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5 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Kaveh January 19, 2012 at 9:49 am -

    In the future I would like to get a small fridge just for storing seeds as I feel like that is the best option (don’t want to store them in my regular fridge for fear of ethylene gas from fruits possibly damaging them) but for the past two years I have been storing some seed in the freezer and recently sowed a bunch of them.  I’ll let you know how they do.  So far Gillia tricolor stored in the freezer for two years was very quick to germinate. Even faster than some new fresh seed I ordered. 

    You have to know your seed.  I wouldn’t store tropical seed in a freezer. 

  2. Mike Lieberman January 19, 2012 at 1:06 pm -

    Word. Keep me updated.

  3. Sabina April 12, 2013 at 8:54 pm -

    Thanks now I know I can put the seeds in the freezer. Just got a whole new bunch dried.

  4. Piseen Francis October 25, 2016 at 3:32 pm -

    Hi Mike,
    Thank you for educating people about refridgerator storage, its not all black and white but often seeds do freeze naturally outside and the conditions are what they are used to! There is a lot of information about the Svalbard Global Seed Vault that is used for longterm sotrage of the world’s seed crops and they reason that sometimes a poorly functioning freezer can ruin seeds. Your takeaway points definitely are the main culprits for preventing lost seed in a freezer.
    Sincerely, PiSeen

  5. Ed June 8, 2018 at 8:58 am -

    I pulled some corn and green bean seeds I’ve had frozen for 2 years. They both germinated fine. They are now in the garden and growing great.

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