How to Store Seeds for Planting


Plant your own vegetable or flower garden from seeds. Seeds often provide you a greater choice of plant varieties for less cost than planting purchased seedlings. There is no need to throw away unused seeds or plant all the seeds in a packet right away--instead store the extra seeds for later use. Many seeds retain their viability for up to five years, according to Ohio State University Extension, as long as proper storage procedures are followed.

Step 1

Place 1/2 cup powdered milk in a cloth bag. Alternately, place the milk in the center of a square of cheesecloth. Gather the ends of the cheesecloth together, enclosing the milk inside, then secure the ends with a rubber band.

Step 2

Place the powdered milk packet into a glass jar. The milk acts as a desiccate, absorbing any excess moisture during seed storage so that the seeds remain viable.

Step 3

Tape the seed envelopes closed if the original envelope is still available. If not, place the seeds into a new envelope, and write the seed variety and planting instructions on the outside.

Step 4

Place the seed envelope in the jar. Screw the lid onto the jar tightly, then label the jar with the year the seeds were purchased.

Step 5

Store the jar in a dark, 40 degree Fahrenheit location. The refrigerator, an unheated garage or other cool place that doesn't drop below freezing is adequate.

Tips and Warnings

  • Moisture causes seeds to quickly lose viability. Check on the seeds in storage regularly, and replace the powdered milk if it begins to discolor or clump together.

Things You'll Need

  • Powdered milk
  • Cloth bag
  • Cheesecloth
  • Rubber band
  • Envelope
  • Jar


  • Ohio State University Extension: Plant Propagation
  • Oregon State University: Collecting and Storing Seeds from Your Garden
Keywords: storing leftover seeds, garden seed storage, seed saving

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.