How to Prevent Bird Seed From Germinating


Feeding wild birds provides hours of enjoyment to millions of Americans every year. According to the National Bird-Feeding Society, over 55 million Americans feed birds at their homes, making bird feeding the second most popular hobby enjoyed by Americans, surpassed only by gardening. For many Americans the two hobbies go hand-in-hand, as many gardeners erect bird feeders in or around their gardens. This poses the risk of rogue plants germinating and growing from birdseed scattered around the garden. Preventing germination of wild birdseed requires proper storage and cleanup techniques.

Step 1

Store birdseed in air-tight containers to prevent moisture from entering the seed. A small plastic garbage can with a tight-fitting lid makes a good storage bin for birdseed. Seed stored in open bins and buckets germinates quickly if exposed to moisture, ruining the seed.

Step 2

Pour or dip the appropriate amount of seed in a container to carry outside for filling feeders. A scoop and a bucket kept near the birdseed eliminates the temptation to carry the entire storage container outside and risking exposure to moisture.

Step 3

Measure the amount of seed required for filling feeders carefully to avoid left-over seed that must be restored. Pouring seed that has been exposed to moisture back into the bag introduces moisture and may initiate germination inside the bag.

Step 4

Clean the area around bird feeders each time you fill the feeder. Rake to remove shells and seeds that have fallen to the ground. Not only does it prevent seeds from germinating and growing in your garden or under your feeder, it prevents the spread of disease as well.

Step 5

Dispose of old seeds and residue away from the garden to prevent stray plants from sprouting and growing.

Things You'll Need

  • Airtight containers
  • Bucket
  • Scoop
  • Garden rake


  • National Bird-Feeding Society
  • Audubon: Feeder Maintenance & Hygiene
  • Virginia Cooperative Extension: Feeding Wild Birds

Who Can Help

  • Cornell: Project Feeder Watch
  • University of Maryland: Wildlife Tips
Keywords: prevent birdseed germination, storing birdseed, sprouting birdseed, prevent sprouting birdseed

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.