Do Marijuana Seeds Go Bad? (Plus how To Prevent It)
Maybe you’ve tried germinating some old cannabis seeds, but nothing happened.
Or you’ve been storing some seeds for a while and are thinking of planting them, but don’t want to waste your time, if they are no longer viable.
Either way, this has left you wondering if marijuana seeds go bad.
We’ll answer that question below. We’ll also give you tips to keep seeds from going bad and to maximize your chances of successful germination.
Do Marijuana Seeds Go Bad?
Yes, cannabis seeds go bad, just like any other seed. Or any other organic matter, period.
However, weed seeds can last for a very long time. In fact, they can be viable for over 5 years, if you store them properly. Even if you just keep them in a drawer or something, they can last for a year or two. “Last” or “viable here means that they still have close to a 100% chance of germinating successfully.
Basically the better you treat them, the longer they stay viable, meaning they are likely to germinate. If they are not kept in good conditions, the chances of successful germination drop.
Let’s take a closer look at exactly why seeds can go bad. Then we’ll look at the primary factors that lead to a seed going bad and follow that with some tips to help you prevent this from happening.
Why Do Cannabis Seeds Go Bad?
Marijuana seeds have a protective outer shell. It is waxy and keeps the insides safe, while still allowing moisture and air to enter.
This shell protects the root, stem, embryonic shoot and the oil sac which provides nutrients to the other components. If the shell is damaged or cracked, the delicate insides can suffer damage and the seed goes bad.
But environmental factors can also break down the protection. If the shell dries out due to a lack of moisture, it becomes harder and more brittle. It is more likely to crack, but even if it doesn’t, a harder shell no longer lets in moisture and the insides dry out and die.
Environmental factors don’t affect the outer shell alone. They have an affect on the insides as well and can cause the seed to go bad, while, in many cases, still looking perfectly good. Let’s take a look at the main factors that will cause your weed seeds to go bad.
Factors That Cause Weed Seeds To Go Bad
There are 5 primary factors that cause marijuana seeds to go bad.
Warmth can signal germination. Even if the seed does not germinate, which is likely if the other conditions for successful germination are not met, warm temperatures can launch some of the chemical processes for germination. This can cause the seed to use up its nutrient stores in the oil sac, meaning they are no longer available down the road, when you actually try to germinate the seed.
Cold temperatures are best, but you don’t want it too cold, either. If the seeds freeze, they can also go bad, unless you have the equipment to freeze them rapidly.
As mentioned above, conditions that are too dry can cause the seed to dry out. That said, they do need to be stored in quite dry conditions, with a relative humidity of 8 to 10%.
If conditions are too humid, the seed can rot. And similar to warm temperatures, higher humidity levels signal germination, leading the the same issues.
Light is another factor that signals germination. To prevent this, keep the seeds in a dark place.
Fresh air also signals germination. Seeds are best kept in a vacuum, but if you don’t have a vacuum sealer, just keep them in a sealed location. The lack of fresh air will keep them from launching germination and thus going bad.
Worst of all are fluctuations in the environment. To keep seeds from going bad, you want to store them under steady conditions. If the environmental conditions change, they wreak havoc on the seed’s chemical processes, because it will, again, think it needs to begin germination and use up its nutrient reserves.
How To Prevent Marijuana Seeds From Going Bad
The best thing you can do to keep cannabis seeds from going bad is to provide the correct environmental conditions. In other words, to avoid any of the factors listed above. It is also important to start with quality seeds, so make sure you buy seeds from a reputable seed bank.
Keep Them In A Vacuum Sealed Container
If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, just keeping them in an airtight container helps a lot. A mason jar is ideal for this. If you purchased the seeds from an online seed bank, they likely came in the mail in a vacuum sealed container. If possible, keep it unopened and use that to store the seeds.
Protect Them From Environmental Fluctuations
If you keep the seeds in a mason jar, ideally within another vacuum sealed container that you place inside the mason jar, this goes a long way to sealing off the outside environment. Follow the next suggestions below to ensure a steady environment to keep the seeds from going bad prematurely.
Keep Humidity Low
Placing a desiccant inside the mason jar with the seeds ensures a steady, low relative humidity level. Replace the silica gel packs or other desiccant every 6 months or so. In a pinch, you can also use grains of rice, but you’ll want to replace those more often.
Keep Temperature Low
The easiest way to accomplish this is to store the mason jar with the seeds inside a refrigerator. Ideally, it should be a dedicated fridge, or at least one that does not get opened often, to avoid the temperature fluctuations that occur every time you open the door.
Keep Them In Darkness
Seeds need to be stored in the dark, so either cover the mason jar so that no light gets in, cover the seeds inside the mason jar, or ensure the storage location is in complete darkness.
How To Save Bad Weed Seeds
If you have marijuana seeds that have already gone bad, no amount of darkness, low humidity or low temperature conditions will reverse that.
Most likely, the seeds are lost. Don’t buy from bad seed shops, like the Dutch seed shop, in the future. However, there are a few things you can try, if it has already been a few days and the seeds are showing no sign of hatching.
Sandpaper Outer Layer
One trick you can try is to use sandpaper to scrape off some of the outer layer. This creates small abrasions so that moisture can enter the seeds. It can help in cases where the shell has hardened to the point that moisture can no longer enter effectively.
The key is to not rub too hard. A good way to accomplish this is to use fine sandpaper and roll it up, so that the abrasive side is on the inside. Put the seeds inside this little tube and cover the two ends with your hands.
Now shake this for a few minutes. The seeds will knock against the sandpaper and it will do the task for which it is meant, without scraping off too much of the shell.
Cut Outer Layer
Another option is to take a sharp knife and slightly cut into the shell. This also allows water to enter. You want to make the cut crosswise, not from tip to tail. This procedure is riskier than the sandpaper, because it is very easy to cut too deeply.
Cannabis Seeds Going Bad: Final Thoughts
Marijuana seeds can go bad, just like any other type of seed. But if you buy quality genetics and you store them properly (or even just decently), they can easily last a few years. The better the conditions you provide, the longer they last while still having a high rate of successful germination.
Can Cannabis Seeds Go Out of Date?
Yes, cannabis seeds can expire and go out of date. It’s not an easy question to answer, and there are a lot of variables that will factor into how long cannabis seeds last for. If you’ve been sitting on some old cannabis seeds and you’re wondering how long they’ll be good for then this guide will answer all of your questions.
Germinating a seed only takes around two days, so the best way to find out is to try germinating it (check your countries laws as this is illegal in some places). But if that is not an option then we can give you some rough guidelines on how long you can store cannabis seeds along with some top tips to ensure longevity.
How long do cannabis seeds last before they go bad
Cannabis seeds have an average life span of one to two years, but the life span can be greatly increased when you store cannabis seeds correctly. The life span of seeds can also be greatly reduced if stored incorrectly, so it is important to learn all about storage.
The viability of a seed will greatly reduce as they age, so it is always best to buy fresh ones rather than attempting to store them for the future.
Let’s take a look below and investigate some of the factors which will influence how long they last, such as storage conditions and how you look after them.
How much longer will cannabis seeds last with the best storage solution?
If you store your seeds correctly then they could last a good five years, some have claimed to of germinated seeds that have been stored for over 10 years; so they are always worth checking out before you dispose of them. The best storage solution for a seed is placing them in a freezer, you can learn more about that here.
At Sticky Seeds we store all of our seeds in optimum conditions to ensure longevity. This is often overlooked by customers seeking to use a random shop and not something many people think about asking the company before buying.
Will cracked seeds still germinate if planted?
If you have cracked seeds, there’s a good chance that they’re not going to germinate. Once the outer shell of the seed has been cracked or broken, the genetic information or material inside the seed is compromised. If you already had the seeds, then it might be worth an experiment to see if they germinate, but if you’re relying on them germinating, it would be best to throw them away and buy cannabis seeds fresh from a shop, such as ours!
Cannabis seeds are quite hardy and can withstand long amounts of time in storage if you take the appropriate steps to protect them.
So there you go! If you follow the correct storage methods, your cannabis seeds could last anywhere from one to five years! However, most experts recommend that to get maximum germination from your cannabis seeds, you plant them as soon as possible (but only if you are lucky enough to live in a country where this is legal). If you have any questions about storing your cannabis seeds then drop us a message!
Do seeds go bad?
If I buy a couple seeds but only plant one or two will I have to plant the rest sometime soon?
For reference, we (humans) keep a few vaults filled with seeds from which crops to rebuild society could be grown. Seed banks.
I don't think they ever go bad, but they may depreciate some with age.
Good point, but also remember those are kept in a very specific temperature and environment. Not saying they won’t last at home, just something to know
How long would you say that’ll happen? If I bought like two 5 seeds planted two then like 4 months later I plant more would they be fine?
Their less viable after a certain point, this means their less likely to germinate. Their good for ATLEAST a year, sometimes five. All depends. There’s ways to store them that would increase shelf life.
just popped a 3 year old bruce banner. germinated as quickly as the "new" seeds
I still grow ten + year seeds. Over 15 years I keep buying packs, growing 2-3 then buying more packs. Sometimes ill go down nostalgia road and pick an old seed from the stash. They’re in a drawer, sealed in old photo film containers.
I have some seeds, gathered by a friend in 1993, in my germination tray now. I'll let you know if they sprout.
Like others have said, time will degrade them but they should still have a fighting chance.
I have a big bag of bag seed I got from a previous purchase of mine that was run rife with seeds. I saved them all with the thought to grow them (hey free bud) – they've been sitting in a ziploc bag in a dark place for about 1.5 – 2 yrs at this point and I just started to try growing some of them again about a month ago. When I initially got them I germinated some of them and grew to harvest in a solo cup successfully and it was pretty good.
Out of probably 20 seeds I tried to germinate about a third failed outright, another little more than a third died because they were just not strong enough or I did something to kill them, and I have 6 left now that survived and I am topping/LST/scrog.
I think I lucked out too on some lucky bag seed. I'm pretty sure the seeds are feminised because every single one I've germinated has been female.