Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Question for the Hive Mind: Seed Storage

So I have lots of Portulaca grandiflora (moss rose) around, and I LOVE it. Seriously. I mean, I knew I liked it before, but very few of my outdoor plants are doing what they're supposed to be doing, and Portulaca is one of them. It doesn't hurt that the green metallic bees, which I also like, are fond of Portulaca.

So naturally, when I have a lot of something that's working out well, I want to jump to the next level, which is having too much of it. So I've been collecting seeds, and now I have this many:

I figure I probably can't do anything with them this year, right? Or can I? And if I have to store them, what's the best way to do that? I tried storing some Chlorophytum 'Fire Flash' seeds in an empty prescription bottle a while back (more than a year ago), and they turned moldy really quickly, so that doesn't seem like a great idea.

As long as I'm asking, I also have some Nicotiana seeds too. Less impressed with Nicotiana as a plant, but they're nice enough, and I'm willing to have more if they're willing to show up.

So, where do I keep them? I wouldn't be asking if I hadn't already had a bad experience with the mold on the Chlorophytums.


sheila said...

I save the little dessicant packets from shoe boxes. I put my seeds in envelopes, then in a big plastic jar with the dessicant stuff and stick that in the spare fridge. Works well for me - never any mold.

That's a LOTTA seed! Have you considered selling on ebay?

Claude said...

Portaluca is one of my faves too... If you sprout them inside, do it early, the seeds take a long time to germinate. About 2 to 4 weeks... bottom heat helps. I was about to say what sheila said... envelopes and a cool dark place... the portaluca may spread it's seed and sprout on it's own outside. It tends to, although it waits a good month after everything else has sprouted. Possibly waiting for the soil to warm up?

lynn'sgarden said...

You can also try silica gel..and store in layers instead of all clumped together to prevent mold. And you should keep them in the fridge...Of course, this advice is from someone who's daylily seeds are shriveled and useless..

Lzyjo said...

I second and third what others have said, get some of those silica packs, if your can't find any packs you can also buy silica gel beads at the craft store. I also always use paper envelopes, from my experience plastic has the propensity to hold the moisture and grow mold. More really fine seeds try wrapping them with a small square of wax paper, kind of like they do with drugs....I only know this from the movies!!

I have a
printable seed envelope on my blog. Just print it on 8 1/5 by 11.

I like portulaca too.

Anonymous said...

Oh my, I've loved it since I was a kid. You've got good advice - little glassine envelopes and dry cool storage should do it (or the waxed paper squares - but don't spill them!). Don't wait too long to start them in the spring, they take a while to get to the blooming stage. You've got enough seed to cover the state right now, so why not deadhead your plants and keep them blooming longer?

Diane said...

We use kitty litter as a silica alternative at the lab. There's a particular type that's made of white crystals like rock salt (clay litters leave dust on everything). I generally just store seeds in paper bags, or sow them in the fall and let them figure it out on their own.

mr_subjunctive said...


You have a spare fridge?

Hadn't considered selling on eBay, because 1) I really do want a lot of Portulaca, and 2) I have no idea how well this is going to work, so I figure I need some seeds to waste. Also 3) I've found eBay difficult and confusing, the few times I've happened across it so far. Though I suppose, given what people pay for seed packets, there might be money to be made here. Hmmm.


I don't mind if it wants to spread on its own outside, but I have it in containers now, so I figure mostly it's going to spread in the containers.

lynn'sgarden / Lzyjo:

At the moment, I'm using the little silica gel dessicant cylinders that come in my bupropion (=wellbutrin) bottles, not having any silica packs from shoes. Hopefully that will be enough.


What do you mean? They're not showing any signs of slowing down blooming now. Last year, I didn't even collect seeds, just let them go in planters outside the apartment, and they kept going all summer and fall.


Well, I do have kitty litter, which I bought in the hopes of using it as a soil amendment (results: mixed. Fired clay "aquatic mixes" are better, but still, the Dracaena doesn't seem to be complaining.), but it's the clay kind. Not willing to have two kinds of kitty litter when we don't have a kitty.


This also applies to the Nicotiana?

no1uno said...

paper envelopes all the way. You can write on them and they don't mold.

Chicago Garden said...

Spread the seeds out on a paper plate or piece of newsprint for a few days to dry.

After that I like to store them in paper envelopes, a good use for all that junk mail you may get, and write the names or notes on the envelope and keep in a cool dry area.

The prescription bottles are a good seed storage device, you just have to make sure your seeds are dry before putting them in there.

Anonymous said...

I've always heard that seeds should be allowed to thoroughly air-dry and then kept in an envelope of paper. Being sealed in plastic prevents them from 'breathing' and encourages mould as a result.

sheila said...

Spare fridge explanation: We have an extra fridge/freezer in the basement. Mostly because we need the extra freezer space, so the fridge section isn't usually very full, unless we're cooking Xmas dinner or something. So stray seeds and bulbs have a way of moving in there, where husband is less likely to find them and complain about it...

Amy said...

Thanks for the great seed storage tips. They were much needed.