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.
- 1 Do Marijuana Seeds Go Bad?
- 1.1 Why Do Cannabis Seeds Go Bad?
- 1.2 Factors That Cause Weed Seeds To Go Bad
- 1.3 How To Prevent Marijuana Seeds From Going Bad
- 1.4 How To Save Bad Weed Seeds
- 2 Cannabis Seeds Going Bad: Final Thoughts
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. To further improve your chances, read our article on how to start seeds indoors without grow lights.
Craig Slover says
i have several plants “lemon Kush” going right now from seeds from 40 years ago..from back in early 80s.. they have been frozen all this time ,,and everyone says they won’t germ.. but 85% of these seeds germed and now 5 weeks into Veg and growing more vigerously than some seeds i bought few years ago.. Just wanted to share this info…since everywhere you read of this subject …is all similar to your article here
There are always exceptions and you are lucky to have an amazing batch of seeds there.
I placed a few seeds I had collected over the past year in what I call float bed trays (homemade) on the 26th of March now here it is April 2nd and I’ve had nothing sprout, I was expecting a cold night or two still ahead so I placed them maybe a little deeper than half a inch should I still expect some to come up or what it did unexpectedly get down to 23 degrees a couple of those nights but everything was covered and seeds were still under soil. Thank You
Dude, you need some serious education on growing. No one germinates outside in the dirt especially if it’s still getting cold at night. Gotta get em going indoors and when the temperature won’t drop below 50 you can start acclimating your new plants a few hours each day and continue to let them acclimate by putting outside for a couple hours and work up from there until you can transplant outside.. Don’t Germinate in dirt, that’s old, old school.. do a little ready, it will go a far way!!!!
Lou Mann says
I have been using the same seeds for some 10 years almost. They have been stored and I dry cool place but never in the fridge. This year the plants are beautiful but there is no THC content that I can feel. Would you consider the lack of t h c being from the old age of the seeds?