before you order seeds: assessing viability

seed viability chart

WAIT—DON’T GET SEDUCED, or at least not by seeds, not quite yet. Try to resist that inevitable catalog binge at least until you inventory what’s left over, and still viable, from last year’s stash. I spent part of yesterday doing my tally, fearing impulse-buying would otherwise land me with double beans and no spinach, or worse. Seed viability was one of the topics on this week’s radio podcast (stream it, or subscribe free on iTunes), and while you listen, you can skip right to the handy reference piece on the matter (the chart above comes from there).

  1. Lynne says:

    Thank-you Margaret! I was just coming to your site to find this very chart. Christmas is past and it’s time to dream of the 2012 garden!

  2. bethalina says:


    just getting my orders together. now, is there a chart for the proper number of tomato types in one garden? ;) i always seem to have an insane number, or so i am told.

  3. Galen says:

    This is a really great chart. Concise, yet full of information. It is so easy to go for that seed catalog and forget the heirloom seeds that are tucked away. Surprising after going to the trouble of harvesting seed.

  4. Stacey Couch says:

    Awesome chart and reminder to sit down at the computer with the box of old seeds on the desk. Even though a single pack of seeds is relatively inexpensive those lists get long and the totals get high. It’s good to be a strategic seed buyer.

  5. Granny Mae says:

    I too have recieved several seed cataologs and feel the urge to dive into an order. However, the voice of restraint prevails.
    I am zone 4. 2011 I was successful with zinnias, and verbena bonariensis germinating with the milk jug method. Has anyone started purple coneflower in a milk jug?
    I am redesigning a butterfly garden and want to include more coneflower.

    Granny Mae

    1. Margaret says:

      Hi, Granny Mae. I have not done so. Light, good potting medium, and ample but not excess moisture and proper temperatures are what it cares about — and time. Not so much the pot particulars, so long as there is good drainage. Remember this is a perennial, so it is a little slower than those zinnias or V. bonariensis to produce!

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