Do Packaged Seeds Expire?

3.7 based on 15 ratings

Updated on Sep 07, 2012

Grade Level: 4th - 7th; Type: Botany


Discover whether packaged seeds, despite having an expiration date printed, actually do expire.

Research Questions:

  • What are the parts of a plant seed?
  • What causes a seed to germinate?

Seed packages have expiration dates--but does that mean they'll no longer grow if planted? In this experiment, we'll find out.


  • Packages of old, expired seeds: You'll need to ask friends and family, or ask your local gardening supply store
  • Packages of new seeds that are the same kind/variety as the expired seeds
  • Soil with fertilizer
  • Water
  • Sunlight
  • Ruler
  • Patience

Experimental Procedure

  1. Pick a location rich in equal amounts of sunlight to plant your seeds.
  2. Separate two spots for your two groups of seeds, at least six inches apart.
  3. Dig holes for your seeds- insert your expired seeds in one section and the new seeds in the other. Cover the hole(s) up.
  4. Give the seeds their first taste of water- you should water it a bit everyday or when it looks dry and the soil feels dry. You don't need to water them when it rains.
  5. Observe the seeds daily and see which one germinates first.
  6. If growth is spotted, measure the height with your ruler and record the measurement.
  7. Compare the heights when several weeks have passed and note any significant differences.

Suggested Chart

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7
Old Seeds

New Seeds

Terms/Concepts: Plant growth process; germination; Photosynthesis; Seeds; Water


Rabinowitch E, Govindjee (1969). Photosynthesis. London: J. Wiley. ISBN0-471-70424-5.

Sofia PC is currently a college student with a deep interest in science who is aspiring to become a writer. She writes about all sorts of things across all subjects including, but not limited to; science, crafts, and fashion. She hopes to become a good writer so she can share her thoughts and experiences with the world and future generations.

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