THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN UPDATED: the method of placing seeds in water to see if they sink or stay on the surface is not a good indicator of seed viability. We tested this and did not get good results, yet the same seeds did sprout using the germination test (see below).
Here are some methods to test the viability of seeds:
- Germination test: This is the most reliable method to test seed viability. Place a few seeds on a moist paper towel in a small plastic bag (to keep the paper towel moist) and keep undisturbed in a warm and bright location. Wait a few days or up to a week to see if they sprout. If most of the seeds on the paper towel sprout, the seeds are considered viable.
- Seed coat test: Check the seed coat for signs of damage, such as cracks or holes. If the seed coat is intact, the seed is likely to be viable.
- Seed age: The older the seed, the less likely it is to be viable.Check the expiration date on the seed packet or try to find out when the seed was harvested.
The viability of seeds depends on many factors, such as the type of seed, its age, and the conditions in which it has been stored.
Keep in mind that not all seeds will germinate even if they are viable. Factors such as temperature, humidity, and soil conditions can also affect the germination rate.