Do you keep old onion seed?
General rule is that onion seed is only good for 1 year.
And like all general rules (and onions for that matter), there are more layers to reality.
At the least, you should change the wording to “BOUGHT onion seed is only good for one year.”
That BOUGHT makes all the difference.
Freshly harvested onion seed should last a good two years.
But you’re not necessarily getting fresh onion seed when you order from your favourite seed company.
There are a lot of steps from seed harvest to seed cleaning to shipping seed from the grower to the seller to germ tests to other quality control to packing the seed to finally getting it in your order.
And you probably want your onion seed to be delivered by February. These are some of the earliest seeds you’ll be starting in your nursery.
That creates a logistics puzzle for your seed company. It is much easier for them to get that seed out the door if they have year-old seed when it’s time to start packing and shipping.
And you shouldn’t be worried about this seed. Seed companies will test the germination of their onion seed before they pack it and ship it your way.
But you should use that seed the year you buy it.
If you have leftover seed, you can keep it for the next year but only use it if your favourite onion is on backorder or maybe you ran out of seed unexpectedly.
p.s. This is pretty much true of all Allium seed – the plant family that includes leeks, onions, and chives.
p.p.s. You could also do a germ test on your leftover Allium seed to see if you can trust it before ordering more seeds. If the seed germinates well, then use that seed without worry!
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