Ready to get your garden seeds organized? These two systems make it easy to keep track of what you have and keep everything in good order. No more lost or forgotten seed packs!
I recommend this system for first organizing seeds by category before deciding on storage containers. Once you have a system down, it’s so much easier to keep everything organized.
Seed Collection Container Ideas
If you are an avid seed-sower and have a lot of seed packets to show for it, it can be difficult to keep your seeds organized.
The first step is to come up with a categorization system that works.
With your system in place, it’s time to find storage containers that make it easy to find what you’re looking for and maintain order. If it’s fussy, we end up dumping seeds for sorting later and mayhem ensues.
The two storage systems shown here get high marks because they are not only simple but portable. Garden planning is so much easier when you know your seed inventory. Plus, waterproof containers means the seeds are safely protected so you can grab what you need and bring them out to the garden without worrying about losing or damaging seeds along the way.
If your current shoebox method works fine, I wouldn’t change a thing.
But, if you find you lose track of what you have (and waste seeds), it may be worth switching to a more organized system.
Seed Storage Basics
Before we dive into the organization, it’s good to know best practices for seed storage.
The three keys are dark, dry, and cool, but there is plenty of room for forgiveness if you’re storing fresh seeds for just a year or two.
If you keep your seeds in darkness in average household conditions (moderate or low humidity with temperatures around 70°F or 21°C), your seeds should be fine for now. Make it a habit to use up older seeds first and order fresh ones as needed.
For longer term storage, it’s best to take additional steps including providing cooler conditions.
Optimum Seed Storage
The lower the temperature and moisture levels, the longer most seeds stay viable.
See this entire seed storage article for details.
Best temperature | 32-41°F (0-5°C)
Most fridges are in this range.
Also, room temperature (70°F/21°C or lower) is fine for short-term storage (1 year).
Store dry seeds and keep dry | Relative humidity below 50% | Keep away from light.
Paper Envelopes | In sealed jars with silica gel pack if moisture is an issue.
The Photo Case System
This idea has really taken off over the past few years. This product is sold as storage cases in a tote or bin for sorting printed photographs (see it on Amazon here). The case size (approximately 1.5-inches x 4-inches x 6-inches) can work nicely with the size of most seed packets.
These units are available in a few different sizes and price ranges. I’ve seen them with either 16 or 18 cases with prices ranging from $12 to $50 (for the exact same product). I’ve listed some shopping tips in the Sources section below to find the best deal.
Depending on the volume of seeds you have and how specifically you want to group them, you may need more than one bin.
I highly recommend getting your seeds in order before you order a storage case (or several) so you know just how much storage you will need.
First, decide a logical organization system that makes sense for you.
I suggest using this system for categorizing seeds.
Everything is first grouped into these main categories:
- Trees, Shrubs, Vines
- Tropical Plants
Within each group, I use these printable labels with common plant names (beets, beans, broccoli, and so on) to keep the seeds in alphabetical order.
- Portable, easy way to keep moderate amounts of seed packets sorted and dry.
This system definitely appeals to a certain level of orderliness but I also had issues with the latches and the size of the cases.
- The ones I tested have terrible plastic latches. They are so stiff that it hurts my fingers to open and close them. Knowing how I work, this would definitely lead to dumping seeds for sorting later—something I really want to avoid.
- Also, I’m pretty sure the latches will break off at some point and there is no way to repair them. When plastic is made to act like a hinge, it’s going to wear out eventually.
If you plan to use this type of case, try it out in-person first and look for a better latch than mine have.
- The size of the cases is also not as suitable for my seed packets as I hoped. Any bulky seeds likes beans or peas use up a fair amount of space and end up needing larger, separate containers that don’t fit in the bin. One of the reasons I’m attracted to a storage system like this is to have one consistent method so this was no bueno for me.
- Finally, once seed packets have been opened, I keep them in small food bags to catch any seeds that happen to spill. My baggie system did fit nicely in the seed cases and instead I kept finding (unidentifiable) spilled seeds within the cases.
I know lots of gardeners like this photo case method but I found the Ziploc bag system (below) much better in the long run.
- Dollar Stores
- Print Your Own Labels | These are the printable plant name templates I use
I mentioned these photo storage cases are available at many different price points for the same (or similar) product. They come in clear-ish plastic and rainbow-colored sets.
While you can order them any time on Amazon, it’s also worth checking stores like Michaels where you may be able to apply a coupon (e.g. save 40% on a single product).
Alternately, check dollar stores. Look for plastic cases sold for photos, food storage, or as pencil cases. Then, buy a couple of bins to match.
Ziploc Food Bag System
This has been my default system for years and the one I have stuck with.
Everything is first grouped into the same basic categories I listed above.
Every single seed pack, once it has been opened, is kept in a small sandwich-size food bag to catch any stray seeds that might escape.
All seeds of the same type (in their individual sandwich bags) are kept together in larger Ziploc food or freezer bags labelled beets, beans, broccoli, and so on.
To help the bags stand up in the bins, I inset a piece of cardstock or thick paper into each bag. The seed packets are placed in front of the cardstock (within each bag) so everything is visible.
The printed labels with images add some consistent, cute factor.
- Portable, easy way to keep large amounts of seed packets sorted and dry.
- Unlike the photo case with labels or marker on top, it’s not as easy to read the seed bags at a glance. Tall labelled dividers would solve this but I’ve never felt the need.
- Bags are not as aesthetically pleasing as something like mason jars or other cute containers, but I just find this system is so easy to maintain (and flexible) that it’s worth it. Plus, I could always find more attractive bins or baskets if I wanted the whole thing to look prettier. Yes, I’m biased!
The bags shown here are SCJohnson Ziploc 24 Freezer Large bags but, as I’m sure you know, there are lots of other options. If the bin matters, you might want to buy that first and then choose Ziploc bags that fit within the bins and accommodate the seed packets.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛
Empress of Dirt
Printable Plant Name Label Templates
Four digital files for printing plant name labels, useful for organizing seed collections and labelling seedling containers. These templates are compatible with common Avery label formats.
This is not a physical product.
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