What's new

Store pumpkin seeds

By Jasmine, 15 February 2013 Activity

Pumpkins taste great, but what can you do with the seeds? We’ll show you how to preserve them, so when the time is right, you can plant them in your garden!

A cut pumpkin and a colander.

The most important things are a pumpkin and a colander.

Written by Sarah Kellett

You will need

  • Half a pumpkin. Buy pumpkin that has already been cut in half, or get an adult to cut it for you.
  • Water
  • Colander
  • Paper towel
  • Plate
Hand squeezing pumpkin seeds into a colander.

Remove the seeds from the pumpkin and put them in the colander.

What to do

  1. Remove the seeds in the middle and place them in a colander.
  2. Under running water, pick the seeds out from any remaining pumpkin pulp and rinse the seeds well.
  3. Spread paper towel over the plate.
  4. Put the clean pumpkin seeds on the paper towel. Leave them to dry for a week in a warm, dry place. (Note: If at any stage the pumpkin seeds are starting to look mouldy or off, throw them out and try again under drier conditions.)
  5. Once dry, store the seeds in a labelled paper envelope or small plastic bag. Keep them somewhere safe until you are ready to plant them.

What’s happening?

Pumpkin seeds drying on paper towels.

After washing the seeds, lay them out to dry on paper towels.

Drying seeds before storage prevents bacteria and mould from growing. But not all seeds survive the drying process.

‘Orthodox’ seeds can be almost completely dried and frozen, and will still be able to grow after storage. Pumpkins have orthodox seeds, as do eucalypts, acacias and sunflowers. Mangroves, on the other hand, have ‘recalcitrant’ seeds which are damaged by drying.

Mango, avocado and other tropical fruit seeds are also sensitive to drying, plus they can be damaged by cold temperatures, making them particularly hard to store.

Even some of your pumpkin seeds will be damaged by storage, so it’s worth saving three times more seed than you need. Bigger seeds are more likely to grow into strong plants, so use those seeds first.


An orthodox Judean date palm seed was accidentally stored for 2000 years. This long-lived seed sprouted in 2005 and has since grown into a tree. It is considered the oldest viable seed, though older ones might be waiting to be discovered.

Seed conservation can help reintroduce lost or threatened species into habitats, so long as a seed from the species was collected and properly stored. Seed banks collect seed from many plant species, and research the best methods for storage for each variety.

CSIRO’s Australian Tree Seed Centre (ATSC) has seed from over 1000 species of trees and shrubs.

If you’re after more science activities for kids, subscribe to Double Helix magazine!

Subscribe now! button


  1. Thanks for this information


Leave a Reply

By posting a comment you are agreeing to the Double Helix commenting guidelines.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.