Where to Buy Vegetable and Flower Seeds
Find out where to buy your vegetable, flower and herb seeds based on a variety of important factors, including widest selection, most heirlooms, organic seed and regional varieties.
Seed shopping may be the most satisfying shopping I do — unlike with jeans shopping, I don’t have to try anything on, and yet everything fits. I get my seeds from a variety of seed companies, and while I use a myriad of beautiful, printed seed catalogs to browse and dream, I usually do my ordering online.
I would say that when seed shopping, it’s best to practice restraint, but then I would be preaching something I don’t practice, so hey, go nuts as I do. Seeds are relatively inexpensive, they offer the promise of a new season and most will keep for a couple of years if stored in consistent, mild conditions.
One important tip when seed shopping is to look for varieties that are either widely adapted — meaning they’re known to grow well most anywhere — or are specific to your region, meaning they’re known to grow well in your particular climate. To do this, I like to order a portion of my seed from smaller, regional seed companies that cater to my region (the Southeast), usually through heirloom varieties.
Here are some great options for where to buy your vegetable, flower and herb seeds based on a variety of important factors. The first list includes companies serving the whole country, while the lower list includes regional seed companies that specialize in varieties suited to certain areas.
Widest Selection: Burpee
Some gardeners only grow heirloom varieties with interesting names and stories, while others stick to hybrids that have been bred for qualities such as disease resistance and high yields. Personally, I grow both. If you’re looking for a wide range of options, try Burpee, the name that has become nearly synonymous with garden seed over its 140-year history.
Most Heirloom Varieties: Seed Savers Exchange
Heirloom varieties have been passed down through generations and often have interesting names that divulge their origins. Being specialized, they often grow best in a particular climate, and there are many heirlooms beloved by gardeners in certain regions. One seed company and non-profit, Seed Savers Exchange, has made its mission to collect these varieties and stories from across the U.S. and keep the seeds in production.
Best for All-Organic Seed: High Mowing Organic Seeds
While it’s not necessary to start from organic seed to grow your vegetables organically, many gardeners buy organic seed because it underscores the importance of organic growing practices overall. Organic seed is collected from plants grown organically and not treated with any synthetic chemicals. One great resource for 100% organic seed selection is High Mowing Organic Seeds.
Note: While organic seed is definitely non-GMO (genetically modified organism), so is all seed sold for the home garden. None of the seed companies mentioned in this article sell GMO seed.
Most Informative Seed Packets: Botanical Interests
Seed packets can be helpful at minimum and inspiring at best — and the beautiful and informative packets from Botanical Interests are both. The company prides itself on its seed packets that contain loads of details about plant history and lore, growing conditions, and harvesting tips. They also each include custom illustrations that are true works of art.
Seed Companies by Region
First, a word about patience: These are all small, local, often non-profit or collectively-owned businesses working overtime to provide a beautiful product at a tough time. Be patient with them and heed notes about longer-than-normal shipping and order processing times.
Mid-Atlantic and Southeast
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange: A cooperative company focused on heirlooms, the Virginia-based SESE says it focuses on Mid-Atlantic varieties, though it also serves the Southeast.
Sow True Seed: This is another small seed company I frequent, based in Asheville, North Carolina. While they don’t claim to focus on the Southeast, they do carry many heirloom varieties from the southern Appalachian region I call home.
Hudson Valley Seed Company: Started as a seed library, the company now distinguishes itself with “art packs” featuring juried artwork submitted through an annual competition. Based in the Hudson Valley of New York, they also carry many varieties suited to the Northeast region.
Southwest and Mountain West
Grand Prismatic Seed: Based in Salt Lake City, this is a wonderful source for seed endemic to the Southwest and Mountain states. In addition to carrying vegetables and flowers, the company also specializes in dye plants as well as native plants of the West.
Territorial Seed: Based near Eugene, Oregon, this family-owned company sells seed primarily in the Pacific Northwest, and of course, online. Their selection of flowers and herbs is nearly as large as their inventory of vegetable seeds.
Seed Savers Exchange: While it’s also listed above as a broad source for heirloom seed that will grow throughout the country, this company based in Iowa does show a particular interest in the region they call home, including a glorious selection of prairie plants.