When you are ready to start planning your garden, a question you’ll need to answer is where to buy seed. You might be surprised, but I don’t buy seed from only one source; I routinely buy seed from several different seed companies because they each offer something different.
My list is definitely not an exhaustive one; there are many other great seed companies in addition to the ones I’m listing. But by sharing my favorites and why, hopefully if you’re looking for a supplier for a particular purpose, this post will help you know where to start.
Sources For Buying Seeds
There are a variety of sources I like to buy seeds from, and I purchase from each one for different reasons, as I’ll share below.
- Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
- Seed Savers Exchange
- Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
- Territorial Seed Co.
- Johnny’s Selected Seeds
- White Harvest Seed Company
If you’d like to watch instead of read about the sources for buying seed that I recommend, you can watch the video here:
Baker Creek Heriloom Seeds
Let’s begin with a longtime favorite option of mine for purchasing heirloom seeds: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I’ve used Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds for many years because they not only have your basic variety of common heirloom and open-pollinated plants, but they also carry a wide variety of unique seeds too.
Their website is easy to navigate and has a lot of beautiful pictures that make it easy to find what you are looking for. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds offers free shipping that is quite fast as well, and they have very reasonable prices.
One drawback is that not all plants will perform well in all areas, but if you spend a little bit of time reading the review section of their website, you can alleviate a lot of these problems by looking at the location. The review section of their web site is my favorite resource.
Seed Savers Exchange
My next source for buying seed is Seed Savers Exchange and it’s similar to Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds but has a varied selection. If you are looking for heirloom seed but don’t find what you are looking for at Baker Creek, then check Seed Savers Exchange.
You will find that their catalog is enjoyable to peruse because it’s not overwhelming with options to choose from. Seed Savers Exchange also supports a great cause – to maintain open-pollinated diversity of plants.
While Seed Savers Exchange has a great mission to keep plants from going extinct, their main drawback is their shipping fees. My last order was $22.50 and the shipping cost me an additional $4.28 — almost a quarter of the cost. Shipping cost is definitely something to keep in mind when you are shopping for seed.
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
Let’s move on to my next source for buying seeds, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. I’ve been buying from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange for a very long time, especially since I live in the South. You’ll love this catalog if you too live in the South, as the seeds are curated for southern environments.
One benefit of this source for buying seeds is that their seed catalog lists each plant’s growing details and specifically mentions southern growing challenges, like bolting in lettuce. The last page of the seed catalog has an informative guide to growing cool season crops in the southern climate, from mid-summer planting of broccoli to late fall planting of arugula. As an added bonus, the seed catalog also gives temperatures that these crops are generally hardy to – which is very helpful for those of us who can grow into the winter.
Keep in mind that there is a shipping fee for this seed source as well. Most rates are dependent on the amount you spend and start at $3.50.
Territorial Seed Co.
My next source for buying seeds is Territorial Seed Co. which has a good mix of open-pollinated and hybrid seeds. Their seed catalog has a great mix of easy-to-digest snippets of seed information like: soil temperature for germination and transplanting, seed depth, plant spacing, days to germination, whether to direct sow or transplant by starting indoors, harvesting, and storage.
I find their biggest drawback to be the lack of photos through the seed catalog. They do not show a photo of each variety, but they do have photos of most plants. While their shipping fee is steep, $8.95 flat rate last time I checked, but to me their selection and quality is worth it if you buy as many seeds from them as I do.
Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Another great seed source is Johnny’s Selected Seeds, which in my opinion is the Cadillac of the seed ordering world! Johnny’s Selected Seeds has a mix of open-pollinated and hybrid seeds choices, but their selection of hybrids is exceptional. I particularly appreciate their selection of disease resistant plants, such as cucumbers and summer squash with resistance to powdery mildew.
Not only does Johnny’s seed catalog provide great information on disease resistant varieties, but it also provides growing information that keeps in mind regional adaptations. Another nice feature of their catalog is the graphics that show comparisons of the final expected harvest size of each variety. This visual representation is very helpful for the seed shopper.
I particularly enjoy purchasing greens and lettuce seeds from Johnny’s. Their selection is better than any other I’ve seen.
While Johnny’s seeds tend to be a bit pricey (okay, a lot), in many cases the quantities are larger, even in the smaller packets. Make sure when you’re price shopping that you compare the quantities. In the case of greens, it’s a better deal to purchase the second-smallest pack instead of the smallest pack.
Shipping fees start at $6.50 and I’ve paid up to $15 on shipping for an order of $75 worth of seeds. Keep that in mind when you are shopping at Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
White Harvest Seed Company
Moving on to my next source for buying seeds is White Harvest Seed Company. I like White Harvest because they are a family-owned seed company with great people and wonderful heirloom seeds. You can find all your basic seeds here and thankfully the seed catalog is not overwhelming – in fact, it’s very simple to browse.
The seed prices from White Harvest have not risen in many years, unlike a lot of the other seed sources. For the seeds that I have purchased from White Harvest, I have definitely saved money. Their main drawback is their limited selection of seed to choose from. Also, their seed catalog doesn’t show photos of every variety and has just basic growing information included. Thankfully their shipping is not overly expensive; it starts at $3/per order.
If you are wondering where to get the seed catalogs from the seed sources I’ve mentioned above, you can request your catalog by going to their website.
While I enjoy flipping through colorful seed catalogs, two other sources that I purchase seed from offer online-only shopping.
True Leaf Market
At True Leaf Market you’ll find reasonable prices and fast shipping.This is my go-to source for cover crops, arugula and greens, but they carry an array of other vegetable, herb, and flower seeds. Their selection online is quite robust.
MIGardener is a seed source where you’ll find very reasonable prices, with most seed packets starting at just $2 each, but make sure you check the quantity. Often those less expensive seed packets come with fewer seeds than what you’ll find in other places. In many cases, this is just fine (do you REALLY need 100 tomato or broccoli seeds?) but sometimes if you need more (like if you’re planting several long rows of beans), this is something to consider. MIGardener offers free shipping in the US and Canada on orders over $12, which is a big plus.
Don’t buy from a random, arbitrary seed catalog without doing some preliminary research. You never know what you are really getting, and I had a bad experience one time buying from a seed catalog that randomly appeared in my mailbox.
I also wouldn’t recommend buying off of Amazon or Ebay. It may work out, but ultimately you are taking a risk if you don’t buy from a reputable seed company.
These sources for buying seeds that I’ve discussed are not the only great sources for buying seed. Please comment below if your favorite seed supplier isn’t here and what you like about them! And make sure to read the comments below because you might learn something new.
If you’re looking for a guide on how to start your own seeds indoors, you can check out this post here.
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