Seed Facts

Seed Facts for Informed Buyers

Originally appeared at National Gardening Bureau

With the new year comes new hope: for better health, to achieve your resolutions, and for gardeners, a bigger and better garden!

That means that if you haven’t already finished your 2021 garden plans (good for you if you are one of those over-achievers!), then it’s time to do so now. Part of those plans might include ordering seeds and plants online. National Garden Bureau is here to help you with that process.

Gardening is at an all-time high right now, because COVID-19 put us in stay-at-home mode, and it looks like that will continue for the near future. For the millions of new gardeners out there as well as long-time gardeners and everyone in-between, we wanted to gather a few Seed Facts tips for you on how to successfully buy garden products online.

Maybe you’ve heard about the mysterious seed deliveries that occurred this summer all over North America. About 95% of the packages were shipped from China but were unlabeled and not packed in industry-standard, properly labeled envelopes. It became a national security risk because of the possibility of those seeds bringing in new diseases or noxious weeds if planted.

There was some evidence that these shipments were nothing more than a “brushing scam so since then, Amazon has made a statement that they will remove listings for live plants and seeds that are offered and fulfilled by residents or companies outside of North America.

Summary: Buy seeds and plants from known and trusted sources. If you receive unsolicited seed or plant shipments, DO NOT PLANT THEM.

Ready to Shop? 

Go to the “Shop Our Members” page on the NGB website. This select group of NGB’s trusted and reputable retail members is a safe way to buy either online or at your local garden retailer.

Did you know? There is not a seed shortage! - Seed Facts for Informed Buyers - National Garden Bureau
Seeds are packed annually for freshness - Seed Facts for Informed Buyers - National Garden Bureau

We offer these Seed Facts shopping tips when buying garden products online:

  1. Know the merchant and their reputation (NGB Members are a great place to start).
  2. Avoid offers that seem “too good to be true.”
  3. Make sure the site is secure (does the URL start with https and not just http?)
  4. Know or research the vendor, especially if going through a third party like Amazon.
Beginner Tip for the New Gardener

Seed Facts: Beginner Tips for online ordering of seeds and/or plants:

  • Ask around. Talk to your friends and other gardeners about what they buy and who they buy from.
  • Peruse the catalog or website. Get to know that company and what they specialize in. There is a huge variety of companies and each serves an important niche.
  • Know your limits or your garden’s limits. All experienced gardeners can tell you that buying too many seeds or plants is the most common problem. It’s like an addiction!
  • Buy seed now for fall too. Don’t buy just for spring because succession sowing is important for season-long harvest and there are wonderful vegetables like cabbage and kale that are great for fall plantings.
  • Note how many seeds are in each package and plan ahead. If you can use 25 of the same tomato variety, that’s great! You can always store leftovers for next year but be aware that the germination rate will decline slightly, even if properly stored. Maybe you want to share or swap seeds with a gardening friend? (Note: National Seed Swap Day is January 30, 2021)
  • Pay attention to growing zones and conditions. No one wants you disappointed by trying to grow something that simply won’t grow in your garden’s conditions.
  • Try something new! Step out of your comfort zone and try at least one new plant each year…you never know, it might be your favorite!
  • Order early if possible BUT PLEASE BE PATIENT. Seed companies are likely to experience delays in times of high demand so be aware of that company’s current timeline for shipping. They will be transparent. Sign up for or subscribe to that company’s communications to stay informed and up-to-date.
  • Keep records. Keep track of what you ordered, what you planted, what worked well, what didn’t work, which tastes you preferred, etc. Next year this time, you’ll be glad you did!

Do you have questions about buying seeds and plants and who to buy from? Post your questions in the comments below and we’ll answer them in a future blog post!

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