Top 10 Tips for Seed Shopping from Catalogs

10 tips to help you make the best seed purchases.

January 5, 2012

Seed shopping by mail can certainly liven up a dreary winter’s day. These guidelines will help you make the best seed choices for your garden:

1. Peruse a variety of seed catalogs to compare selection and prices.


2. Start seed shopping in winter so you can work out the details of your seed-sowing and transplanting schedule.

3. Keep all seed catalogs for use as reference once you begin planting.

4. Look for catalogs that specialize in plants that grow well in your specific region of the country.

5. Weigh the amount of variety you want versus the price of the seed packets. Small seed packets of individual plants are reasonably priced but only contain one type of plant. Seed mixtures give you many types of plants in a single packet but usually cost significantly more.

6. Realize that the number of days to maturity quoted in catalogs is an estimate. The actual number of days may be slightly different for your area.

7. Decide between hybrids and open-pollinated cultivars. Hybrids may produce earlier harvests and higher yields, but open-pollinated cultivars may taste better, produce over a longer season, and usually cost less.

8. Watch out for seeds that are treated with synthetic chemical fungicide. When ordering, specify untreated seeds.

9. Choose cultivars that have qualities that are important to you, such as plant size, habit, and tolerance of your soil conditions.

10. Look for All-America Selections because these tend to grow and produce well in a variety of conditions.