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Growing a plant from a seed is one of the most gratifying (and cheapest) ways to create a home garden. You can find seeds at your local garden center or hardware store. But dig a little deeper before simply picking up packets with pretty pictures, advises Debra LaGattuta, a Master Gardener and a member of The Spruce Gardening and Plant Care Review Board. For example, she recommends buying seed produced locally. "Seeds produced from parent plants grown in Florida might not thrive in the northern part of the country," she points out.
You shouldn't have to dig for details from an online retailer. "They should provide as much information as possible about the seed they are selling," LaGatutta says, "including a complete description of the plant or crop, preferred growing conditions, growth habits, mature height and width, time to germinate and harvest, and disease resistance."
To help ease your path to a gratifying garden, we took LaGatutta's advice and evaluated retailers for the quality of information they provide, as well as their delivery and return policies, and customer service.
Here are the best places to buy seeds for your garden online.
Specialty garden shop
High minimum price for free freight
Customer pays return freight unless defective
If you appreciate a company that focuses on quality, Eden Brothers sells seeds that are 100 percent pure, with no additives and fillers, and germination rates exceeding government standards. They have the largest variety of options in the U.S., from vegetable and heirloom seeds to organic seeds. You can contact their customer service team by phone during regular business hours for expert advice. Their website is user-friendly, with lots of information available, from how-to articles to bulb growth charts. You can sort seeds by color, planting season, and sowing method.
Eden Brothers takes 4 to 6 business days to process orders, plus the delivery time to get to your front door, and they do not offer expedited shipping. While shipping charges increase as your order total goes up, once you hit a $79 subtotal, the shipping is free. They take back unopened seeds within 15 days for a full refund, less shipping costs. Returns for defective or missing products can be 30 days from the date of receipt.
Can shop other decor
Can be found at other retailers
If you appreciate inspiring content, Terrain’s website and social media should motivate you to get gardening and tackle that next home project. They lack a large seed selection. Their seeds must be purchased as a kit, but these make great gifts because of the pretty packaging, which you could pair with any other specialty items in their shop. (They have a few shops and can often be found doing pop-ups at retailers such as Anthropologie.)
Shipping charges increase as your order subtotal goes up. The average order takes 24-48 hours to package, plus the delivery timeline. Regular delivery is 5 to 8 days, but you have the option to pay for express or overnight delivery. They do not accept returns on plant products.
Free shipping on eligible products
Can shop all gardening needs
Stores in many communities
Only basic options
When it comes to buying seeds, Home Depot is the no-fuss, affordable option. Although they don’t offer many additional features, the seed options are well-priced, and you can purchase single packs or their top-rated variety packs. They lack a large variety but can fulfill the basic seed options.
You can expect big box store-level expertise, which we believe is hit-and-miss, depending on who is working that day. You can shop online where you can read reviews, and there is a live chat, but it is not a physical person on the other end. They offer free shipping on most smaller gardening products, but if you prefer to shop in person, there is most likely a Home Depot within driving distance. The main perk is you can grab everything you need to plan your seeds, like a garden hoe or a seed starting tray kit.
Shop by region
100 percent success guarantee
A family-owned company, American Meadows has been in business for over 30 years and prides itself in being the trusted gardening partner—for the experienced client, to the beginner just starting out. The company has a large selection of flower seeds and focuses on growing flowers that are good for the region. They have an online chat, but it does not provide instant replies. They say they reply within the day, but you can also contact them via phone for assistance.
Most orders ship within 2 business days. When you check out, they provide an estimated date to decide if the timeline works for you before you finalize your purchase. The company promises a 100 percent success rate, saying they replace or refund your order if anything fails to grow in your garden.
Strong company history
Burpee is another retailer that started from humble beginnings and was the first research-based seed company in the U.S. to improve carrots, cabbage, celery, and lima beans. They offer a wide variety of seeds, and you can also purchase gardening supplies, while you're at it. The site has detailed information on each product such as how to grow, tips, key attributes, and when to grow. It’s great for those looking to be self-sufficient in teaching themselves how to be expert gardeners.
If you are only looking to purchase a few seeds, they offer a flat $3.95 on all seed packet orders, which is low compared with other retailers, and the company ships within a few days. Burpee stands behind their products and accepts a seed return within the year. But the customer pays return shipping.
Stores in many communities
Can shop for other garden supplies
Lack of expert knowledge
Lack of specialty seeds
If you're looking for affordable options, and aren't in the market for anything out of the ordinary, Lowe’s is a great choice. They have most of the basic seeds you seek but lack specialty options. You can shop online, but a store is probably nearby. You can also return seeds, either in person or by mail, within 90 days of purchasing with a copy of your receipt.
We suggest doing your research before buying. The staff may not be experts on which seeds to purchase and specific gardening techniques.
Seeds of Change
Work with schools and kids
Seeds offered in collections or individual packets
Learning Center on website
Basic seed options
Seeds of Change has a powerful mission behind everything they do. For every item you buy, they plant nutritious seeds through school growing programs across the country. They use their resources to create opportunities for kids through helping FoodCorps service, which creates a culture of health in schools.
Although they don’t have an extensive range of options, they have all the basics covered, from vegetable and herb seeds to flower seeds. You can also purchase collections of seeds for specific uses such as the herbal tea pack of four they sell. The website has a Learning Center section with a few articles and videos that touch on gardening tips. But they do not have extensive customer service options.
Seed Savers Exchange
Built on preserving heirloom seeds
Easy to shop online
Free shipping over $250
The first thing you notice about Seed Savers Exchange is the heart and soul behind the company to save and share heirloom seeds. A not-for-profit organization, they offer a variety of seed options from vegetables, flowers, and herbs. They ship nationwide and offer free shipping on orders over $250. They also have partnered with hundreds of retail locations across the U.S. and Canada.
The company relies on its network of people and sales to keep its mission going. Memberships are donation-based, tax deductible and are offered on an annual basis. They have great customer service, with an on-site section with recipes, seed information, and a blog. If you happen to be in Iowa, stop by their farm in Decorah, in the northeast part of the state. There. you find a visitor center, gift and garden store, hiking trails, and display gardens.
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Large selection of heirloom seeds
Good search functionality
Can only contact via email
Baker Creek was started in 1998 and has grown into North America’s largest heirloom seed company. If you’re looking for a place to shop for heirloom seeds online, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds has a large selection and ships all orders free. Their site is easy to shop; the search bar at the top pulls up great recipes, how to grow the seed you select, and links to relevant blog posts based on your search.
If you get a chance to stop by their headquarters in Mansfield, Missouri (northeast of Branson), you can peruse gardens, greenhouses, and a pioneer village; browse and buy at the seed store; and dine at the restaurant. They also host festivals throughout the year for seed enthusiasts. It’s important to note that they can’t be reached via phone; all inquiries must go through email.
Johnny's Selected Seeds
100 percent employee-owned
High shipping minimums
The company can confidently say they have passionate, dedicated employees because in 2006, Johnny’s Selected Seeds was sold to its employees through an employee stock ownership plan. They sell various seeds from vegetables, fruits, flowers, herbs, and organic options. They offer free standard shipping on orders over $200, or you can pick up at their location in Winslow, Maine, in the central part of the state.
Johnny’s maintains an on-site seed lab that sets and maintains strong germination requirements, so you can be sure you receive seeds that are fresh, vital, and of superior quality. Their site is easy to shop, and they even have a Quick Order section, where you can search for products and add them to your cart. We love the section on their site called the Grower’s Library, where they have set out clear, accurate, timely information to excel as a grower.
Fun, detailed packaging
No unique seed options
Another popular seed company, Botanical Interests was created with a desire to provide more information on seed packets. You find information on each seed packet that includes art, garden history, landscape ideas, organic gardening know-how, recipes, and fun facts. You can even find a section on their site that tells you how to read their packaging.
You can find various flowers, herbs, and vegetables, organic options, and shop garden products such as gloves and pruners. They also have a section on their site with 20 seed collections that make great gifts. They offer free shipping on orders over $150. Otherwise, rates increase as the order amount goes up.
Pinetree Garden Seeds
Quick packing time
Bare-bones site compared with others
If you need seeds fast and there’s no nearby local store to shop, Pinetree Garden Sheds ships your seeds in 24 hours or less. They are a family owned and operated business located in rural eastern Maine, with its main goal to offer low prices on quality seeds. If you spend over $150, they offer free shipping.
When you click on the different seed varieties, you find information about how to plant and when to harvest. You also can order garden supplies, spices and teas, and crafts, and they even sell home beer and cider kits. Pinetree guarantees everything they sell for 90 days from shipment, and offers credit for orders under $5, or a refund on orders over $5.
Kitazawa Seed Company
Large Asian variety
Can buy assortments
Limited flower options
If you are looking to grow Asian vegetables, buy from Kitazawa Seed Co, which has been in business for over 100 years. The company proudly offers over 500 seed varieties of the highest quality. You can shop for vegetable, herb, flower, and microgreen seeds, and specialty seeds such as pak choi and sesame. They also have assortments such as Mexican Cuisine Garden, and Stir Fry Garden, with a combined selection of seven gourds and greens.
You can contact customer service during the week via phone, or email anytime. Orders can be placed online and shipped to your house. The shipping charge is waived on orders over $45.
What to Look For in an Online Seed Retailer
Ensuring you are prepared and have the supplies you need to start planting your seeds is the first step. Some online options take close to 2 weeks to deliver, with processing and shipping time included, so make sure the retailer you select can deliver in time for the growing season. If you need last-minute options, you may have to opt for a local big-box store. Some retailers offer expedited options that come at a cost.
Each retailer we recommend has a different return policy, ranging from 15 days to 30 days, with the original receipt needed. Outside of big-box store brands, most do not accept opened seed packages. The smaller, garden-specific specialty retailers usually have shorter return timelines, and you often have to cover the return freight if you change your mind.
Customer Service Options
Some websites are easy to maneuver and offer a lot of product specs that can be useful in deciding where to purchase seeds. Some sites allow you to search by region to determine which seeds are best for planting, based on climate. Most specialty garden retailers have this option if you are interested in speaking to someone who can give you expert advice on what seeds to buy and when to plant.
When is the best time to shop for seeds?
Debra LaGattuta, a Master Gardener and a member of The Spruce Gardening and Plant Care Review Board, recommends always buying fresh seed. “Make sure the retailer is selling seed that was packaged for sowing in the current year,” she says. “Fresh seeds have a higher rate of germination.” Furthermore, she adds, it’s best not to wait. “Online vendors should have their websites updated in winter,” she says. “Seed catalogs start arriving in winter, usually in January. Don’t wait too long to purchase—the seeds for popular varieties sell out quickly. Ordering early makes sure the type of seed you want to grow is available.”
When is the best time to plant seeds outdoors?
The best time to plant seeds outdoors depends on the climate you live in and what you plant. It may make sense to separate your assortment into those that cannot handle any frost and those resistant to frost. If you are in a cooler climate, some seeds need to be started indoors first.
When is the best time to start seeds indoors?
The best time to plant seeds indoors is 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date. This is a good way to get a head start on the plant maturity before moving them outside. The seed packaging also gives you an idea of when to plant seeds indoors, and it is important to note that not all seeds need to be started indoors.
How do you store seeds?
Once you have purchased seeds, maximize their shelf life. Most important: ensure the seeds are dry before storing them, and that they are kept in a cool spot between 40 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. (A dark, cool cupboard works.) Keep seeds in airtight containers such as glass jars or seed envelopes. You can even add silica gel packets that act as a defense against moisture.
How long do seeds last?
Seed is usually viable for 3 years. The older the seed is, the lower the germination rate, but it is possible to grow some seeds, such as beans, that are up to 10 years old. To keep seeds vibrant, store them well. “Until I'm ready to sow them,” LaGattuta reports, “I store brand-new seeds and seeds left over from the previous year in a sealed plastic baggie that I place in a desk drawer, where the seeds remain cool and dark.”
Before planting seeds, you can test if they are viable by placing them in a container of water and letting them sit for 15 to 20 minutes. If the seeds sink, they are still good to plant; if they float, there is a high chance they will not sprout.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was researched and written by Deanna McCormack, a contributor for The Spruce since 2017. She has tested and reviewed online shopping options for several years in the home and outdoors category. To select the best products for this roundup, she examined each retailer, poring through their sites. We also contacted Debra LaGattuta, a Master Gardener and a member of The Spruce Gardening and Plant Care Review Board, for expert insight.