How to Get Free Seeds for Your Garden

Score Free Seeds for Your Garden

A man planting pumpkin seeds.

Roger Spooner / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images

If you're a gardener or interested in getting started with gardening, you'll want to read below to find out how to get free seeds. Saving your own seeds, swapping seeds, and becoming a member of a seed library, can significantly cut down the cost of creating your gardens.

Occasionally companies will mail out free seeds to those who request them or as part of a promotional campaign. The best way to find out about these free seeds is to follow your favorite seed companies on social media.

Free seeds sometimes come when you request a seed catalog. There are dozens of free catalogs available that also whet your app with ideas for ​planning your own garden.

Save Your Own Seeds

Possibly the easiest way to get free seeds is to just save your own.  But simply leaving them in a bag in your basement or garage is not the way to handle it. Some seeds aren't suitable for storing.

Take a look at these resources to learn more about seed saving:

  • Seed Sovereignty's Guide to Seed Saving (PDF): This is a detailed guide that gives suggestions for extracting and storing seeds in just over 20 pages.
  • Seed Saving 101: This is a great resource for beginners that takes you through deciding what seeds to save, harvesting the seeds, and tips for storing them.
  • Saving Vegetable Seeds: A guide to saving vegetable seeds. It starts with some information on basic types of vegetable seeds and then moves on to how to harvest them and how to store them. A guide to planting those seeds when the time comes is included.
  • How to Save Seeds: Includes details on how to store seeds from peas and beans, tomatoes and peppers, lettuce, and biennial plants. Basic information on how to save seeds is included.

Use a Seed Exchange to Get Free Seeds

Exchanging seeds with others is another way to get free seeds. You can give up the seeds you don't want and get the seeds you do want. This is a win-win situation because you both get the seeds you're after in a barter that doesn't include a cash exchange.

Seed exchanges are accomplished in two ways. You can meet with someone physically to swap seeds or communicate via phone, email, or a website to set up a long-distance trade.

  • Seed Savers Exchange (United States): Search or browse vegetables, fruits, berries, nuts, grains, herbs, spices, and flower seeds to see what's available. Although most of these seeds are free, you'll be expected to pay for shipping and handling.
  • Houzz Seed Exchange: Much like other seed exchange websites, this is a forum where members can post requests for exchanges. Communication can be done publicly or through private messages. Some posts offer information on local meetups so you don't have to send and receive the seeds in the mail. You can filter these forum posts by city or plant.
  • Seeds of Diversity (Canada): Seeds of Diversity is the premier seed exchange website serving Canada. Their seed library has over 2,900 seed varieties that are regionally adapted. Also included are rare seed varieties. There are instructions for sending your seeds into the seed exchange if you would enjoy helping out with the project.
  • Seed Savers Exchange (Australia): Australia also has a seed exchange offering free seeds. There's a place on the website where you can find all the local exchanges in your area. It's a great way to get free seeds, share your rare seeds, and even meet new people who share you interests.

There may be local seed exchanges that you won't find on these websites. Do a general online search to find one near you. Try searching Facebook for seed exchange groups, or a "seed swap" event in your local area.

Get Free Seeds Through Seed Libraries

A seed library is similar to a book library in that you "borrow" seeds and then return an equal or greater number of seeds after the plant has grown. It's basically the same thing as a seed exchange except that you don't need to provide seeds upfront. This method is particularly helpful if you're just starting out with gardening.

Ttry searching for a local seed library to find one near you. The Seed Library Social Network may be a good starting point. You can find locations on a map to see all the different libraries that support borrowing seeds.