3 details that are a must-have on seed packets

Each year, I buy seeds from multiple sources. I might not plant them all in one year but I keep them as long as they are viable.

As a result, this year I have a high number of zinnia seeds in my seed stash (and recently learned that four years seems to be the cut-off date for viability). As the season has advanced, I've been constantly referring to the seed packets to see what will grow well in which spots in the garden.

For example, I recently purchased specific varieties of orange and purple daylilies for the garden. Wouldn't it look great to have orange and purple zinnias to accompany them and extend the bloom season?

But I had a problem. I had two different varieties from two different companies, but only one seed packet listed how tall the plants would grow.

It would look silly to have 3-foot purple zinnias and 14-inch orange zinnias, right?

Give me all the details

Seed companies: When I am sowing seeds, I want certain information up front, such as:
  • How far in advance I should start the seeds (based on the last average frost date).
  • How deep to sow the seeds (or to surface sow).
  • How big the mature plant will be (height and width).
When I'm sowing seeds, I don't want to stop what I'm doing and get out my phone to google the plant variety. 

Over time, I've noticed that some companies are really good about sharing information about how to sow the seeds. And some even go beyond the basics and provide extensive information. One example is Botanical Interests. Owner Judy Seaborn* recently shared on the Cultivating Place podcast that Botanical Interests prides itself on providing extensive information on a seed packet (~7:44 mark). 

They make use of the inside portion of the seed packet to provide extensive info on the seed you are planting. (Talk about setting gardeners up for success!)

High Mowing Seeds, Renee's Garden Seeds and Johnny's Seeds also provide a good amount of growing information on their seed packets as well.

This year I have noticed that Baker Creek Seeds has provided more information on their seed packets.

Shown above is the same seed variety but from different years — 2016 on the left and 2019 on the right.

In 2016, the seed packet included a brief paragraph on the back (above left). This year, I noticed more growing information provided, including average seed sprouting time, ideal temperature, seed planting depth, seed spacing, frost hardiness and sun requirements. BUT I still had to look up how tall the seeds would grow, and found that info on a different seed website. I'm happy to see this trend toward providing more information, and hope they continue to add just a little more.

Gardeners — no matter what experience level — need information readily available to help make decisions about plants in the garden. Seed packets offer a unique opportunity to provide necessary growing information to set gardeners up for success.

*Judy is also one of the organizers of this year's Garden Bloggers Fling, which the podcast focused on.

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