The Best Places to Buy Seeds and Bulbs

Feb 2, 2018 by

The Best Places to Buy Seeds and Bulbs

Once upon a time, a co-worker of mine enjoyed free VIP tickets to a PGA tournament.  While he was there he filled out an interest card for a luxury Cadillac car.  He noted my six-figure income, which I didn’t have.  For months, I received emails and phone calls on both my work and personal emails and phones despite my repeated confessions of my obsession with the Geo Metro cult.

I decided to repay my coworker in kind.  He was a man’s man.  He worshiped pro sports and drank whiskey for breakfast.  I once witnessed him stuff a handful of warhead candies into his mouth at once, because he could.  I thought it would be fitting of his manliness to saturate his junk mail with gardening catalogs, focusing on flowers.  Within a few minutes online I  ordered him a plethora of gardening catalogs for free.  After a few weeks, the catalogs began to arrive at our workplace and did not stop.  I enjoyed my quiet revenge every day as yet another catalog graced his desk.

I’m not sure how he found out, but one morning after several months of catalog collecting, my coworker delivered them in mass to my desk.  I pushed the impressively heavy stack aside with the intention of throwing them away.  But later that day, I absent-mindedly picked up a catalog and started thumbing through it.  Dang.  It was kind of interesting.  I ended up taking most of them home and sifted through them.  And thus began my enjoyment of gardening catalogs.

Over the years I have been interested in gardening my enjoyment of catalogs has expanded to websites and brick and mortar stores.  After buying a few seeds and bulbs here and there, I have developed a few favorite sources that I’d like to share with you.

The Best Places to Buy Seeds and Bulbs

One of my favorite flowers are good old pansies.  I say ‘old’, but one of the reasons I enjoy them so much is because of the plethora of varieties, and they add new colors each year.  I love walking through the nearby commercial nursery and looking at the unending rows of pansies of all shapes and colors.  But then I go to the local gardening store and they have only one plain variety of seed.  It’s the same story at the local home improvement stores.  But I wanted to grow the kinds I saw at the commercial nursery.  So I got online and happened to come across swallowtailgardenseeds.com.

I was overwhelmed and excited to find 30+ varieties of pansies.  And not just pansies, they had hundreds of flowers with more varieties of each than I could have dreamed possible.  And after showing the site to Lauren, we both knew we were going to have a hard time deciding which seeds to buy.  It was like trying to decide which ice cream to buy while staring at all the flavors at the ice cream shop.  So we decided that we would independently go through the site and add what flowers we wanted to the cart.  After we had both gone through, we would look at the cart and whatever we had both ordered, we would buy.  It sounded great.  But it wasn’t.  To our surprise, out of many dozens of selections, only three had overlapped.  So much for that plan.  We let it sit for a couple of days but one late night while I couldn’t sleep, I impulsively decided to order the full cart.  It was over my desired budget by several times.  But I haven’t regretted it since.

The Best Places to Buy Seeds and Bulbs

Swallowtail Garden Seeds truly has a fantastic selection and they do a great job of presenting all the choices.  Plus, the prices are fair.  The order was complete and shipped quickly.  Each seed packet was well packaged and included simple and specific instructions.  Keep in mind that they also sell vegetable seeds but my glorious experience is limited to their flower selections.  When people see our prolific flower garden in front of the house, I let them know we started all of it by seed and that the seeds came from swallowtailgardenseeds.com.

Now for flower bulbs.  There are a bunch out there but I have come across two, that are actually one, and a great one at that.  The first is johnscheepers.com.  They have great selections of just about every flower bulb imaginable.  The website displays the varieties effectively and the prices are fair.  I have also experienced their great customer service when I made a special request to have my order shipped early so I could give my bulbs a ‘chill’ period before planting them in Arizona.  My order was at my doorstep within a few short days.

The Best Places to Buy Seeds and Bulbs

Now, the second site is a sister site called vanengelen.com.  It’s nearly the same site except that this site sells the exact same bulbs from the same fields but in bulk, and thus at an even cheaper rate.  But don’t mistake a cheaper price to mean cheaper quality.  They are the same company with the same high standards.

I like to order both hard copy catalogs, which are free.  I use the John Scheepers catalog for the pictures and then order from the Van Engelen catalog, which is void of photos, at the cheaper prices, assuming I’m ordering in bulk.  Even the names of the mixture selections are the same.  A word of advice though, be sure to get your order in as soon as possible as the demand for their quality bulbs can quickly surpass their production.

The Best Places to Buy Seeds and Bulbs

What about vegetable seeds?  Although there are many great seed catalogs, we enjoy going to our local garden store where we can buy seeds in bulk and talk to very knowledgeable employees.  Our store of choice is Anderson’s Seed and Garden.  The owner, Mark Anderson, is an expert in all things green and then some.  I enjoy having a source of gardening wisdom nearby who knows their stuff for the area we are in.  If you don’t have a favorite local gardening store or are simply curious, look at andersonseedandgarden.com.  They have loads of helpful information and great deals.

What’s that you say?  You’ve had good luck with another company?  Tell us about it!

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