By BETHANY HAYES
Waiting for spring to arrive feels like torture for those of us who can’t garden year-round. In my opinion, the next best thing to getting your hands in the dirt is reading and searching through gardening catalogs.
Catalogs are an excellent resource of plant information that advertise available seeds for purchase. As you dig in for winter, you might want to order a few of the best gardening catalogs so you figure out what you want to plant in the spring.
At the start of the new year, I look forward to receiving gardening catalogs in the mail. I spend hours looking at the different seed options, plotting, and planning my future garden beds. There are many fantastic seed companies out there that send their customers free (or inexpensive) seed catalogs. Let’s go through a few of my favorites.
The 14 Best Gardening Catalogs
1. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Without a doubt, one of my favorite gardening catalogs is from Baker Creek. Their catalog is colorful, loaded down with gorgeous photos and old-time heirloom seed varieties.
You also can find unusual edibles, live plants, and unique melons to add to your garden. This extensive catalog has stunning photography for garden inspiration. It’s hard not to love the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog.
2. Territorial Seed Company
If you want a gardening catalog with plenty of vegetable seed options, the Territorial Seed Company’s catalog has fantastic varieties of both heirloom seeds and hybrids. Their catalog for the new year becomes available in late December or early January.
Territorial Seed Company began over 30 years ago as a privately owned company by Tom and Julie Johns. Over the past decades, their company has exponentially grown, and it’s now considered one of the top seed companies for heirloom plants.
Are you a flower lover? If so, Breck’s is a company that started in Holland in 1818, and they’ve continued to offer some of the broadest bulb choices in the world. Breck’s started as a tulip and bulb company, but they also ship other varieties of flowers. Additionally, you can find a wide range of herbs available from Breck’s gardening catalog.
4. Annie’s Heirloom Seeds
Annie’s sells over 600 varieties of non-GMO, organic, heirloom seeds. All of their seeds are heirlooms that are at least 50 years old. They have a full line of certified organic seeds, as well.
They sell both flower and vegetable seeds, along with some herbs. Customers rave about the super fast shipping, which is crucial when you’re excited to get started.
Their catalog includes what they call “Annie’s Gardens,” which are pre-made gardens to take the guesswork out of planning your garden. They also have listed favorites to help you if you aren’t too sure what you need to pick.
5. Gurney’s Seed and Nursery
Gurney’s started in 1866, and they’ve provided orchard and gardening lovers with top-quality plants and seeds for dozens of years. The catalog showcases a wide variety of vegetables, fruit trees and bushes, perennials, roses, trees, and more.
They also offer supplies for gardeners. Gurney’s doesn’t just focus on heirloom seeds; they sell hybrids as well, so be aware if you’re looking for heirloom plants.
6. Seed Savers Exchange
Seed Savers Exchange is dedicated to conserving biodiversity with a collection of over 20,000 different varieties of heirloom and open-pollinated vegetable and herb seeds. They have over 1,000 types of heritage apple trees alone! They have an underground freezer vault where they store thousands of seeds.
You can check out the Seed Savers exchange program where gardeners can swap seeds that they don’t need. They also have a physical store where you can find thousands of seeds for sale.
7. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
Southern Exposure stands out because, unlike the other companies that send out glossy printed catalogs, they send their catalog printed on newsprint. It’s full of text and lacks pictures. Most of them are hand-drawn, color pictures of specific plants.
Don’t let that fool you into thinking that this isn’t a top-quality catalog because it is. Southern Exposure sells heirloom, organic, open-pollinated vegetable seeds. The information shared on the pages about each plant is valuable, and they also provide detailed growing guides for each type of vegetable. That’s more details than you will receive in most catalogs.
Overall, if you’re looking for the best gardening catalogs for vegetable seeds, Southern Exposure needs to be on your list. They focus on heritage, flavor, disease resistance, and top-quality plants.
8. Annie’s Annuals and Perennials
Annie’s specializes in rare and unusual annual and perennial plants. You can find cottage garden heirlooms as well as native wildflowers. This nursery sells bulbs, flowers, grasses, herbs, shrubs, sunflowers, trees, and some vegetable plants.
9. White Flower Farm
White Flower Farm is a family-owned nursery located in Litchfield, Connecticut, that started in 1950. This nursery sells a range of ornamental plant varieties and delivers its plants all over the United States. They specialize in daffodils, tulips, perennials, shrubs, and specialty plants. You also can find gardening supplies and containers.
10. Bluestone Perennials
If you’re looking for perennials, look no further than Bluestone. Their catalog is perfect for new and experienced gardeners alike. Not only is their photography stunning, but their catalog is easy to understand while still providing all of the information an experienced gardener wants to know. They list genus and species, hardiness zones, moisture needs, and average sizes.
Bluestone Perennials sells perennial plants, flowering shrubs, bulbs, grasses, and groundcovers. They don’t sell vegetable plants, so if you’re looking for veggies, pick another gardening catalog.
11. Prairie Moon Nursery
If you want to plant natives in your garden, Prairie Moon should be your go-to resource. They sell a wide variety of wildflowers and grasses, along with all kinds of information about the native plants and gardening tips. Prairie Moon sells most seeds by the packet, but you can purchase some in bulk packaging. They also have bare-root plants and potted plants for some species.
They’re mainly known for their multiple varieties of milkweeds. Prairie Moon sells a dozen different species of milkweed seeds that cover most of the country.
12. Park Seed
Here is another gardening catalog that is popular amongst gardeners. Park Seed has been celebrating being in business for 150 years, publishing its first catalog in 1868. They sell a great selection of both flower and vegetable seeds, along with many herb plants.
You’ll notice that their prices are affordable, perfect for those who are gardening on a budget. The seed packets contain plenty of options, and the seeds are fresh. They have top-rated germination rates from their seeds, so you can expect to get plenty of seedlings out of them. You also can purchase live plants from Park Seed.
13. Lee Valley
While Lee Valley might not sell plants and seeds, they make up for it by selling a variety of gardening supplies. Their catalog is full of unique, useful, and affordable tools that might really surprise you. Some of their tools are things that you might not have ever seen before!
All gardeners need the right tools and gadgets to get the job done right. Lee Valley sells excellent quality tools with the best customer service!
14. Fedco Seeds
The last gardening catalog on our list is Fedco Seeds, which is a seed cooperative. That means it’s owned by gardeners and employees rather than an individual. Fedco specializes in cold hardy seeds, so for those of you who live in a cold climate or the Northeast, Fedco is the catalog for you. Each year, they look through hundreds of varieties, picking the best to include in their catalogs.
Many Seed Catalogs are Online
Don’t think that these are the only seed catalogs available for you. Nowadays, as shipping prices increase, many nurseries have cut out the cost of sending catalogs to customers. It can be disappointing, but don’t let it upset you.
Many nurseries now offer PDF catalogs that you can download onto your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. It may not be the same as holding a catalog in your hand and flipping the pages, but you still get to look through the pages of seeds and dream about what you will grow in a few months.
The Final Thoughts
Gardening catalogs might not be your first thought for reading material, but they’re one of the best options out there for any gardener. Searching and dreaming about the garden beds that you’ll create in the spring helps the winter blues disappear a bit as you wait for warmer weather.
With thousands of garden nurseries in the United States, you’re bound to be able to find plenty of choices for the best gardening catalogs. From vegetable plants to perennials, you’ll find a catalog that fits all of your gardening dreams.
This educational blog is a series of informative articles from the Penn State Master Gardeners volunteers plus news concerning the group and their activities. For more information, click here.