Created: 23-10-2010
Last update: 01-01-2022
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Despite the heirloom boom starting at the end of last century, a number of tomato types and other edibles I've mentioned will not be available from garden centres, even as seed. A garden centre typically stocks a few varieties guaranteed to sell. Growers of rare and unusual plants are a niche market, typically catered to by a few seed specialists that carry a very wide range, and plant lovers who trade at seed exchanges. The specialists can only really turn a profit if they reach a wide enough customer base, and I suspect that said heirloom boom was made possible mostly by the increasing number of internet users. Therefore, pretty much all seed sellers listed have a website. They will be listed by country, since, although seeds can be shipped around the world these days, different countries have their own peculiarities when it comes to importing and exporting seeds. I haven't done business with all of them; some I've bought seeds from, others I've included for their interesting range of seeds.

Update 2022: Due to Brexit, it may be impossible to buy seeds from companies in the UK unless you live there. Due to Trump's effort to sabotage the US Postal Service in an attempt to win the 2020 election (and the postmaster Trump installed, is still in charge), it is unwise to buy anything by mail order from the USA even if you do live there. I've also delisted eBay because of its unholy union with PayPal, which in Europe has to conform to banking regulations, but in the USA, does not, and has randomly seized sellers' money in the past. Canadian companies tend to sell to the USA but not to Europe, even if they did before; because, as always, seeds ordered from abroad may be confiscated at the border.

I've also decided to scrap all mention of eBay sellers, since i. eBay entered into an unholy union with PayPal several decades ago, ii. after two US presidents who wanted to create a dictatorial regime, the second even attempting a coup to stay in power, I try to stay away from anything American (and yes, I know there are eBay sites for different countries) and iii. eBay is as prone to fraud as PayPal and not very nice to sellers, either. There are seed shops that started out on eBay before setting up their own webshop, so as a last resort, you could always look for seeds on eBay. Etsy offers seeds too, although I've never bought from Etsy, so can't say anything about it.

The Netherlands

Why not start with the home base? Although the seed sellers listed use Dutch and don't always translate to English, they can be useful sources. Selling rare seeds in the Netherlands is a thankless task because most of the Dutch population is well suited to the garden centre approach, being terrified of making their garden look too different from the neighbour's. To enlighten these horticultural ignorami, I've listed an amateur (in the sense of: "dedicated hobbyist") who offers, in small quantities and for a token amount of money, seeds ranging from the ordinary to "so rare even the specialists don't have it". The Netherlands is fairly laid-back about importing and exporting seeds, since there is no fragile ecosystem here to protect from invasive species. In the Netherlands and any other EU country, payment is best done by bank transfer; the less secure methods of PayPal and credit card are also current.

Vreeken's Zaden

This is the Dutch answer to Chiltern Seeds, although, being in the Netherlands, it works together with Thompson & Morgan and sells seeds from British, German and even Russian seed companies - especially tomato seeds often come in German and Russian packets. It also sells seeds from Cruydt-hoeck, a small Dutch company inspired by Chiltern Seeds, which used to have its own catalogue (now treasured by me; this company introduced me to my first heirloom tomato) but no longer sells directly, instead using specialty shops like Vreeken's for distribution. Whatever seed didn't come in packets is put by the owner and his crew into self-printed, laminated (to keep the seeds viable) paper packets with a picture on the front and instructions on the back. The webshop carries mostly seeds, but also tubers (especially many types of potato), bulbs, a small but choice collection of plants (mostly fruit and/or herbs, especially many types of strawberry and grape) selected to do well in the Dutch soil and climate, growing sets for various mushrooms, gardening supplies, and books. Having discovered that the real shop is close to where I used to live, I preferred to go straight to the physical location, which is smallish and yet chock full of different seeds, divided into annuals, biennials/perennials, vegetables (as many heirlooms as the shop owner can find), and smaller categories like conservatory plants and herbs, the latter occupying its own little seed rack next to the shelves of cocopeat bricks that I stock up on regularly. The shop owner has a soft spot for pumpkins and squashes - there are more different types of pumpkin/squash seeds than of any other vegetable - and though he mostly buys his seeds, he also finds time to grow and improve strains himself. There may be another shop like this in the Netherlands, but if so, I don't know about it.

De Bolderik Wilde Bloemzaden

I've never ordered from this company, but looked it up as possible alternative when Cruydt-hoeck stopped selling to end customers. At the time it was just called De Bolderik and offered organically grown flower and vegetable seeds. These days, the selection has shrunk down to Dutch wildflowers and wildflower mixes, where the mixes sometimes include species not offered separately. Included for anyone specifically looking for wildflower seeds.


Once a paper catalogue, then a bulk seed distributor, Cruydt-hoeck started a webshop with a smaller but still exclusive range of seeds for companies and private buyers, then shrank its seed range back to native species. As a specialty webshop, it's a bit pricey. This seller delivers to the Netherlands and Belgium - interested buyers in other countries should inquire - and shipping within the Netherlands is 5 euro for orders under 5 euro. Payment is by iDEAL (Dutch telebanking system) or bank transfer. The seeds I ordered were promptly delivered in either "commercial" jackets (picture, description, some germination info) or a labelled standard Cruydt-hoeck packet with a pen-and-ink drawing of plants on the front, inside a corrugated cardboard envelope, with invoice and cards offering subscriptions to gardening magazines.

I was undecided whether to put this on the seed sellers page or in the list of interesting sites on the next page, but it does sell seeds, however few (clearly, I've been spoiled by all these exclusive seed sites, because it offers enough kinds of seed to please the average Dutch gardener) and mainly of exotics. However: its strength lies in sowing and gardening accessories. This is the first Dutch seller I've found of woven plastic planters and flower pouches in several shapes and sizes. I ordered with my usual lack of restraint, and paid by bank transfer, the other two options being iDEAL (a Dutch system for payment through telebanking) and PayPal. Delivery was very prompt, and as the seller was just having a sale, I got a pruning knife as a gift. This is also the place to go to for personalized gifts like seed packets with your own text printed on them.

Diana's mooie moestuin (Diana's beautiful vegetable patch)

This is a hobbyist site full of information, that also used to sell seeds from an annual "seed list" to fellow-hobbyists. As the seed list ended somewhere after 2013, I should remove the site's link from this list, but after Brexit and the ban on importing seeds from both the US and the UK, the site owner made a helpful list linking to her favourite seed sites, most of which are based in the EU and still deliver to the Netherlands.

Belevenissen van een tuinkabouter

A huge hobbyist site, with a garden diary, tips&tricks and a separate webshop with as many categories as Vreeken: this website owner takes her mission to spread the gardening gospel very seriously. Samples of the seeds I've bought here: Passiflora edulis "Albinia", Rubus erytrocaldus, Jacaranda mimosifolia, Podreana ricasoleana, Coccinia grandis, Lactuca sativa var. crispa "Limestone bibb", Lycopersicum lycopersicon "Pink cherry", Cosmos sulphureus "Firework mix", Iris sanguinea "Kamayama". Although the informative part of the website has separate Dutch and English pages, the webshop is bilingual. Seeds are 35 or 40 eurocents per packet plus variable shipping cost, and the packet might be very small, maybe two seeds if the seeds are big, but the seeds are in a folded little cellophane envelope taped to a piece of paper on which is printed a picture of the plant and some information, so I know what to do with the seed when it arrives. That there are few seeds as compared to the huge packets bought in seed shops isn't a problem to me, as these are "sample" quantities, enough to see if I can even get a particular plant to grow, and said huge packets are often far too big for Dutch gardens and leave me with a lot of surplus seed moping in the packet while slowly losing its viability - what a waste! I went on such a shopping spree that the webshop balked, but fortunately I'd collected the plant names I wanted in a text file, and was able to mail the list directly to the website owner. Payment is by PayPal if ordering through the webshop, by bank transfer otherwise. Shoppers are urged to read the instructions first.

(There is an English site, too.)

This Dutch webshop was one of the search results for the obscure tomato variety "Orange Rose Quartz". With a modest range but aiming to bring more diversity to the Dutch seed market at very reasonable prices, it offers a surprising range of tomatoes. That the site owners are pepper enthusiasts is clear from the categorization: vegetables, herbs, peppers, annuals, biennials, perennials, flower mixes, exotics, sowing/gardening accessories; and a list of seeds suited to square foot gardening. Helpfully, every catalogue entry includes cultivation instructions. Delivery aims to be very fast but is only to a number of countries in Europe, including the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK; payment is by bank transfer, different online banking solutions like the Dutch iDeal, PayPal, or credit card. Seeds are delivered in ziplock bags, or paper bags with the ziplock bag inside, with a picture, the packaging date and brief cultivation instructions printed on them in a small font. A nice touch: seed companies may add free seeds to an order, but in this case, the ordering page let me know I was entitled to one free pack of seeds and let me choose from a little drop-down list.

Anchillique's Seed Shop

When I first saw this pepper seed webshop, I was struck by the funny descriptions in what I assume was Dutch. Listing it as part of the 2022 update, I saw only English descriptions and a notice that translations are still in progress, so it seems the site has gone full anglophone. I have no experience with Anchillique's, but it was warmly recommended in a pepper-growing forum thread.

Daps Seeds

Daps Seeds is a labour of love, selling ecologically grown, rare and/or heirloom tomato seeds at a deliberately low price to make them available to as wide an audience as possible. The sellers describe their tomatoes in detail, including the date the seeds were collected, but do warn that cross-pollination may happen, and they cannot accept returns if seeds are not true to type; nor will they be responsible, in case of international orders, for seed confiscated at the border, but they do have the option of sending seed by certified mail to hopefully ensure its arrival. Payment is by PayPal or bank transfer. When I ordered, Daps sent confirmation and date-of-dispatch emails; the order arrived in a big paper envelope. The seeds were in ziplock bags inside printed paper seed packets.


The Netherlands and Belgium are like the USA and Canada: too close to each other to not pass stuff across the border. No matter what their international shipping policy, Dutch and Belgian companies are bound to ship to each other. To make things easier, Dutch and Flemish - one of the two languages spoken in Belgium - are roughly similar.

Badskin's Garden

"We ship worldwide", this tomato and pepper seed site confidently announces on its main page. It accepts many different forms of payment and has many tomatoes, including Belgian heirlooms, and a lot of especially the rare and showy peppers, the most showy ones being gathered in big "superdeal" packets. Having ordered before Brexit, and not being directly affected by it anyway, I chose delivery by certified mail, and the parcel, a sturdy little cardboard box, was delivered almost instantly by DPD. The seeds were in ziplock bags labelled with name and "packed for" date. Sadly the descriptions are not on the site itself, but on FaceBook.

Vertiloom Vertical Heirloom Cultivars

Selling a wide range of peppers and tomatoes exclusively, this Belgian company has a Dutch, French and English version of its webshop and accepts euro, British pound and US and Canadian dollar, so although I haven't ordered from them, they seem very confident of being able to deliver to countries that are currently being shut out by the EU.

Other EU countries

One result of Brexit has been that Dutch gardening enthusiasts are turning to other EU countries, mainly France and Germany, for seeds. The EU, whose policies are, after all, shaped by business interests, is cracking down on heirloom varieties, with both France and Germany taking legal action against, or putting legal constraints on, the sale of tomato seeds. Like the Netherlands, the EU is fairly relaxed about seed import and export, especially between member countries, as long as it doesn't hurt agro-industrial interests.

fesaja-versand: exotische Saatgut-Raritäten & Pflanzen aus aller Welt

I used to know this seller as Cofusi's Saatgut on eBay before the webstore was closed and the new webshop was opened. What did I buy here: tomato seeds, related seeds (tomatillo, small tree tomato) and a bag of perlite. The webshop sells "warm weather" plants, which covers both exotics and the many tomato types listed, and supplies for these plants, like perlite to germinate seeds in, growlamps, and heating mats. At the time, I hung drooling over its tomato listing, each name accompanied by a picture of at least one whole tomato and one cut in two lying against a ruler to show the size. Later, I also surfed through the pepper (hot types only) and exotics lists. This is the site where I first ran into the ridiculous rule that tomato types without a certain seal of approval can only be sold as "grow for decoration only". But, as the seller warned: prolonged exposure to these tomatoes can lead to dissatisfaction with supermarket tomatoes! Nudge nudge, wink wink. This, in its eBay webstore days, was the closest-to-home source of tomato seed before I discovered Vreeken's Zaden and Tomatenhahm. Seeds are sent in stickered ziplock bags with cultivation instructions, payment is by bank transfer, PayPal or any other alternative that doesn't cost the seller. The site is completely in German and includes a FAQ on how to germinate seeds of various exotics.

Magic Garden Seeds

A bilingual German/English website. Quoting its own description: "Magic Garden Seeds is a small company based in Bavaria Germany, specialized in ethnobotanical seeds, rare and unusual plants. We deliver seed worldwide. We sell only open-pollinated (non-hybrid) varieties (heirloom seeds). That means, you can save the seeds year after year." Not terribly many seeds, an heirloom tomato or two, but wat better place to buy mandrake, belladonna and all the stuff witches used to smoke? It also offers all the seeds you need for a simple yet interesting vegetable patch, such as pignut, wild rocket, purple carrot and welsh onion. Seeds are sent in ziplock bags big enough for the label plus instructions to fit inside. Credit cards are accepted, sending money by mail is an option.

Reinhards Tomaten

This site used to be hosted by Lycos before moving to new, almost ad-free (ads appear when licking a dead link) webspace. The direct link to the subsidiary list of available tomatoes and other vegetables, handled by Manfred Hahm-Hartmann and known as "Tomatenhahm", is now here. When I first ran into these two combined sites, the number of tomato varieties listed on Tomatenhahm was 600; four years later, it was 1000. Reinhard Kraft, passionate tomato grower, seed collector and breeder of new or improved varieties, is known on either side of the Atlantic, and just as he grows the newest strains developed by Brad Gates, so his own "Reinhard's Goldkirsche" is popping up in American webshops. On the side, he grows grapes and unusual and/or heirloom cucurbits, carrots, potatoes, pulses, and relatives of the tomato like eggplants, hot and sweet peppers, and the many different types and varieties of physalis and garden huckleberry. He must have acres and acres of greenhouses and fields to grow all these crops in. His website is huge, because it has a photo gallery of all tomato varieties he grows plus a number of his other crops. The site is completely in German: the links section has links to German tomato pages and other sites that sell heirloom seeds. To order anything from Tomatenhahm, send an email (in German) to Manfred Hahm-Hartmann listing the seeds you want, and he will mail back shipping costs and payment details. Living in the country right next door, I paid by bank transfer. Like the Dutch hobbyist pages above (but then, isn't this a monstrously out-of-hand hobby?) seeds are 50 cents per small packet. The packets are folded squares of paper taped to a letter and sent in an envelope, they really are little seed samples.

B&T World Seeds

Based in France, this site that sells seeds from literally all over the world is in English, French, German and Spanish. I haven't bought anything here, I've just browsed the beyond-unbelievable selection. The master list is broken up into lists per environment ("Arctic Native Plant Seed List") and per plant family ("Araucariaceae"), of which the site honestly states that not all seeds are available, or would be viable and come true to form. The seeds are expensive and the online catalogue is all text, but that's because there are just so many seeds; by now, separate pages of photographs have been added to various sub-lists to give an idea of the plants without cluttering up the lists themselves. The site accepts all form of payment, to quote: "Credit-card, PayPal, cheques, bank transfers". When I go to the site, it tries to make me sign in or make an account before I can browse the seeds.


This originally German seed growing company has offices in Germany, the UK, the US and Japan, and a website in German and English. It carries only perennials and introduces a few new varieties every year. The site, although a bit annoying to navigate sometimes, breathes a professionality that is almost intimidating. Although I haven't bought anything there and may not do so for a while, it has some very exclusive cultivars, and, probably because of its US branch, is well acquainted with the Phytosanitary Certificate.

I ran into this multilingual (English, German, French, Spanish) site just as it was having a sale - certain varieties for 99 eurocents each - and had a ball. Normal prices are steeper: generally 3.99 euro and upwards. The site owner must be living in a warm country, because the plants listed are tropicals, subtropicals, xerophytes, Australian plants, South African plants, plants of the Canary Isles, cold-weather palms etc., you get the picture. When I think of the tropics I think of fruits, and sure enough there were three Annona species and several guavas. The selection is really quite large and includes plants for cooler climates. The site accepts credit card, PayPal, bank transfer or, if all else fails, money in an envelope. The site states: "There is no minimum order value, however orders below E 20.00 (excl. packing and shipping costs) are charged with a E 5.00 markup for small-volume purchases." Seeds can be sent by normal or registered mail. What I got was square cellophane packets, covered with big paper labels giving the plant's Latin name and genus, taped shut with Scotch, containing unlabeled (ergo, easily reused) ziplock bags with seeds, the packets themselves bundled into big ziplock bags for added protection, and the whole order in a jiffy envelope with the invoice and a few plant postcards. Possibly because it was a sale and the seller was presumably cleaning out old supplies, each packet contained more seeds than the label said.

KräuterReich-Exotic seems to have moved to FaceBook.

Formerly (and possibly still) the eBay seller schildmolly from whom I bought tomato varieties Iris' Rose and Iris' Magic, bred by the seller herself, she now has her own webshop for tomatoes, peppers and exotics, mostly herbs, and many from Asia; including Schizonepeta tenuifolia var japonica, known as Jing Jie locally and as Japanese catnip to foreigners. Unlike the eBay webshop which accepted PayPal, payment here is "Zur Rechnung", so I expected to see bank account information as soon as I'd finalized the order; instead, I was mailed a notification that the real order confirmation would follow in up to two days, presumably in case not all seeds were available. The confirmation, with total amount and bank account info, was mailed the same evening, and the mail "your order has shipped" came a few days later; the seeds arrived in about a week, in square ziplock bags containing a tiny printout of cultivation instructions, packed together in a paper envelope with a thin foam pad for protection.


A site by a fervent lover and preserver of old and rare tomatoes, it is very informative, but only if you speak German! All tomatoes for seeds are ecologically home-grown. Expect to see many tomato names translated to German, and a number of German heirlooms; one is called "Ostalgie", a term that means the yearning for the "good old days" of the DDR. The webshop allows payment by credit cards, PayPal and bank transfer. I used the latter and received a flat-text confirmation mail, a few mails concerning delivery and a PDF invoice.

Fatalii Seeds

This company sells mainly chili seeds but also many colourful tomatoes, is in Finland, has an English site and ships to any country in the EU. Not a hobbyist endeavour but a real company, it's a bit pricy, but worth it for getting rare seeds.


TomatoEden is an English webshop by a Polish company. Quoting the site: "over 350 varieties of tomato seeds". Also quoting the site:

"Dear Fans of Tomatoeden,
thank you for visiting our website.
We would like to kindly inform you that, in accordance with applicable Polish law regulations, we are not allowed to sell online heirloom vegetable seeds.
The catalog of varieties is for informational purposes only.
Sale possible on the farm.
We are very sorry.
We apologize for the inconvenience."
Curse you, applicable Polish law regulations.

The United Kingdom

Strictly speaking: England. Gardening is very serious business in England, and the English are prepared to fork out for their hobby. Hence, seeds are more expensive in the UK, but much more different varieties are available to cater to many more tastes. The English don't grow "snapdragons, mixed"; they grow tall snapdragons, compact snapdragons, red snapdragons, snapdragons in pastel shades, splashed and spotted snapdragons, chocolate-leaved snapdragons, and they will actually take cuttings from snapdragon plants. So, English seed companies are magnets to avid gardeners.

Seeds were formerly readily shipped abroad (although plant plugs were not); England is less happy about seed and plant imports. Payment used to be a bother; credit cards were fine, but because the UK didn't use the euro, bank transfers to this former EU country (ie. legally, there should be no transfer costs) ended up getting transfer costs charged to the payer or the receiver or both, so the only other options were PayPal or sending money in an envelope; fortunately, seed companies started accepting PayPal. But then Brexit happened, and the point became moot as the UK can no longer ship any plant material to the EU.

Chiltern Seeds

Known for its text-only catalogue where glowing descriptions take the place of pictures, this seed company has a huge collection: Aquilegias alone cover several pages. Included are run-of-the-mill seeds like the usual delphiniums, hollyhocks, sweet peas & whatnot, and species from all continents; one catalogue, I think in 2008, specifically featured a "Chili collection", and there is a large section on all the different types of eucalyptus categorized by hardiness. These days, there is a webshop adding illustrations to the descriptions. Most seeds by far are of decorative plants: flowers, shrubs, trees, of which some of course may have edible parts; but there is a separate section for herbs and vegetables which is similarly extensive, containing more kinds of basil than you can shake a stick at, yet still they manage to add a basil to the decorative plants section. The vegs and herbs section is now in a separate catalogue because people kept missing it, stuck as it was at a booklet too full of pages to finish reading in one day. A great favourite with customers are the lottery mixes: last year's seeds mixed together and put in packets for people who like surprises. Chiltern Seeds will accept whatever form of payment is possible for UK residents - forms which, due to currency matters, are impossible or impractical for residents of other EU countries - and also credit cards and PayPal, and puts its seeds in plain white paper packets (very environmentally friendly!) on which is printed the plant name and sometimes (as for seeds which need to be sown immediately on arrival) sowing instructions. Seeds requiring extra protection are folded into cellophane or bubble-wrap, and the packets together are wrapped in plastic bags and shipped in cardboard boxes. This was the first UK-based company I've ever ordered seeds from, but now that I've tried some others, I must say Chiltern Seeds gives me a lot of seeds for my money, and puts a warning in the catalogue for any seeds too scarce to give more than a pinch of. "Generous packets" is what they call it, and that's no exaggeration.

Ordering through the website usually goes without problems, but I did run into a hitch - something to do with a cookie expiry time, I think - when I went absolutely bananas and ordered enough seeds to provide a small continent with plants, and ended up having to split the order in three. Deleting all cookies and starting over would probably have been the right thing to do, but instead I mailed the company asking them to merge the three orders, which they did.

Chiltern Seeds sadly cannot sell to EU countries until this Brexit mess is sorted.


My first experience with this company was purchasing two of its luscious-looking, good-enough-to-eat catalogues from Vreeken, who also carries most of their seeds and will place orders for any others on the customer's behalf. Real flowers look dull and boring beside the photographs that these catalogues are filled with. Compared to the two companies above, T&M has a limited range of seeds (though still much better than what the average Dutch seed shop offers) and also sells bulbs, plants, plant plugs and gardening accessories. The company has committed customers, who may give something back; a number of T&M introductions, like the green-flowered poppy, came from customers.

T&M basically pulled off an early Brexit. First, they had different webpages for UK and non-UK customers. They would often mail me special offers that I could order through the non-UK part of the website. Then, they removed the non-UK pages and sent me offers that were only valid for UK residents and therefore useless to me. Because I kept getting my order voided when shopping online because some item wasn't allowed for my non-UK address, I stopped shopping there altogether. While I still did, I found that T&M doesn't accept PayPal and only accepts cheques or credit card. The seeds were sent in big packets wrapped in an envelope with a huge computer printout of my order.

Plants of Distinction

How long this company has been around I don't know, but Google turned up, one day, what seemed to be a rival of Secret Seeds (a former English seed company) offering an even smaller range of even more exclusive plants - and note that "smaller range" still means much, much more than what's commercially available where I live. Where Secret Seeds goes for rarities, though, Plants of Distinction goes for the superior cottage garden flower: I am guessing its selection criteria to be "would this look right in a T&M catalogue?" Some highlights: a green-flowered alstroemeria; a salmon-coloured zinnia; a marigold with white petals, red underneath. I haven't bought seed from this company yet, but can tell from browsing the webshop that distinction comes at a price.

One niggle, though; this company, Thompson&Morgan, and even Vreeken offer "patriotic" seeds: orange for the Dutch, red-white-blue (found in the flags of many other countries, by the way) for the Dutch and British. Not only does the chauvinist, war-enabling concept of "patriotism" irk me, but the mix offered in the 2011 catalogue ("Sweet Pea Rule Brittannia") doesn't even cover it: the red-white-blue sweet pea mix is in fact magenta-white-purple - as is T&M's "Flying the Flag" mix. Hm.

I did take advantage of a few sales, though; payment was by credit card if I remember right, and the seeds were mostly in big green packets in a jiffy envelope or cardboard box.

On Brexit, their site states the following:

Overseas Seed Orders - We regret that we are no longer able to send seeds, plants, corms or bulbs outside the UK due to new Brexit rules. We do have distributors in Europe who stock a selection of our seeds and we will happily give you their details if you wish to purchase direct.

The Real Seed Catalogue

The idea behind RealSeeds was to preserve heirlooms that were disappearing due to the EU's daft seed laws. Because all seed had to be "listed" (an expensive process) before a company could sell it, their solution was to make every customer a member of their "club", so they could "give" seeds in return for "donations". Then the rules tightened, and they were forced to "list" some of their heirlooms and drop others. Now, they're out of the EU, which should solve the heirloom problem but probably won't, because England is plenty good at drafting stupid laws itself.

They have a limited selection of seeds, but it is of varieties they have tested themselves, and deemed the best for the home gardener. As to whether you can actually order said seeds: not if you're in the EU or USA, but check out their order page for alternatives.

Nicky's Nursery

This is a site I found while surfing for tomato variety "Venus", which Thompson&Morgan had dropped for that year, and also to check whether all the tumbling pot tomatoes are F1 hybrids or not, since there seemed to be some confusion on the matter. Nicky's had seeds of Venus, as well as Tumbler, Tumbling Junior Yellow, Little Sun, Losetto, and three varieties of Sweet'n'Neat - all are F1 - as well as a mini-courgette for pots, various basil varieties (especially the newer ones) and basically an extended version of T&M's catalogue, at slightly lower prices. (Over a decade later, these varieties have been dropped.) I haven't tried ordering there, but can report that payment is by Paypal, any of the well-known credit cards, or cash in an envelope (certified mail). Due to import restrictions, the seller can't ship to the USA and South Africa.

Oh bittersweet irony, this site's "shipping" tag is now labelled "Shipping & Brexit".

Plant World Seeds

I ran into this site, which sells seeds of plants from around the world to buyers from around the world, when websurfing for rare tomatoes. And they do have a nice selection, including their own hybrid of a Banana Legs crossed with a currant tomato, but they carry a wide range of flower, tree/shrub, tropical and vegetable seeds, with many rare alpines and quite a number of salvias.

This site, which has pictures, short descriptions and sowing instructions for all its plants, displays prices (and they are steep-ish, although there are discounts) in British pounds, Euro and US dollar, and can be translated into various languages using Google Translate. The sellers accept credit card and Paypal, and promise fast, cheap delivery, with free shipping on orders over 50 pounds. But those lucky enough to live in Britain, especially near Devon, can simply buy the plants at their garden centre.

This site would like to ship seeds globally, but can't when the destination country won't let it, like when the country is in the EU.


The iron curtain is coming back down: the one seed company in this sattelite of Russia (first part of it, then independent, soon part of it again if Putin has his way) that I used to buy from, no longer ships to the EU. Phytosanitary certificates, you see. Also, the EU's war on biodiversity and desire to become a second USA, protectionism and all.


The former eBay seller nastjuschka06, offering a truly crazy range of vegetable - notably including tomato - seeds of mostly Russian and Ukrainian origin, set up NikitovkaSeeds, a bilingual webshop in English and Cyrillic where, until about 2019, I could order seeds to my heart's content, which arrived in a distended (I was greedy and ordered a lot) jiffy envelope tightly stuffed with labelled ziplock bags containing generous portions of seeds.

United States

The United States of America is the country of mail-order. It is also the country of crazy. This means that while buying seeds online is the natural thing to do, and shipping out of the country is generally OK, any seed shipment into the US, or even from one state to another, is treated like an envelope of anthrax, and the buyer may well receive, instead of seeds, a letter stating that the goods were confiscated for lack of a Phytosanitary Certificate. This applies even to tomato seeds, because we all know that tomatoes are dangerously invasive man-eating weeds that spread deadly diseases through their seeds. (Industrially produced tomato seeds can spread diseases, as they are produced in such huge amounts that it isn't economically viable to clean them properly; the standard technique of fermenting the seed kills most pathogens.)

(A few years after making this page I found that two of the seed companies listed below don't accept international orders, so shipping out is no longer OK either. Although, to be fair, that is due to the crazy import attitudes of other countries, like the EU demanding a costly phytosanitary certificate; if you live in the EU, then DO NOT buy from US companies that can't supply this certificate.)

What this means is that US buyers who order from abroad and don't want to pay extra for a fancy piece of paper are screwed. Small amounts of seed in innocent-looking envelopes usually slip through. US-based seed companies generally don't take responsibility for confiscated seeds, and I can't blame them. They will tend to put a warning on their site about the states they can and can't send seeds to. Seed companies outside the US that know about its seed paranoia may put up similar warnings.

The US is also credit card country: a credit card or a PayPal account is highly recommended.

TomatoFest Organic Heirloom Tomato Seeds

I bookmarked this site of tomato seed growers/sellers for the fact that their seeds are ecologically grown. They carry less tomato varieties than Tomatenhahm, which is still an awful lot of varieties, and will welcome anything new, say, another cold-resistant high producer from Eastern Europe or an old heirloom newly discovered on a farm somewhere, to share the bounty with their customers. For offline browsing, they have a PDF catalogue. Seed costs on average 2 to 3 dollars the packet, more for rare varieties, and is sent in large labelled packets in a jiffy envelope. They accept credit cards and PayPal.

Note: the last time I bought seeds, the seed packets were pressed flat together and split over several normal letter envelopes, to avoid unwanted attention from customs. The trick worked; the seeds arrived safely, but it's sad that seed sellers are having to disguise their goods to avoid random confiscations. - seeds from around the world

I'm listing this site because it now incorporates (an updated version of) Rachel's seed supplies, a site for tomato and pepper seeds that I loved to browse when I was still wrapping my head around the huge numbers of heirloom tomatoes available and trying to learn all the names. The larger site sells all sorts of seeds. Although I haven't bought anything from them, the site is large and interesting enough to list. Accepts credit cards and PayPal. However (I don't know if this is a recent change), it only ships to the USA and Canada.

Trade Winds Fruit

This webshop specializes in tropical fruits and is based in California, where growers have a sporting chance of getting their tropicals to fruit. It includes fruiting plants for temperate zones, various vegs including several types of quinoa, and a nice collection of wild and heirloom tomatoes, some of which are novelties or rarities not found elsewhere. With a description and photograph of all plants it sells seeds of, it is highly educational, not to mention that browsing it makes me hungry. If you're looking for rose apple, breadfruit or mangosteen, this is the site to visit, but of course they also have many different palms, passion fruits and bananas. Accepts credit cards, PayPal, money orders and cheques or money by mail. Seeds are sent in stickered ziplock bags or large printed paper packets, in jiffy envelopes.

Trade Winds Fruit ships internationally, at the sellers risk, so if you line in the EU, don't bother.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds sells a dazzling variety of vegetable seeds from around the world and is committed to biodiversity, preserving heirlooms, and rejecting genetically manipulated seeds. Despite the warm welcome it extends to heirlooms from even such places as India and the former Soviet Union, it is typically "patriotic American" and, as such, apparently attracts Trumpanzee neo-fascists. (Then again, Taylor Swift attracts Trumpanzee neo-fascists, to her personal embarrassment.) The company would like to ship worldwide but has had to impose restrictions, and will no longer ship to Australia and the EU. When it still shipped to the EU, I ordered a boatload of seeds and received an envelope with large, prettily printed seed packets.

Amishland Heirloom Rare Veggie & Fruits Seeds

A one-woman operation to preserve Amish heirlooms, especially tomatoes, and extending that effort to Russian and other heirlooms, it shut down in 2020 and opened again in 2021 due to popular demand, with a smaller seed range and a more streamlined website. All seeds were grown ecologically on-site, and the tomatos on offer are rare-ish to very rare. Shipping is only within the USA.

The seeds have a fixed price, and PayPal is accepted - in fact, when I placed my order (in the days when shipping was still global), all I had to do was log into PayPal and pay the invoice, generated as automatically as on eBay. My order arrived as seed packaged in plastic bags wrapped around coloured cardboard rectangles with the company's address and URL printed on it, in a big jiffy envelope. The site is clearly popular, as varieties can get sold out very quickly.

Reimer Seeds

As always, I found this site looking for rare tomatoes. It boasts over 700 kinds of tomato in its online catalog, but over 2100 kinds of hot pepper! So many ways to burn one's mouth... Seriously, though, this site has all a veggie garden could need, and I used it to order some Japanese cucumbers, carrots etc. The seeds are non-GMO, and for the extra environment-conscious, are offered treated or untreated. Payment by PayPal, credit card, cheque, money order or Western Union Transfer; redeemable loyalty points for frequent buyers; and only the more expensive forms of shipping, presumably so seed doesn't get lost in transit. The seeds I ordered arrived in big printed paper packets in a plain brown envelope. The site is as informative as possible, offering not only cultivation and container gardening instructions but even a world database to show the countries of origin for its hot pepper collection.

A Southern seed company, it seems to have been bitten by the MAGA bug. The last time I tried to order there, before the coronavirus pandemic, just after the Black Lives Matter protests (which were not limited to the USA, by the way) and right in the middle of swastika-wearing, Confederate-flag-waving Trump supporters crying over the removal of Confederate "hero" statues because "muh heritage!!!", the site offered to throw in a Civil War history book with the order at a reduced price. I declined. Then, as I was about to finalize the order, the entry form wanted to know my date of birth. I failed to see how my age was Reimer Seeds' business, but as I couldn't skip that field, I filled in some random date and clicked past it, only to find that Reimer Seed tried again to add that Civil War book (probably white-supremacist pro-slavery propaganda) to the order. I cancelled the order, and frankly don't care where this company ships or if it even still exists; I'm just leaving this entry up as a warning.

This site was recommended to me as a source of rare seeds, requiring no minimum order. It's a bit bare-bones, being a small site that specializes in rare plants that do well in the Californian climate, but there are pictures. The main seed list is in alphabetic order, and there are smaller subsections, like the list of Salvias. Seeds are not cheap, ranging from $3.00 to $4.50, but these are, after all, rarities. Payment is by check, money order, credit card (Visa/Mastercard) or PayPal. Seedhunt ships to the USA and Canada.

Heritage Tomato Seed

This site is a front end for several small-scale seed sellers who grow their own heirloom and specialty crops: mostly tomatoes, also peppers, eggplant and okra. A seller of the company Bunny Hop Seeds has also bred some new tomatoes for difficult soils. It's a pretty online catalogue of wildly diverse tomatoes sorted by colour, for very reasonable prices, payable by PayPal. Previously, international orders were shipped in flat envelopes to avoid problems with customs; orders are still sent in flat envelopes, but only within the USA or to Canada and the UK, so post-Brexit England is lucking out for a change.

Knapp's Fresh Vegies
and its tomato index

The main page keeps coming up blank in Firefox 3.6, hence the extra link. There used to be other vegetable seeds, but now it's only tomatoes. The site is a little messy - in the tomato list, some varieties have their own page and others link to the page of a particular growing year - but that makes digging up the gems all the more rewarding. Here I found not only obscure varieties, but old hybrids that were carried for a while by the big seed sellers and then dropped. That certain varieties are called "F1" on one seed website and not on another confused me, but this site cleared it up for me: the tomatoes marketed as hybrids (to crank up the price a bit) are either not hybrids, or hybrid crosses that come fairly true from seed. The "F1" varieties grown by this seller are open-pollinated. All seeds are sold as $3 regular seed packs. Payment is by Paypal and seeds are shipped internationally in a jiffy envelope. Many hobby seed sellers and heirloom seed companies throw in an extra sample, but when I ordered here, I received both extra seeds and a discount code for the next purchase. In all, a webshop worth a visit.

The site is being overhauled and may move to domain "" in the near future. No mention of international orders, but anyone from the EU who orders here is asking to get those seeds confiscated. A shame, because this seller is keeping some almost extinct varieties alive.

True Leaf Market Seed Company (used to be Sustainable Seed Co.)

A certified organic seed and garden supplies seller with a large, informative site made to answer all questions before placing an order, such as: "Do you ship internationally? What payment do you accept? How likely is it that my seeds will be nabbed by customs?" so that I have little to add except that payment is by all conventional means (PayPal/credit card/cheque/money order) and yes, Europeans can order too. A dizzying selection: vegetables (including tomatoes, of course), herbs, all types of crop plants and flowers. Prices are on the steep side, but the site quotes market prices that are even steeper.

If you're in the EU and desperate to order, this site will in fact let you add a phytosanitary certificate to your order, to be paid for by you, the customer. The site also tries to list import conditions for all countries.

Tomato Growers Supply Company

A Florida-based seed company offering 380+ varieties of tomatoes and other members of the Solanum family, both heirlooms and hybrids, as well as other vegetable seeds, books and growing supplies, to avid gardeners and tomato enthusiasts. Shipping outside North America is not possible for the time being.

J. L. Hudson, Seedsman

Not a regular seed company, but a seed bank that makes seeds available to the public. It was on this site that I first read a rant about the paranoia against "invasive" plants (not restricted to the US, unfortunately) resulting in the outlawing of even native species and the misapplication of herbicides, and the greater part of it is essays and lectures. The seed catalogue is only a small part of the site, but contains rare items, and has a separate "out of stock" page that buyers can check before placing an order. Clicking on "How To Request Seeds" brings up pages of instructions for buyers both in and outside North America, and, especially for international customers, PayPal is accepted. Would-be recipients are responsible for their own phytosanitary certificate or whatver they need to import seeds.


There's little to say about Canada except that it uses Canadian dollars and is slightly less crazy about imports than the US. That's to say, I haven't heard of seed being confiscated at the border. But when, late last century, I sent a chocolate letter E to someone in Canada, it arrived looking like an F because some customs officials had a jolly time chipping bits off it to test for diseases transmitted through dairy products. So there is a certain paranoia about imports. Luckily for non-Canadians, there's no restriction on exports; but reports of customs hassles have made Canadians wary of selling abroad anyway.

Seeds of Diversity

This one goes right at the top, because it's not a seed selling site, but a directory of seed sellers. In fact, it is "a Canadian volunteer organization that conserves the biodiversity and traditional knowledge of food crops and garden plants". That said, it lists heirloom seed companies in (as of 2014) Canada, the USA and France, and also lets you search all sellers of a particular vegetable variety. Take heed: not all of these sellers have handy-dandy one-click-order webshops!

Solana Seeds

A bilingual French/English Canadian webshop that sells mainly vegetable heirlooms - including four pages of tomatoes - and some flowers, herbs and exotics. For warm-climate plants like tomatoes, cucumbers and melons, it says which varieties are most likely to succeed in cool wet summers, and it carries the tomato varieties ending in "-bec" (Canabec, Rosabec) bred specifically for the Quebec climate. This is the first shop I found to sell the three kinds of round cucumber - Lemon, Crystal Apple and Richmond Green Apple - and get the names right. At the time, unfortunately, Solana Seeds didn't accept PayPal. It does now, so I had a whale of a time ordering mostly cucumbers and tomatoes. Prices are around two dollars fifty (Canadian!) for most tomatoes and three dollars for "high purity" seeds (flowers were bagged to prevent cross-pollination). When I ordered, the seeds were sent in small ochre paper envelopes (the seed inside the envelope was in a ziplock bag for further protection) put in big jiffy envelopes.

The seller will ship orders globally, but it's the buyer's responsiblity to make sure the seeds aren't seized at the border.

VanDusen Seed Collectors

A botanical garden that sells its seeds to finance its maintenance. To quote the site: "The VanDusen Volunteer Seed Collectors have been collecting, cleaning, packaging and selling their seeds for more than two decades and as new harvest roll in the store is constantly updated with new items." Despite being harvested by volunteers, the seeds are quite expensive, but it offers a fairly wide range, and I enjoyed browsing the site. Not having bought anything there, and not seeing this information anywhere on the site, I don't know what forms of payment they accept. The site is in French and English.

Due to US import regulations, VanDusen reluctantly no longer sells to US customers.

Tatiana's TOMATObase

A wiki about heirloom vegetables and especially tomatoes. A bit slow to load sometimes, but, like those tomato information sites, great for looking up obscure varieties. It has a page for ordering seeds, which is why I'm not listing it with the tomato information sites on the next page. It has links to other seed sellers and informative sites.

The seed-ordering page seems not to have been updated since 2018, which must be why the webshop (if it still functions) "only" refuses to ship to Australia and Russia, and not the EU.

Richters Seeds

To quote the site: "Herb plants, seeds, books, dried herbs and more - Richters is your best source for everything herbal!" Richters offers seeds, but also bulbs and plants - I found the site through a search for botanical roses - but sadly only within Canada and the USA. So for everyone outside that area, it will be irrelevant that Richters accepts payment by cheque, money order or credit card, or that it has a wide range of basils (but no tomatoes) and a special SeedZoo section for rare seeds collected from all around the world.

Greta's Organic Garden

A seed seller based in Ontario, this is the only one of the few seed sources I checked out via Seeds of Diversity that had a webshop; the other sources insisted on a mailed order form, and since they were all Canadian, I assume this is the standard for Canadian heirloom seed sellers. There are all sorts of vegetables on this site, but tomatoes are the stars, and ooooh the yummy pictures of both heirlooms and what I thought to be F1 hybrids, like Venus, which was "Certified by Ecocert Canada" (whatever that means) and the Tumbling Toms. The seed packets are expensive but large, 20 seeds and upwards. As the site, despite linking to PDF catalogues in both French and English, has virtually no information on the requirements for ordering, and does have the rare tomato "Farthest North", I simply closed my eyes and took the plunge.

The first thing I had to do was make an account. No account, no order. The site tells me that I can use this account to both send seeds as a gift to someone else (by entering a different delivery address) and check on the status of my order, which turned out to be superfluous, as the seller conscientiously reports every stage of the process by email. Then I filled out the order, which was a bit tricky, as the site has no search field. The tomatoes are categorized by their colours and by a last category "cherries" which is also subdivided into colours, so if I'm looking for a red cherry, I won't find it under the main category "tomatoes - red". Next came the mock checkout which turned into a real checkout when I saw to my delight that yes, the seller shipped to my country and, moreover, charged the very reasonable "Table Rate" of $5 (Canadian) for three packets. Payment is by credit card, money order or cheque.

The seeds arrived (surprisingly quickly, in my case) in a jiffy envelope further protected by a stiff piece of cardboard. The seeds themselves were in stiff brown packets of very recycled-looking (I mean that in a "good for the environment" way) paper, with descriptions printed on the outside.

These days, the Venus tomato is no more, though its place has been taken by many more colourful tomatoes, and the only shipping zone is Canada.

Casey's Heirloom Tomatoes of Airdrie

Another tomato seed source found via Seeds of Diversity, with a modest but interesting assortment. The seller grows the tomatoes and harvests the seed, sparing no effort to make sure the seeds of these tomatoes breed true and says this reflects in the seed price, which is a still reasonable $3.50 (CAD) per packet of 25 seeds. Payment is by PayPal or cheque. The site says that seeds have been shipped all over the world, which doesn't mean they would arrive safely if I ordered any right now. A damn shame, because this is one of those sources offering tomatoes that I can't find elsewhere.

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