Every year the seed lists seem to come out earlier and earlier. It is almost like a competition to see who can get their list out the fastest. Why does this occur?
When the seed lists come out, we all get a bit excited and order copious amounts of seeds. Then another comes out and we are still excited and order. Gradually by the time the seed is actually ready to harvest, we are all ordered out and have spent too much money so don’t order anymore. The late seed lists miss out. The earlier seed list is the best marketing ploy and attract those in a seed-drought and are ready to order and spend money.
There is nothing wrong with having an early seed list, but potential buyers should be aware that it is easy to fall in love with the beautiful photos of parent plants and the excitement of ordering seed, particularly international seed. Often the description offered by the seller is less than adequate and the two lovely photos we fell in love with may result in a quite ordinary flower five years later. If the expected outcome is not stated, it can’t hurt to ask the seller what they expect from the cross. You may also have to wait for up to 6 months from when you paid for your order for the seeds to arrive.
A few tips with reading seed lists and ordering seeds
- Early seed lists are generally pre-ordering where the order happens from January and the seeds will not be harvested until June/July (for Australia and South Africa). This is quite common and has its advantages for the seller and buyer. Usually payment is required in advance though some just ask for a deposit.
- If ordering from overseas, be aware that Australia has certain requirements. Read the blog post on the changes to seed importation so you are aware.
- Also keep note of the exchange rate if ordering from overseas. From pre-ordering to time of harvest, the cost of the seed may have increased due to the currency fluctuations.
- Not all seed will germinate for whatever reason, so when ordering, assume that some may not sprout and order enough for this possibility. Some sellers are generous and add a few extra seeds should this happen, but many don’t.
- If it is an international seed list, check the postage. Most sellers offer reasonable postage rates to send overseas but I have come across a few that offer outrageous postal costs as they include administration costs and handling fees. This can make the seeds end up very expensive. ALSO, recently there have been additional charges in Australia for inspection of seeds.
- Check the quantity and crosses of seed when they arrive. I have had parcels arrive that have all the wrong seeds (someone else’s order), half the order missing (where I had to pay postage for a second time from overseas) and seed arrive that is brown and mouldy.
- Be aware that mistakes can happen. Even the most careful of growers may find that a stray bee has pollinated a flower before they had the chance to. I have many seedlings that on the breeding should have had non-pigmented bases and yet they are pigmented and will most likely flower orange. There is always a risk when buying seed.
Buying seeds in a risky business but also an exciting time. They could potentially grow into a beautiful flower and although many plants will flower ordinary, there is the possibility of some outstanding outcomes.