If you’ve been browsing seed catalogs lately, you may have noticed that many varieties have completely sold out, and some companies have stopped taking orders from gardeners entirely. There are reasons for seed shortages and ways to get access to the seeds you need.

Last year, we saw unprecedented seed sales at the onset of COVID-19, and companies struggled to keep up with demand. Based on early seed sales in 2021, it seems that the resurgence in gardening is indeed going to continue this year.

While many seed companies anticipated higher demand, they continue to operate more slowly than they would in non-pandemic conditions, which means it can be difficult to keep up with orders. Smaller seed companies may just have one or two people processing orders, so with increasing demand, it’s both hard to keep up and hard to predict availability.

As you’re looking at seed catalogs and seeing that many of your favorite varieties are sold out, or perhaps one of your favorite companies is no longer selling to gardeners, do not panic. The seed supply is not depleted, it has simply been a challenging year to manage increased demand.

Support your local gardening store. Even if some seed companies are not selling directly to gardeners, you can still find their seeds on racks at many of your local gardening stores and grocery stores.

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Attend a seed swap! See if your community has a local seed library, or a seed saving group. Many seed saving groups are doing online seed swaps this year and finding creative ways to share seeds safely with community members.

There are still plenty of seeds available through seed company websites, you may just need to be a bit flexible with variety selection if one you want has sold out, or buy it from a different vendor.

Explore smaller seed companies. Many gardeners use the same 3 or 4 companies every year to purchase seeds. But there are so many local and regional seed companies from which to choose

For more information on all things gardening, visit the University of Minnesota Extension website at www.extension.umn.edu

Until next time, happy gardening!


“A tree is a seed that never gave up on its dream to flourish.” ― Matshona Dhliwayo

Robin Trott is a horticulture educator with University of Minnesota Extension. Contact her at 320-762-3890, or at trot0053@umn.edu.