The holidays are over and the New Year’s Day spirit is slowly waning. Now we are in January and if you live in an area with a true winter, you have at least two to three more months of life in the frozen tundra. This means one thing, it’s time to order free garden catalogs!
Paper catalogs may seem outdated in a digital world but I think they are the absolute best way to select seeds. Today I’ll share why you should order catalogs, how to request them and also my personal recommendations on what companies to order gardening catalogs from.
Free Garden Catalogs
Why Request Seed Catalogs?
Pretty much all of the major seed and plant and tree companies allow you to shop online these days. However, I really prefer paper catalogs for planning my garden. Many of the catalogs have detailed illustrations and descriptions about each plant and seed type. They also often contain gardening tips and tricks.
I like to highlight different seeds and products to keep track of what I’m interested in ordering. You can also easily flip back and forth between pages to compare prices. In other cases you might compare the characteristics of one variety of a green bean versus another.
You can also compare seed packet size, organic versus GMO and more. Believe it or not many seed catalogs are very robust containing hundreds of pages of information. They are not a small pamphlet. Because of these reasons I always request paper catalogs when available.
Most seed catalogs come out around this time of the year because it’s such a popular time to plan a garden. While some climates allow the ability to grow crops year-round many of us live in areas with a hard frost, a true winter and a dormant season. Some companies will issue their catalogs on a quarterly basis as well.
How to Request Free Gardening Catalogs
Now that I’ve shared why you would want a copy of a paper catalog, let’s go over the process to request these catalogs. Requesting and receiving free garden catalogs is an easy process. If you aren’t already on mailing lists for free seed catalogs, January is my favorite time to request hard copies via mail.
You might be on the mailing list already if you purchased seeds from a company in the past. Sometimes if you are on the list you may fall off if you don’t place an order within a specific time frame. If that happens simply contact the company again to request a seed catalog.
The most common way to do this is visit the company’s website and look for a catalog request or “free catalog” button. Usually there is a button to click, followed by a form you fill out to make the request. Usually this is located on the website home page, or if not, check the footer of the website. Once you find the request form you simply enter your name and mailing address.
No Catalog Link? No Problem
If you are unable to find a form to request a catalog then I would suggest you find the area on the website where you can contact the company. Fill out the contact form telling them you would like to be sent a printed catalog. Be sure to include your full mailing address when you fill out the form. Alternately, you could call the company.
It usually takes a few weeks for your catalog to arrive. If you request them now you will still have time to plan your garden before planting season really begins. Honestly the companies I have ordered from have been really good about not selling my information as well. They just send me their catalog and maybe a coupon or two throughout the year.
How to Use Gardening Catalogs
After receiving my gardening catalogs I like to look at them for fun. Yes! Honestly I just browse them like any magazine, stopping to read about different seeds or products that interest me. Then I will go through the catalog a second time and really begin my garden planning.
I take my time looking over the catalogs and start planning what organic seeds I will purchase, and any other garden supplies I will order. Typically I prefer organic seeds for any edibles such as vegetables and herbs. For flowers or other ornamentals the type of seed is less important to me.
This is when I use a highlighter or a permanent marker to make notes and mark which seeds and products I am interested in ordering. This way when I’m ready to order online I can easily reference the catalog. Alternately, the catalog also contains a mail-in order form in the center or back so you can order your seeds by mail as well.
Free Gardening Catalogs
Other Seed Catalog Tips
Feel free to highlight your free garden catalogs, take notes in them, dog ear pages – whatever works to inspire you and help you plan your garden. Personally I like to highlight seeds and plants I may buy, then make a list in a separate notebook prior to finalizing my order.
I have the Moleskine Gardening Journal, which I use to keep track of my garden from year-to-year. I am practicing organic gardening and lawn care practices, so when possible, I purchase organic seeds. Organic plants are important to me because I am mostly planting an edible garden and landscape.
Secondly even for the plants I do not eat outright, I may be harvesting parts for teas and DIY beauty recipes, for which I want the most natural sources possible. The other variety of interest to me – heirloom plants. You also might want to order organic or heirloom seeds if you are interested in green-living. There are surely other companies that also offer catalogs, but these are just a few I know of to get you started.
Here are some companies that offer free garden catalogs…
Botanical Interests: This is my favorite seed company. Not only are the seed packets colorful and informative, the company offers many organic and heirloom seeds. I prefer organic seeds for all of my vegetable seeds, when possible.
Burpee Seeds and Plants: I have purchased their vegetable seeds locally from big box stores and I noticed Burpee has started to offer more in the way of organic and non-GMO seeds. I have also purchased their herb seeds.
Hudson Valley Seed Company: I am new to this company but this is where I purchased my organic garlic last fall. I am interested in checking them out for their seeds as well.
Free Plant Catalogs
When you buy mail order plants they deliver them based on your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone and ship according to when you can actually plant. If you order during the winter season you can usually receive a discount on your plant order for thinking ahead too. I have pre-ordered plants in this fashion before including rose bushes, dwarf fruit trees and even a Meyer Lemon Tree.
Trees of Antiquity: If you are looking for the variety of tree your great-grandparents ate apples off of, this is where you find it. This company specializes in bare-root heirloom trees. They also offer bundle specials if you want to purchase multiple trees at once.
Rose Catalogs Free
Heirloom Roses: One summer when I was volunteering with the Master Gardener program, someone asked me how they could find English roses. I am not aware of any local vendors. I found mine through Heirloom Roses. Please Note: Unfortunately, as of 2017 Heirloom Roses has stopped offering a printed catalog. Plant selection can be viewed online.
Edmunds’ Roses: This is another company that allows you to purchase roses through their free garden catalogs. From miniature roses, to shrub roses and climbing roses, they have them all.
David Austin Roses: This is another source for English tea roses. Their catalog has a nice hardcover, thick pages and high-quality for some great catalog browsing.
Local Garden Centers for Seeds
I also wanted to mention that of course you can of course purchase seeds directly from retailers in person. This is a good option if you only need a few seeds for the year and don’t need a full catalog to browse. Two of my favorite local greenhouses are Petitti Garden Center and Cahoon Nursery.
I have also found some great deals on seeds and starter plants at Lowe’s and Big Lots. Lastly I’ve utilized some of the regional plant sales to find plants that others are willing to share. These sales are usually put on by local garden clubs or the Master Gardeners in my county also have an annual plant sale, too.
But there are still some plants on my dream list that I have not found locally or want a very specific variety of. I can’t wait to dig into the pages in these mail order plant and seed catalogs little more. I’ll utilize the seed catalog to select any herbs or vegetable plants on my “to grow” list.
Garden Catalogs Free
Now onto the fun stuff. What new plants will I be growing? I am still working on my plans but this year I will try growing shallots for the first time. I plan to grow a wider range of scallions. I’m also going to start asparagus from seed. After I order seeds I start my garden early with mini greenhouses.
In the past I have also used some seeds that were left over from the previous year with some success. They need to be harvested and stored well. It is best to buy new seeds each year, or save them properly from the year before. Again, keeping things pretty simple for this year for our garden with a focus on maintenance.
I will direct sow all of those seeds I started in the greenhouses outside, once it’s a bit warmer out. I hope this list of free garden catalogs helps inspire you in planning your garden this year. While it still may be a little too early to plant, it’s never too early to plan.
Are you planting a garden this year?
*This post was originally published in 2017 and has been updated and republished for accuracy and comprehensiveness.