I developed a love for gardening from my father, of whom I have very fond childhood gardening memories. He taught me many things about gardening such as adding soil amendments, barrier techniques to protect tomato plants from cutworms and how to utilize gardening books. However, one thing Dad did not teach me much about was seed packets, because he bought most of his seeds in bulk. He would go up to the local Feed n Seed or the small ‘mom n pop’ grocery store in our town and buy a half-ounce of radish seeds or a fourth-pound of seed corn. He bought all of his gardening seeds in bulk. When the local Feed n Seed closed and the grocery store stopped selling seeds by the bulk, he had no other choice but to buy his seeds in packets and by that time I was grown and on my own. Today, seed packets can be bought individually or in a collection and I am sure there are some places that still sell in bulk (although I have yet to find any).
What is the Difference?
Individual seed packets are just that, one packet of one type of seed. A seed collection can be multiple individual seed packets sold together as a group such as flowers for a shade garden or herbs for an herb garden. Seed collections can also be one packet containing many different kinds of seeds such as a variety of flowers seeds for a flower patch.
Which is Better?
I have used seed collections and individual seed packets and have had good luck with both. Seed collections are good to use for spot gardening. What I mean by ‘spot gardening’ is when you have a particular area, say under a tree or along a fence that you want to decorate with some kind of flowers, but do not want to spend a lot of time having to choose the right plants or having to maintain it. An example of spot gardening I have is about an old well we had behind our house with the pump missing and only a solid concrete covering. I saw an advertisement in a gardening magazine for a seed collection of seeds and plants for a shade garden. Since the well was in complete shade, I thought this might work and sent off for the collection. I planted the perennial seeds and plants around the concrete covering and they did very well, coming back year after year. I also included a couple potted plants and a garden statue. One thing that makes seed collections unpopular with some gardeners is you do not get to choose the type of seeds or quantity that go into the collection.
Individual seed packets are good to use when you want to carefully plan your garden and maintain it, such as a vegetable garden. You will want the ability to choose how many, and what type of vegetables you want to plant. Using individual seed packets allows for less waste, because you will plant what you buy. An example is if a seed collection includes a packet of beet seeds and you do not like beets, you do not plant the seeds, thus they are wasted.
Be sure to evaluate your needs for the type of seed packaging you want to use before you buy.
Sources: Personal Experience, Burpee