Seed Exchange – A Great Way To Get Free Seed

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Robert Pavlis

A seed exchange is a great way to get free or low cost seed. It is also a way to get seed that you can’t buy anywhere else. For years now I have been using these services to expand my collection of plants and I just love them. One of the most enjoyable experiences in gardening is seeing a new species of plant flower for the first time.

So where are these great seed exchanges, you ask? This post provides a list of them.

Seed packages have just arrived from the ACS seed exchange
Seed packages have just arrived from the ACS seed exchange and it feels just like Christmas

Seed Exchange – What Is It?

Each exchange works a bit differently but in general, gardeners collect seed, either from their garden or from the wild and submit the seed to the organizing body, who then splits up the seed into smaller packets and makes them available to other growers.

In some exchanges you can get seed without submitting any but the people submitting seed usually have first crack at ordering seeds. In some online exchanges, everybody is asked to submit some seed and you get back seed based on how many types you submit.

My first exchanges were done on line by individuals in gardening forums like GardenWeb. In this case the seed is free except for postage, but the selection is limited to common plants. That is great for gardeners who are starting to grow seed.

Microbe Science for Gardeners Book, by Robert Pavlis

More recently, I wanted access to a wider range of seed so I joined various plant organizations. These exchanges are more formalized, usually have a small fee attached including membership, but they offer a much wider selection.

I’ve divided the list of exchanges into two parts; societies (any group requiring some type of membership) and online exchanges.

If you know of a seed exchange that is not on this list, post it in the comments and if it is suitable I will add it to the list.

Seed Exchange Societies

Alpine Garden Club of British Columbia

Alpine Garden Society

American Conifer Society

American Primrose Society

North American Rock Garden Society

Ontario Rock Garden and Hardy Plant Society

Ottawa Valley Rock Garden & Horticulture Society

Scottish Rock Garden Society

Seed Exchange Online

GardenWeb Forums

You will need to follow various groups to see if anyone in the group runs an exchange

Seedy Saturday

Started by Seed of Diversity in Canada. Various cities now hold a Seedy Saturday event, where you can exchange seed.

7th Annual Canadian Autumn Seed Exchange

Private seed exchange.

Rochester Civic Garden

Located in Rochester, New York.

Great American Seed Swap/Trade Project

A Facebook group.



  1. Photo source; peganum


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Robert Pavlis

I have been gardening my whole life and have a science background. Besides writing and speaking about gardening, I own and operate a 6 acre private garden called Aspen Grove Gardens which now has over 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. Yes--I am a plantaholic!

11 thoughts on “Seed Exchange – A Great Way To Get Free Seed”

  1. Hello I’m new at this and want to get started in exchanges. How do I get started? I gotta have some seeds to get started, where how do I begin thank you

    • A lot of the societies sell seeds and you do not have to supply any. Check out the ones on the list.

      If you are exchanging with others you need some seeds. You could collect them from other peoples gardens or public gardens.

  2. Hi Robert
    OVRGHS, The Ottawa Valley Rock Garden and Horticultural Society has had a great seed-ex for two decades, For several years Kristl Walek kindly hosted it at the much loved Gardens Nort


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