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Posted on November 12, 2012, updated November 29, 2013
I think it’s probably just human nature that we tend to post comments about vendors when we have a problem with them. I certainly have done so here in the past. But when I put together my list of recommended seed suppliers for a Senior Gardening posting this year, I realized that I should make a positive comment here about each of our suppliers that have performed so well over the years.
We’ve used Stokes Seeds as one of our two or three main garden seed suppliers for over twenty years. They provide good to exceptional quality seed (in terms of germination) in a time when other suppliers appear to be cutting corners on seed quality.
An example of Stokes good customer service for us was when we ordered and received a GardenWatchCamera from them several years ago with the essential base plate missing. When I called to report the problem, I was a bit pushy in insisting they open the box before shipping a replacement to ensure the base plate was there. When the replacement arrived, sure enough, they’d opened the box and checked...leaving me a note they’d done so.
Thirty years of good seed and service has to be worth something. In this case, it means a change to a neutral (from positive) rating for Stokes Seeds instead of a negative rating.
We received "hard" geranium seed from stokes last year, an item still hotly contested by the president of Stokes. We also found that they sell old seed from the previous season that still meets their and federal germination requirements as new seed.
Stokes' reasoning on selling old seed as new was basically that "everybody is doing it." I refused to accept such excuses from my students over thirty-four years in the classroom, and I'm not about to accept such an excuse for such a dubious practice, even from a respected seed company. Stokes should be a leader in providing folks with fresh seed with the insurance that it isn't year-old seed that has been re-tested and re-labeled.
madge4500 belleville Canada (1 review) May 10, 2013
I have no idea why anyone would think $6.95 is a high rate for a shipping fee, they haven't raised that rate in years, I have dealt with Stokes Seeds over 25 years, they are still the freshest more reliable seeds, I used to grow over 5 acres of pumpkins for market, never had a problem with their seeds, service or fees, awesome company to deal with.
I love of the huge variety of flower seeds they offer.
Been ordering form Stokes year after year. Never had a bad order....touch......dirt : )
sandgarden Millsboro, DE (11 reviews) May 23, 2012
They offer such a vast variety of unusual seeds. Fulfillment very, very prompt. Will continue to be a customer.
psychloman Brooklyn, NY (Zone 7a) (50 reviews) May 21, 2012
This company has been around for years but I don't recall ever having ordered from them before.This year I gave them a try after visiting their website and reading the meticulous information given for almost all the seed they sell.I ordered seed of brachycome,ursinia and catananche and received large,generous packets of each.Germination was excellent. Their website makes fascinating reading and they have a great selection.I'm sorry I didn't order more than I did.
LCROCKERC Florence, MT (4 reviews) February 19, 2012
Seed order arrived very quickly. Good variety of seeds to pick from but I feel their shipping costs are a little pricey. Other than that I have no complaints.
phoenix2012 Yorkton Canada (3 reviews) February 13, 2012
Last year there was a discrepancy between the printed catalogue and the package about whether or not a Kong sunflower would produce seeds. At the end of the season the plants and flowers were magnificent but I didn't see any seed in the flower heads so complained to Stokes. Then when taking down the plants, there the seeds were under a sort of covering that had to be brushed off. I phoned Stokes to apologize and they told me they had already sent me a package of other sunflowers to try .(The package arrived the next day!)
The seeds I have got from them have always sprouted and grown with vigor, their customer service is superb in my experience, and they do NOT carry any GMO seed. Vilmorin announced that this year they will start to deal in GMO seeds and many smaller outfits may well get some of their seed there. You need to check if you want organic seed though, most of Stokes' stuff is geared to commercial growers, i.e grown with chemicals, although they do also carry organic seed. I definitely recommend checking them out.
PinetopPlanter Auburn Four Corners, PA (Zone 5a) (23 reviews) May 17, 2011
I think the seeds are somewhat pricey -- probably, in part, due to the size of the packets they offer. Their packets, in general, contain many more seeds than those from other catalogues. A small nursery could manage on the amount of plants one can grow from a packet of Stokes' seeds. So perhaps their offerings are not for the 'micro' or very small home gardener. That said, their offerings are excellent -- they have a huge selection of petunia seed, as well as marigolds and impatiens. Same with the vegetables. I ordered Durango mixed marigold seeds about 4 years ago. I'm still planting that seed these years later with excellent germination results. I think every seed from Stokes germinates -- the rates are amazing. The catalogue is very nice as well. They have become a regular supplier for me.
voyagergreg Lakeside Marblehead, OH (8 reviews) March 13, 2010
Ordered carnation seeds & they arrived in 5 days..Confirmation of order was received via email when order was received as well as when it was shipped..
Will be starting the carnations indoors after seeds harden in freezer for 5 -7 days as instructed...
1.) I filled out a long list of items for my cart, on-line. When I got to the end (even tho it provided an order #) my cart was EMPTY. I just wasted about 2 hours.
2.) I called, and spoke to a very nice person (in their Canadian office) who helped me RE-ORDER everything on my list. Wasted another hour.
3.) The seeds arrived a few days later......didn't realize that most were treated with pesticide, and the directions called for using more pesticide during the growth stage.
4.) Also, they are set up more for professional growers, then the home gardener. It makes the directions a bit annoying when all I want to know is how to start seeds in a growth flat I bought at WalMart.
PamelaQ Navarre, FL (Zone 8b) (22 reviews) March 1, 2010
I ordered and received seeds from Stokes in a very timely manner. They have such a large choice of petunias with all the new varieties out. I will order again for other categories also.
Stokes has the most comprehensive information on growing their seeds/plants anywhere. Excellent information in their catalog and even greater detail on the individual seed packets. They have one of if not the largest selections of seed varieties available including many commercial varieties that are not always available to home gardeners through other companies.
I would also rate their customer service as excellent. I ordered seed online, received confirmation e-mails as the order progressed through their company and confirmation of shipment. My seeds were waiting for me exactly 7 calendar days after ordering. I ordered seed from three other companies the same day and none of those orders have even been shipped yet (reviews for those companies will follow).
I have used Stokes' catalog for years as a reference, but this was my first order and will probably be the only company I order my vegetables from in the future.
Carolsflowers Brunswick, MO (Zone 5a) (8 reviews) January 24, 2010
Stokes catalog is very informative with a wide selection & quality seed. Their service was good. My neutral rating is caused by the fact that most of the seed is treated. While some folks prefer this, I do not. This fact does not seem to be mentioned in the catalog in a manner for the customer to make a decision. The treated seed issue is the ONLY reason for not posting a positive rating.
juliabears Harrisburg, PA (7 reviews) January 15, 2010
I have been ordering seeds from Stokes for close to twenty years. I have NEVER had a problem. The detailed growing instuctions on the packet are very informative. There may be seed houses as good as Stokes but none better.
I ordered salvia and lobelia seeds and a few supplies this past winter. Delivery was prompt and I had extremely good germination rates. I like the wide selection and would definitely order from this company again.
I pulled several herb seed packets out of the refrigerator that were well past due. I just tossed them in garden boxes to see what would happen and it was unbelievable! It looked like every seed germinated within a short period of time and the herbs were beautiful until the Texas heat got to them. Definitely recommend Stokes seeds!
Absolutely love this company. Have ordered a variety of flower seeds from them over the past few years and have never been disappointed. The large packet size is nice, and the option to purchase grower-quantity sizes is great, for example being able to order ounces of different sunflower seeds for a sunflower garden.
Germination is always excellent and the plants have always been outstanding.
I particularly appreciate the very detailed sowing/growing instructions. It allows me to try new and unusual flowers from seed, that I would not have had success with, without the helpful directions!
I searched several seed companies to find gourd seeds. I finally came across Stokes and they had the most variety!
I could finally order the bulk of the specialty gourd seeds from one place and at a reasonable price. (Some of the seeds I was searching for seemed only available thru the National Gourd Society and their members.)
Thank you Stokes!
Will update when seeds arrive and as they germinate and grow.
LeeOn April 10th, 2009, cherokeeleprechaun added the following:
My seeds and other items arrived 2 days ago and I they are all planted and in the greenhouse. I had received emails that let me know the progress of my order in their warehouse and when it was shipped out.
I have raised a few gourds in my time, but this year I am aiming at raising a few specialty varieties for fun and crafts. Have done my homework and research and am grateful that STOKES had the wide variety for me to purchase all at one time, from one place. However, I forgot to order the snake gourds! Oh well I think the other nine will keep me plenty busy!
More to come as the little rascals germinate. May spring burst forth in a glorious blaze of color and greenery!On April 28th, 2009, cherokeeleprechaun added the following:
Update on my gourds.
Nearly all of the seeds germinated even though my barn cats decided to investigate the newly potted seed trays. I suspect that has something to do with the few that did not germinate.
The germinated plants are healthy and growing very well. I have hardened them all off and they are ready to be placed outside.
Those that have already gone forward to the mound beds are thriving.
The bushel gourds were the last to germinate but they are catching up fast!
I will definately order again from STOKES.
Side note: As nearly all of the seeds that I planted germinated, I had extra plants. A church group came to get manure for their community garden (I have a continuous renewable resource of it with my horses!) and I offered them the extras. They were impressed with the size of the plants and their healthiness for the short time that I had had been growing them. They are looking forward to doing some youth group crafts with them this fall. They are going to go in a special section for the kids to grow.
Seems they have not been able to germinate gourds in their garden plot so THANKS AGAIN STOKES !!!
STOKES IS THE TOP OF THE LINE SEED COMPANY. FOR YEARS I HAVE HAD EXCELLENCE IN SERVICE. SHIPPING,SEED VARIETY,GERMINATION,CUSTOMER SERVICE,MORE SEED FOR LESS, SOME OF THE BEST GARDENS I HAVE HAD ARE FROM STOKE SEED. STOKE CATALOGS ARE A TREASURE TROVE OF PLANTING TIPS AND INFORMATION TO ENSURE SUCCESSFULL SEEDINGS. NO OTHER SEED CATALOGS COMPARE!!!
I wanted to take a few moments out of my busy seed starting day to praise Stokes on the customer service I received. I placed an order with them, and granted it wasn't huge, but I had my seeds within a week. With the exception of one packet that was on back order....no big deal really, but now we are getting down to it, and I needed to know if I should order something different for my yard.
I sent an e-mail asking about the backorder, and got a really fast response telling me what was going on with my order....and this morning, 3 different e-mails, all about the progress of my order.
Gardeners on a whole are a pretty forgiving bunch I think, but when customers service goes above and beyond, the company earns our business. Thank you Stokes for a job well done!
gafbuffalo Orchard Park, NY (Zone 5a) (6 reviews) May 12, 2008
Stokes is a semi-local company for me, with their US warehouse about ten miles away and their headquarters in Canada within easy reach. They have excellent seeds with great germination and are to be recommended in every way -- fast service, decent and comprehensive selection and amazing cultural information, both in their catalog and on the seed packets. Mystery seeds are unlikely from them. I highly recommend their products. The one time I had an issue, I got a letter of explanation from their CEO and a no-questions-asked refund (even though the seeds were not really defective). I've bought from them for over 20 years.
Buy from them with confidence.
Super fast, had order in 5 days. Good selection, they were the only ones who had my special painted daisies. Very happy, seed is germinating well.
cattican Vancouver Canada (1 review) March 23, 2008
One of the best things is the comprehensive list of instructions on the back of the packages. I've followed them closely, with what I consider 100% success. All seeds had a high germination rate, and performed in the garden as illustrated. I always recommend Stokes if asked about my beautiful flower beds.
Sent an order in on January 21, 2008, recieved February 2, 2008. In that order there were 2 packages of pelargonium, (geraniums) that I planted on February 11. Out of 41 seeds, I already have 36 that have germinated. I think that's pretty good. I will be ordering from them again in the future.
arachide Chicago, IL (Zone 5b) (12 reviews) February 5, 2008
I have ordered from Stokes for three years in a row because they have a good product and excellent customer service. They offer a large selection of seeds sold in individual color packets so I can order the exact colors I want and not just a pack of mixed. In addition, most seeds can be ordered in quantities ranging from small up to bulk. Their seeds have excellent germination and are shipped promptly with email notification of order status. All in all a great company.
glendalekid Tuscaloosa, AL (Zone 7b) (17 reviews) January 7, 2008
Great service from this company. Seeds were shipped quickly and arrived quickly. Prices and shipping costs are very reasonable. They had several varieties I was having trouble finding, so I was very happy to find them here.
paracelsus Elmira, NY (Zone 6a) (17 reviews) November 26, 2007
I've been ordering seeds from this company since the eighties. I like them primarily because they offer some unusual varieties (at very reasonable prices), and they have a very informative catalog, especially if you are growing in the north. For years they were one of the only companies that had unusual sweet peppers, esp. pimento types, which I favor. Pretty much every color of pansy and petunia as well.
Yes, their website used to be wiggy, but they seem to have resolved that.
I have been ordering seeds from stokes for several years. Service and shipping is excellent. They have many seeds in larger quanties at very reasonable prices. The pelleted seed makes planting a breeze. The information in Stokes catolog makes it a great reference source. I highly reccomend this company.
in Thorold, Ontario, Canada.
+ Positive, 2 greenthumbs up for this seed company!
I’ve been ordering seeds from this company for many years now and I’ve never had a problem with their products.
Good selection, always something new, reasonable prices, good quality, informative growing instructions, always great germination, wonderful customer service, fast delivery, easy to navigate website, free colourful catalogue, what else can I say!
Positive Feedback - This year was the first time I had ever heard of this company, but I will definitely be a repeat customer!
I ordered Brocade sweet corn from Stokes in the Spring of 2007 and had it in hand within the week! I don't know how they did it! Their catalog was a wealth of information. I was able to compare growth and production charts of seeds; even those seeds advertised by other companies whose catalogs had no comparison information available.
The Brocade Sweet Corn was the best I've ever eaten! Definitely the best I've ever grown! Brocade produced consistant 2 inch diameter ears, 8 inches long, pollinated to the the tip, in tight husks, on strong upright stalks 7 and 8 feet tall.
People that I gave corn to asked, "How did you do it?"
"Easy, I planted Brocade Sweet Corn - God grew it - I picked it."
I have ordered from a lot of mail order seed catalogs over the last 35 years, but I have by far been most impressed by Stokes Seed and service. Now I am a local gardening success. My neighbors, my horse, and my family have some how put away about 1400 ears of corn this summer. We are very happy.
I will be ordering my corn from them again next Spring!
goatmama22 Fort Plain, NY (Zone 5a) (1 review) June 21, 2007
I called in an order on a Tuesday afternoon and had it in hand on Friday. The people on the telephone were very friendly and professional. This was my first order, but certainly will not be my last. I also love the catalog, there is a wealth of information, I am still reading and learning. The only problem that I have is that the print is very small.
I have placed a couple of orders with Stokes this spring and both were delivered promptly. There was a wealth of information included on their seed packets. They had the best prices I could find for Jiffy pots, too. I'll certainly be placing more substantial orders with this company next year!
Philleagle Sterling, VA (2 reviews) March 30, 2007
I have ordered seeds from Stokes for many years and did so again this year. I trust their catalog and their very prompt delivery. Although I do not order large quantities of seeds, I find that whatever premium I may pay (not large, if any) is offset by the wide variety of choices I get and the reliability of their seeds.
warrennj Great Meadows, NJ (9 reviews) March 6, 2007
Stokes has always provided me with some of the best quality (and often hardest to find) seeds, always quick shipping, and reliable germination. Have been dealing with them for over 15 years and I see no reason I won't be dealing with them in the future.
rebecca101 Madison, WI (Zone 5a) (25 reviews) February 22, 2007
I made my first order with Stokes this winter. I took advantage of their shipping special - free shipping if you order early. Otherwise they have somewhat pricey shipping for a seeds-only order - somewhat high flat rate. But if you order supplies from them as well it turns out to be a good deal.
The reason I ordered from them is their selection - they have several single-color flower seeds that I couldn't find anywhere else, as well as a few hard-to-find Asian and other vegetable seeds. Their catalog is extensive and contains a lot of useful cultural information. The order arrived very quickly. I will definitely order from them again.
This was my first time ordering from Stokes- they had a Cosmos I was looking for that others were out of. Also ordered some seed starting supplies to take advantage of that shipping fee so it didn't seem so high. And wow- I am impressed. There was excellent communication via email as to the status of my order, and I was given a UPS tracking number. It was well packed, has great information on the seed packets, AND I got my order in like a week- a great turnaround. I will definitely be back.
cbh720d70 Portland, OR (3 reviews) February 17, 2007
I have been purchasing seed from Stokes for thirty five years during which time I have been gardening in various parts of the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. They have excellent variety at excellent prices as far as I am concerned and their specific germination information is as good and better than material in published books.You can depend on their seed. Anyone who considers their shipping and handling charges to be expensive has not compared them enough or considered their relative seed prices.
Stokes has a great selection and great seeds. The only problem I have had in the past is slow service. Shipping costs don't necessarily bother me since I buy a lot seeds. Also I have had problems ordering on line, so I usually have to call in my order.
hart Shenandoah Valley, VA (10 reviews) February 9, 2007
I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw on their website that shipping and handling of $6.95 is charged on any orders under $200. This is ridiculous. That was the end of any plans I had for placing a seed order.
Helios Louisville, KY (6 reviews) February 1, 2007
My seeds were promptly shipped and I received several emails concerning the progress of my order. The planting information on the foil packs is very specific and worth saving for future reference. It is also nice that they identify the country of origin. Well done.