The Q&A Archives: Hybrid / Non Hybrid Seeds

Question: Yesterday, I found the greatest sale on Burpee seeds at my local Kmart store. On some of the packets I found the word "Hybrid" but on most of the seed packets I could not find that particular word. I was wondering what does that word mean and should my other Burpee seed packets have Hybrid on them also? I looked at your Q&A site and read about the Non Hyrid Seeds but I'm still not sure I have what I am suppose to have. I have included 3 UPC #'s of the many seed packets I bought for your help in understanding and possibly explaining to me what I really did buy and are they a good variety with or without the name Hybrid? : 065524 065367 064832

Answer: There is nothing like a good seed sale to get us into gardening mode! The hybrid/non-hybrid question confuses many people. Hybrids are simply the result of crossing two different varieties of the same plant to create a specific new, third variety. Many gardeners prefer to use hybrids (when they are available) because they have been developed and chosen on the basis of improved characteristics such as vigor, color, or flavor, or disease resistance.

In some cases, no superior hybrids have been developed and so a plant is only available as the straight species. In other cases, particularly for ornamental plants, the specialty varieties are propagated vegetatively rather than by seed because they do not "come true" from seed.

By now you can tell the answer to your question is "it depends" as to whether or not "hybrid" should be on the packet. Some plants, such as wildflowers or herbs or perennials, are often only available by seed as the straight species. Other plants, particularly vegetables, are usually offered as either named hybrids or as open-pollinated, named seed strains. Finally, some plants are available as the straight species and as hybrids and as seed strains, and gardeners make their choice depending on their own preferences.

In each case, when you purchase seed from a reputable seed house such as Burpee, you should have good quality seeds and the resulting plants should exhibit the characteristics described on the seed packet as well as those generally attributed to the plant. If you made your selections based on that, then you should be fine.

I hope I have answered your question. If you have specific questions about the packets you might wish to contact Burpee Customer Service directly at 1-800-333-5808.

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