Seed & plant finding tool from Mother Earth News

by Caroline Brown

I just learned about the Plant and Seed Finder from Mother Earth News. It’s a Google-based search tool for 150+ online plant and seed catalogs–simply type in the specific name of the plant or seed you’re looking for and you can quickly find all the different online suppliers. Very handy indeed this time of year.

I did a couple of quick test searches for some shrubs that I was looking for last year and couldn’t find. Last spring, I was specifically trying to find Ilex verticillata ‘red sprite’ and Ilex verticillata ‘jim dandy,’ female and male pollinator varieties of winterberry shrubs, for a garden I was working on. I can’t remember the exact site conditions that prompted me to want those exact varieties but I couldn’t find them anywhere. So I ended up ditching the idea all together and planting viburnums instead.

Using the Plant & Seed Finder, I found one supplier for ‘red sprite’ and two for ‘jim dandy.’ If I had realized the two were so hard to find at the time I was spec’ing out the project, I would never have wasted my time trying to find them. In fact if I had known that they were so hard to find, I would have suggested different varieties from the very beginning.

I would like it a little better if I could know exactly which plant and seed companies are included in the search, but it may be too difficult to do that for some reason. It would be great if the 150 companies could be listed by region! But I’m getting carried away. I suppose. Anyway, check it out if you’re seed/plant shopping for something particular and can’t find it–it could save you a lot of frustration.

If you try it and have an opinion, I’d love to hear what you think.


10 Responses to “Seed & plant finding tool from Mother Earth News”

  1. fantastic!!
    thank you!

  2. fantastic!
    thank you!!

  3. Love your blog! I also love gardening and am trying to get my very new blog out there to interested people. Wish I had your climate, soil, etc etc, girl. But am having fun and adventures trying to get going here in the Colorado mountains.

  4. I got the same e-mail invitation from them, and did try it. I wasn’t impressed, unfortunately. I think it’s better to just run your own Google search and keep mining the results.

    That this utility uses Google means it’s Google’s ranking algorithms that determine which companies are listed, which is why they can’t specifically tell you how the list is derived. The big boys usually benefit with that arrangement; many people don’t bother to go past the third or fourth page of hits on a Google results page, so the mom&pop shops are largely ignored.

    I searched for seeds for native plants that I winter-sowed this year and (a) the company I bought from wasn’t in the hits list although they have been around for about 25 years, and (b) Burpee and Park Seed were both prominently listed (sponsored links, I think) even though they don’t offer the seeds I was looking for.

    I find that if you search for a plant by its common or cultivar name you most often find vendor sites, but if you search by its botanical names that’s when you get a lot of hits from hort sites.

  5. Huh, maybe I looked at it wrong. Maybe the cultivars I was interested in only showed a couple of times b/c the tool only includes the bigger companies. I didn’t get why they couldn’t just list the companies but now I do. Thanks for explaining in better detail Firefly.

  6. Great post. Am definitely a fan of your blog, keep up the good work.


  7. I’m learning about gardening and really enjoyed what you wrote. Thanks for spending the time to write it!!

  8. Plant A seed for future…..
    its never myself…
    its for ourself….


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