A new report out from Which? Gardening states that seed suppliers continue to fall below the minimum legal standards set by The Vegetable Seeds Regulations 2002 for overall quality of vegetable and flower seeds.

Which? Gardening tested the ability of 17 seed suppliers to meet the minimum germination requirements on a White Lisbon Spring Onion. Seven of the seed suppliers tested failed the test. The seven companies which failed this test were: Thompson and Morgan, Kings, Unwins, Marshalls, Edwin Tucker and Sons, Suffolk Herbs, and Simpson’s Seeds.

The vegetable trial showed that Unwins White Lisbon Spring Onion seeds were only able to germinate successfully 57 percent of the time. Another company, Simpson’s Seeds provided more than 41 percent dead White Lisbon Spring Onion seeds during the same trial. An additional test, using Hesta bean seeds, found Simpson’s seed germination successfully only 41 percent of the time. The minimum standard for germination of vegetable seeds is 80 percent.

The flower trial also saw many poor results although there is currently no required legal minimum for the germination of flower seeds. Although Johnson’s Basket Beauties Begonias seeds were dead 27 percent of the time during the trial, the company did surprisingly well in other areas and overall. Mr. Fothergill’s also did well overall, despite the fact that the company’s Illumination Mixed Begonias were found to be dead 21 percent of the time. In the flower germination trial, Unwins again produced unsuccessful plants, with only 27 percent of the company’s Glory of Seville Geraniums being successfully germinated. Additionally, Thompson and Morgan came in with a poor showing, as 39 percent of their Nonstop Begonia seeds were also dead.

A comparison between previous Which? Gardening trials and this most recent test of germination shows a significant increase in seed viability and germination rates.

Head of Research from Which? Gardening, Richard Gianfrancesco, said the company is happy to see the overall germination quality of seeds improving.

And despite the poor showing from several companies in the trial, there were ten seed companies that showed well during the trial. For instance, healthy seedlings were born from 94 percent of the seed purchased at Nicky’s Nurseries. Dobies, along with its sister company, Suttons, both did well in terms of germination, and their web sites and catalogues each received high marks as well.

Gianfrancesco said there is still much needed improvement in the industry as many consumers are still purchasing and attempting to sow seeds that are already dead.