What’s The Difference Between Hybrid and Non-Hybrid Seeds?

At the beginning of the growing season most gardeners, simply head to their nearest garden center and pick up whatever seed packets that are being displayed on the shelf that year, or they skip the seeds and their germination altogether by purchasing seedlings and transplanting those directly into their garden.

And why this works well (sometimes) during “good times” when you can still rely on going back and getting new seed for planting a new crop each year, if you’re thinking in terms of long-term survival or saving your own seed from year to year, then you need to consider buying and stockpiling Non-Hybrid (Heirloom) vegetable seeds.

According to the good folks at Heirloom Organics:

Non-Hybrid or Open-Pollinated seeds allow the gardener to collect seeds from a crop for future planting. Hybrid seeds do not. Heirloom Organics Seed Packs are 100% Non-Hybrid and Non-GMO (genetically modified) and specially sealed for long-term storage. Use now AND save for emergency. All from the same hermetically sealed pack!

And while this is true in most cases, saving seed from year-to-year that grows true, without negative genetic changes is a little more complicated than that. Some plant species, such as corn, okra, and spinach, for example, must “cross-pollinate” each year to remain strong and to be productive.

Constant inbreeding of cross-pollinating plans, even if they are of the non-hybrid variety will result in weak, non-productive plans after the first couple of years. So even if you start with pure non-hybrid, heirloom seed you can’t save the seed of cross-pollinating species, indefinitely without a negative change in the resulting offspring at some point, due to inbreeding of the plants.

The solution to this problem is to simply, buy enough seed to last several years, and store in optimal conditions to ensure germination, or buy several different Non-Hybrid, Non-GMO varieties and cross-pollinate each year.

And now the good news, self-pollinating plant species such as bean, pepper, tomato, eggplant, garlic, and pea can be grown and the seeds saved year-after-year with little or no genetic change in growth, health or overall production. Allowing you to continually feed your family, now and during hard times.

Over the years I’ve seen a lot of folks express concerns about the germination rate of seeds that have been packaged for long-term storage, such as the Non-Hybrid vegetable seeds that are packaged and sold by Heirloom Organics and other seed vendors.

The main concern seems to be that the process and conditions of storing the seed long-term will somehow cause the seed to not germinate (sprout) when planted. After having tested these seeds and their germination rates myself over the past several years, and others have done the same with similar results, I can assure you that germination rates remain just as good or better than seeds stored in a traditional fashion.

Putting back a supply of non-hybrid vegetable seed should be on the to-do list of every, gardener and that applies ten-fold for the “prepper” because we don’t know what will happen, the result or how long the duration.  We can only store so much food, and after it’s gone you’ll have to produce your own or starve.

Just how important is storing seeds for your long-term survival?

If we consider the fact that Monsanto, Bill Gates and other super wealthy contributors have set-up a huge seed bank in what is known as the “Doomsday Seed Vault” whose stated goal is to protect those seeds stored inside against pole-shifts, asteroid collisions, nuclear war, earthquakes, floods, and cross-pollination from genetically modified plant life, then the need becomes obvious, because these people have all of the resources and probably inside sources that keep them informed about what is going to happen and how to prepare for it…

Doomsday Seed Vault, SkyNews

Controlling the seeds (and thus the world’s food) will allow them to control the world and you.


  1. Purchasing heirloom vegetable seeds on line from the major seed “houses” such as Burpee or Park’s may be ok. I’ve done it in the past. But, I have misgivings about the purity of the seed. I have used a Sustainable Seed Company for the last two years. They seem to have a selection of seeds for various vegetables that your grandparents might have planted. I have not saved any seeds from my crop to date, but plan on that with the 2018 garden.

  2. Question for those who save seed: after drying, what is your favorite container? Paper envelopes, baggies, freezer bags, old pill bottles. Thanks for input.

    • I put my seeds in small coin envelopes (you can buy large quantities for cheap from office supply stores). I mark the envelopes with the year, the type of seed, Spring or Fall planting, and depth / plant spacing. THEN, I put about 20 envelopes in quart size Ziploc bags and put those inside metal cookie tins. Those are then stored in a spare refrigerator! LOL Talk about packaging! But that’s just me…..

      • All of the above. Proper storage after that is key. You’ll want to keep the seeds in dated, marked containers in a cool, dark environment and safe from critters like mice and bugs.

  3. “self-pollinating plant species such as bean, pepper, tomato, eggplant, garlic, and pea can be grown and the seeds saved year-after-year with little or no genetic change in growth, health or overall production.”

    I saved my seeds from my Pepper, Bush Beans and Tomatoes last year and started the batch for this year. So far I have tomato and pepper seedlings…still waiting for the bush beans…fingers crossed….LOL…If not I have a seed vault to choose from.

  4. i mostly buy foundation seed from local/regional companies that grow their own. that way, i know the plants i want to grow have done well in my region.
    i store the seeds i save in labeled paper wraps, place these is mason glass jars, and put them in the coldest part of my frig. about half of the open pollinated seeds i use are from my own saved seeds.

  5. Claiming that Hybrid plants are useless for seed saving is not true. My own experiences over many years of gardening have shown quite a different result. I have easily “de-hybridized” the Early Girl tomato simply by saving seeds from this “Hybrid” tomato. I just put a few dozen of the damaged or overripe tomatoes into a bucket and mashed them up with a hoe, added some water and let it ferment for two weeks stirring and mashing occasionally with the hoe. Then add more water, stir, and pour off the scum, floating skins and unfermented pulp. The seeds sink to the bottom. Rinse several times then drain and dry in the shade. For long term keeping I use silica gel to drive the moisture content down very low. I then store the seeds in a small glass bottle at room temperature which are viable for at least 5 years.. I also put some in the freezer as my doomsday vault. When I plant these seeds I sometimes get a variety of tomato plants with a variety of fruit, a few which are not useful. However, that said, there are a multitude of these plants that have useful fruit and several that have plants and fruit that are indistinguishable from the original Hybrid mother plant. It’s genetics have not really settled yet since it is an F1 from the Hybrid and is considered to be a “Grex” using Carol Deppe’s definition. This plant, if seeds are saved, can give you a dehybridized new variety which is almost exactly like the original hybrid. I also did this with the famous “Kumato” variety that is so popular in the stores. However, this “grex” grew true to seed on it’s first F1 and the F2 and F3 and F4 followed true as well. I found that if you plant seeds saved from “Hydrid” plants, you will, in general, produce a lot of good vegetables, some maybe better than the original. I have done this with spinach and corn as well as other crops.