Whether they’re located in Canada (the second country in the world to have legalized cannabis use, after Uruguay!), the Netherlands, the United States, the United Kingdom, or Spain, there are certain things that reputable seed banks have in common.
First off, what makes the best online seed banks stand out is simple: basic logistics and customer service. The same kind of stuff we would expect from any dependable online retailer, whether they sell books, phone chargers, face cream, or marijuana seeds.
Other than that, certain things are very specific to the seeds niche. And not just any seeds; they’re rather unique to the market of cannabis seeds.
The oddity about weed seeds? They’re expensive, compared to most floral, fruit, or vegetable seeds! Can you think of any of those that go for close to or over ten bucks a pop?
Not in order of importance: Crop King Seeds, one of the most reputable seeds banks in Canada, the Ministry of Cannabis, based out of Spain and a great place to shop for seeds in sets of two, and ‘I love growing marijuana‘ a most dependable seed bank from the Netherlands (and the best place to order from if you’re in the USA or Australia).
Basic Customer Service
The overall vibe of an online store you can tell by browsing their website. Is the site lay-out pleasant to navigate and intuitive? Do the strains have a decent amount of information on their individual pages? These things reflect a certain level of care right off the bat.
Then, there’s the people behind the virtual facade that is the on-screen storefront.
How to reach customer service should be clear and easy to find. Even though cannabis seeds are still not legal in many countries or states, an online retailer without clear contact details is never a good thing.
But maybe they prefer to be stealthy, considering the stigma that still surrounds all things related to marijuana, you might think? That may be true for individuals. For companies – not so much.
Think of it this way: if you place (and pay for) an order of seeds, but you don’t even know how to reach out to the seller if you hit a snag anywhere in the process of awaiting your parcel and starting to grow?
It could be that you’re just a very positive person who trusts things to turn out well. A commendable attitude in many situations, but in this case, it’s a gamble. Before trusting them with your money, it is crucial to check whether a seed bank has contact details listed.
The next step: someone answers when you reach out.
Obvious, perhaps, but equally crucial nonetheless. It happens! Just because contact details are made available does not necessarily mean your attempts to reach out won’t fall on deaf ears.
We’ve all seen reviews of people who mention they’ve repeatedly contacted a seller in vain.
Next-level Customer Service
Alright, so the basics check out. That’s cool. But there’s more. Unless you’re really wealthy, marijuana seeds count as high ticket items. Shopping at a place that has a few additional guarantees in place can make all the difference. Let’s take a look at seed banks that take things next level when it comes to resolving any issue you may have. Ideally, they’ll do so in a way that makes you a) happy and b) want to come back for more.
Problems with Shipping
talk about how the better seed banks assume the risks seeds may face while underway. crushed seeds, lost parcels (there is either tracking or no tracking – with no tracking there s usually a time set after which a parcel is considered lost. with tracking things are simple since the location can be traced. delayed, means waiting, delivered shows, stolen is hard to prove – it is fair for a seller to go by tracking and exclude this from their replacement sending but maybe take your word for it? – are are limitations
Very few items in the postal circuits disappear randomly and for no good reason. It happens – just extremely rarely. If your seeds don’t make it, it usually is because of customs. So that’s the main thing guaranteed delivery protects against: customs getting all up in your business.
Each country may have their own way of dealing with cannabis seeds and the interception thereof. In the United States, having a few marijuana seeds en route to your address is not typically something that will get you in trouble.
At worst, customs confiscates the contents of your parcel and insert a generic letter instead, stating they took the seeds because it’s not something allowed for import.
Every seed bank has a different way in which they offer guaranteed delivery. It can be included in the seed prices, optional at a surcharge, or not available at all. As long as they are up-front about what to expect so that you can make an informed choice as the whether to place an order or not.
Guaranteed to Sprout
Germination guarantee is covered under ‘seed viability’, further down this page.
Would you say you have grown accustomed to sales, special deals, discounts, and freebies? Because I know that is the case for most people around me, including myself!
Sometimes you choose to buy something simply because you need or want it, but other times I am most definitely lured in and pushed to action by a type of incentive.
It’s basic human nature in the era of online shopping and technology, I suppose. First, you determine the need or desire for a certain product, then you browse around to find out who offers an incentive as closely aligned as possible with what you’ve been meaning to buy anyway.
Some seed banks don’t use coupon codes at all. Others send out newsletters with discounts that can be redeemed automatically during a certain time frame, or by filling out a code upon checkout. True North gives 20% for signing up for their newsletter. The Ministry of Cannabis and Grower’s Choice Seeds come out with discounts regularly throughout the year, either via a code or applied automatically at checkout.
Specific Sale Pages
ILGM has a specific page with special deals. So does Amsterdam Marijuana Seeds.
The 10+10 free seeds is used by both Amsterdam Marijuana Seeds and ILGM. ILGM (short for I love growing marijuana) pretty much always has a certain selection of strains on sale that way. They rotate through all festivities and holidays on the calendar, from new years to Christmas.
Some seed banks give out free seeds with an order. The number of seeds is usually directly related to the order size. Logical and straight-forward. It’s not by choice, though. If you’re wondering which strain you may be getting as a freebie, this is often specified on your order summary, before check-out.
Of course, the value of the incentive has to be weighed against the overall reputation of the seed bank. Free seeds, big discounts, or other stellar deals from a place that ranks poorly in reviews ultimately is a bit of a crap-shoot.
Product quality in the case of marijuana seeds boils down to the viability of the seeds and, once you get them growing, the genetics of the strains.
Viability of Seeds
The foundation of any reputable seed bank is the quality of their product. Plant health further down the line depends largely on the environment and the treatment you subject them to. Seed viability, on the other hand, is something the better seed banks are happy to guarantee to some extent.
Not that it is impossible to mess things up so early in the game, because it is. The fact that the best online seed banks will help you out if seeds don’t germinate is part fair and part courtesy.
Look at it this way: they would like to see you come back every 3 to 6 months for more seeds. If the lion’s share of seeds doesn’t sprout, it could be due to bad seeds or related to something you did or didn’t do. Either way, you’ll probably be moving on to a competitor for your next growing attempt.
That’s why certain seed banks are willing to take on the risk of seeds not sprouting and hold our hand through the first part of the process. That, and the fact that it could really be due to faulty seeds. Hard to tell.
To build a reputation of trust with (potential) customers, certain seed banks guarantee all or a high percentage of seeds to sprout.
In this case, I’m using the word ‘genetics’ as the umbrella term for:
- Does a seed bank have a nice selection of strains?
- Do they have a lot of variety, or do they specialize in certain types of strains?
- What’s their take on classics, such as White Widow, Kush, or Blueberry?
- Are they hip to newer trends in terms of strains? (It seem like every breeder comes out with a version of ‘Gelato’ these days!)
That’s before even ordering and starting seeds. While growing, what matters is whether:
- Strains are what they’re supposed to be, with all of the promised characteristics
- Feminized seeds grow into female plants
- The size of plants and scent and flavor of flowers are within expectations
The ‘Natural Product’ Disclaimer
Some seed banks have a line or two in their fine print, respectfully asking us to remember that seeds are a natural product. As such, it can never be controlled for the full 100 percent.
That’s only fair. And true. Typically, the best seed banks do have great, viable seeds. However, it is more about how they handle an issue than about the impossible task of controlling the behavior of every single seed they send out.
Understandably, you’re eager to get growing and any kind of delay is disappointing. But as long as the seed bank offers prompt assistance and an acceptable solution in the case of an issue, that’s all we can reasonably ask for.
Reputable Seed Banks
Through personal interactions as well as countless hours of research into the experiences of others, I have singled out the most reputable seed banks. Note that this is the general consensus online. You may have a different experience both ways.
Even if you choose to order from a place with many poor reviews, seeds could very well arrive swiftly, sprout perfectly fine, and grow into fabulous plants.
And if you go with one of the best seed banks, you might just be one of their less fortunate customers and find yourself waiting for seeds to be re-sent seeds multiple times.
However, in that case, at least you’ll know that someone is taking the matter to heart, which is better than being out a few hundred bucks and nothing to show for.
Ministry of Cannabis
The Ministry of Cannabis is a very reputable seed bank located in Spain. What’s nice about their store is that you can order as few as two seeds of the same strain.
Even though the minimum order value is 25 euros, this lets you mix things up a little, for relatively cheap by comparison. Ministry of Cannabis ships worldwide and will send your order again if it doesn’t make it.
Crop King Seeds
Crop King Seeds is one of the best reputable seed banks in Canada. They used to have only twenty-something strains or so. Now, they have a whole lot more, including high THC, high CBD, auto-flowering, and fast-flowering strains.
Wondering what fast-flowering strains are? They’re not auto-flowering, but much faster than regular feminized seeds and perfectly adapted to a short growing season. As is the case in Northern regions like Canada, of course.
I Love Growing Marijuana
‘I love growing marijuana‘, also known as ILGM, is a Dutch seed bank and breeder. They only ship to the United States and Australia, but it’s free and delivery guaranteed.
The “10+10 free seeds” sales ILGM runs on a regular basis is one of the best deals you’ll find online, considering the shipping and guaranteed delivery is free on those as well. Everything about this place, not in the least their customer service, is above par.
Amsterdam Marijuana Seeds
AMS, short for Amsterdam Marijuana Seeds, is another seed bank in the Netherlands. They too have lots of 10+10 free seeds offers (it must be a Dutch thing?) on their promo page.
Shipping is free and worldwide, excluding a shortlist of countries that have very strict customs regulations. (For which countries they do not ship to, check out our review of AMS or the FAQ page on their website.)
To get a sense of where they stand in terms of customer service, browsing reviews online reveals a lot.
Preferably not on the company’s own website, because we can’t tell whether those reviews have been modified, or cherry-picked. For our seed bank reviews, I always check how well they do on independent review sites. I also love diving deep into forum threads to learn about people’s experiences.
Note that you won’t find a Cannabis seed bank without any negative reviews. Sometimes things that go wrong are beyond their control. Sometimes people blame them publicly, before even reaching out to customer service.
It’s unfortunate when a complaint is posted publicly but doesn’t get updated once the seed bank and customer resolve things. But even though they may be somewhat skewed on occasion, reviews are usually insightful.
The most important thing is not to find a seed bank with only positive reviews, but one that handles negative ones with elan, dedication, and generosity. That’s what makes them reputable.
Photo credit: Matthew Brodeur.