What All Those Weird Abbreviations in Seed Catalogs Mean

What do all those weird plant terms, abbreviations, and acronyms mean?

Sometimes flipping through a simple seed catalog can feel like you're trying to decipher a science book when you see all those horticultural terms tossed around.

Cut through the jargon and learn how to read your seed catalogs and seed packets like a pro with this complete list on seed terminology. (All explained in layman's terms!)


Open-pollinated seeds

Denoted as (OP), open-pollinated seed varieties are pollinated naturally by wind, insects, birds, or humans.


F1 hybrids

F1 hybrid seeds are created through the selective cross-pollination of two different parent plants. Plants grown from F1 hybrids exhibit characteristics that are dominant in each parent, but are not identical to either.


Biodynamic seeds

Biodynamic seeds are open-pollinated varieties grown on soil that has been biodynamically cared for, adhering to strict guidelines about germination rates and following all biodynamic gardening principles (including no pesticide use and no complex treatment in labs).



This acronym stands for All-America Selection. It’s an award given by an independent American horticultural organization that tests new varieties of seeds every year and judges them based on performance.



Stratification (also called cold stratification) is the process of exposing seeds to cold and moist conditions to break their dormancy and promote germination.

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