Seed Envelopes

Trading seeds around the world brings a great variety of envelope and creative seed packaging my way.  A number of European traders make packages of paper with an effective sealing fold on each end. I have seen a fine grade of aluminum foil folded into a packet and placed into a ziplock plastic bag with the species name written on the foil.  There are coin type manila bags, glassine bags, kraft paper bags, and barrier pouch bags used in addition to plastic bags.  I have also seen simple folded paper constructions sealed with tape, as well as custom home-made envelopes with elegant printing, both useful and decorative.

Small plastic bags are probably the most readily available, judging from the relative percentage that I receive.  My own preference is for glassine bags rather than plastic because I find the static charge present in some plastic bags to be an annoyance, and because I have a theory that seeds are living breathing entities that appreciate a bit of air exchange.  The only advantages of glassine bags over the several types of paper bags is visibility of the seeds and lighter weight, which can add up to significant savings when shipping internationally. The  transfer of gasses through paper and glassine is probably minimal, but still much greater than that through plastic or foil. Remember, it's only a theory.  I do prefer plastic bags though when shipping or storing ephemeral seeds which must be kept in damp paper toweling in order to prevent drying out.

The following are commercial sources of seed packaging known to me.

Ziplok plastic:

Store Supply Warehouse, 9801 Page Ave., St. Louis, MO 63132
Their most popular bag is 2" x 3" (#90-111) which is priced at $5.20/1000
There is no minimum order for retail customers, and this bag has the further advantage of having a white writing area on one side of the bag for plant names, etc.


American Mail-Well Envelope, Pavey Division, 25 Linden Ave. East, Jersey City, NJ 07305
1-800-526-3020, ext. 3170 (Dolores), International callers should use (201) 434-2100, x3170
While they do not manufacture these bags, they will buy them for you in carton lots.  A popular bag size is 2" x 3 1/4", but you are required to purchase the entire carton (25,000 pcs.)  They also offer a choice of open-end or open-sided bags. This quantity poses a problem for individuals, but may offer good opportunities for garden clubs and horticultural societies.

Production Seed Packaging Mfg., 526 Route 46 West, Teterboro, NJ 07608
1-800-962-7746 (ask for Leo at Ext. 231)  {VISA accepted), Int'l callers should use (201) 329-6200, x231
Popular sizes include 1 3/4" x 2 3/4", 2" x 2", 2" x 3 1/4", 2 1/4" x 3 1/2",
2 3/4" x 3 3/4", and 2 1/2" x 4 1/4".  These are open-end bags, and there appears to be no minimum order.  The sizes that I use are 2" x 3 1/4" at $29.40 per thousand, and 2 1/2" x 4 1/4" at $35.60 per thousand.  The prices are shocking, but they will pay for themselves in reduced shipping costs, especially when trading internationally.  Woe unto him who has good taste and strong preferences but no money.

Kraft paper:

Production Seed Packaging Mfg., 526 Route 46 West, Teterboro, NJ 07608
1-800-962-7746 (ask for Leo at Ext. 231)  {VISA accepted), Int'l callers should use (201) 329-6200, x231
White Kraft packets will be made to desired sizes, and are offered plain or printed.  These packets feature sift-proof corners, double sealed seams, and a variety of flap seals.  This company also offers barrier pouches and duplex bags.

Bubble Pack Shipping envelopes:

The Polyair Corporation, Office Products Division, has offices in Chicago, New Jersey, California, and Toronto, Canada. You can find or request their products in any office supply store and some industrial supply houses.  The size I prefer is the Eco-lite #00 which is a bubble pack 5" x 10" self sealing envelope, and they are shipped 25 per carton for less than 30 cents each. It is very light in weight, and ideal for international shipping with excellent protection for seeds. There are many manufacturers of similar product.  Jiffy is another good brand. Avoid padded bags if you can get the bubble packs.  The padded bags must be three times heavier, and will increase your postage costs.

Make your own seed envelopes:

The paper stock that you choose for this purpose should be matched to the needs of the design.  Complex folding and/or your intention to ship seeds through the mail calls for lighter weight paper.  Tissue and newsprint are probably too soft, but typewriter tissue or copy papers may work well. Computer paper (20#)  is about right.  Heavy papers up to 60# may be used for long term storage, but are harder to cut, fold, and fasten together.  Choose designs where seeds cannot come into contact with glue or with the sticky surface of sealing tape.

Marge Talt's seed envelope template:

This storage and shipping envelope is the easiest to make because you print the template, then cut it out, fold and seal.  This template makes an envelope that is 2 1/2" x 4" and is a good compromise in size if you prefer to deal with only one size envelope. The image size is 606 x 600 pixels.  If you want a smaller envelope, you can reduce the image size to 500 x 495 pixels and obtain one which is 2" x 3 1/2". The instructions for folding and sealing are printed on the portions of the paper which will be folded to the inside of the envelope.

Barfy Dog's seed envelope template: 

Here is a nicely decorated  storage and shipping envelope that you make with your computer and printer.  Finished size is 2 5/8" x 3 5/8" on my system.  Add seed identification, germination, and cultural data with the text function in L-ViewPro, Paint Shop Pro, or any graphic viewer/editor.  Rotate the image 180º to print your name and address on the flap.  Print in black and white or in color; it looks great either way. Cut out the image; then fold and seal with tape or glue.

Easy Fold Seed Envelope:

This is a neat little  shipping envelope that you can mass produce on your printer.  Its main advantage lies in a rectangular design that requires only four cuts as there is no inside scissor work needed to remove excess paper.  This model is best sealed with tape.  It could easily be made of plastic if you have a bar type heat sealer.  

Seed Shipping Envelope using no tape or glue:

This is a popular shipping envelope style used by European traders.  The sealing fold withstands a lot of abuse without coming undone.  I believe that it is still being used for packaging spices and medicines  at market stalls and small retail stores.  Use the template to practice on your first one. They are so easy to make, that you will soon be making them freehand from paper scraps.

Tom's secret source:

I had never purchased glassine envelopes, until recently, so I must have had a secret source, right?  Well, the secret is out now.  Go to the yellow pages to find your nearest manufacturer of glassine or plastic bags or even paper envelopes.  A peculiarity of this industry, at least here in the Chicago area, is that numerous orders are consigned to the scrap heap each year because of mistakes in production or printing, because the customer changed his/her mind, or because the customer decided not to pay for them.  It amounts to several skid-loads each year which are usually discarded at inventory time. One manufacturer gave me a tour of their discard or (overproduction) area, and offered me full cartons of anything I wanted. The major problem with free bags from the scrap bin is that you have to take what you can get, and finding the exact size you want is a long shot.  

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Thanks to Marge and to Barfy Dog for the use of their templates.