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Are coated (pelleted) seeds really worth the hype?

August 15, 2022

You've probably heard some ongoing chatter regarding coated (also known as "pelleted") seeds and if they are any better than regular, uncoated seeds. In this article, we'll briefly review the particulars of this topic.

Specifically, we'll discuss what coated seeds are, review the pros and cons of coated seeds, and then examine the benefits of the coating compared to no coating. So, let's uncover the facts!

Male hand holding coated soybean seeds

A hand holding coated soybean seeds

Just what exactly is pelleted or coated seed?

Whether it's herbs, various plants, flowers, or even vegetables—all start the same way: from a seed. Seeds come in all sizes and shapes, and many share one notable characteristic: they're tiny!

Planters have been trying to improve the process of getting a seed to germinate and develop into a plant for millennia. Egyptians pelleted their seeds with a mixture of clay back in the times of the pyramids.

Very simply put, the coating adds bulk to seeds, making them larger and easier to plant.

Ferry-Morse Sow Easy® seeds are pelleted with an all-natural coating made from a mix of clay, perlite, and FDA-approved food coloring.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of seed coating?

Here are some of the advantages:

  • Adds bulk to tiny seeds in bright or light colors contrasting against the soil, making direct sowing and spacing easier.
  • Increases the percentage of seeds that germinate.
  • Enhances hydration and moisture retention.

Here are some of the negative things you might have read or heard:

  • Concerns about unsafe chemicals in the coating.
  • Worry that coated seeds are more expensive than uncoated seeds.
  • Anecdotes that coated seeds don't germinate as well as uncoated seeds.

Is it better to use coated seeds?

Ferry-Morse Sow Easy® pelleted seeds only contain three things besides the seed: FDA-approved coloring, clay, and perlite. 

Furthermore, higher germination rates mean that coated seeds are a better value based on yield per seed.

Regarding the negative information about coated seeds where planters mention suboptimal experiences, consider that consumers with positive experiences tend to speak up less.

Male hand holding corn seeds ready for planting in a farm field

A hand holding corn seeds ready for planting in a farm field

Consider the science

Coated seed germination time is better on average than uncoated seeds, and pelleted seeds sprout more abundantly. If you'd like to learn more, it's worth your time to check out the research on this topic.

Coated carrot seeds ready to plant in a garden

Coated carrot seeds in the palm of a hand, ready to plant in a garden

So, should I use pelleted seeds in my garden? 

The best planting happens when we learn from trusted sources, such as agricultural extension offices and universities. And academic investigations into this subject consistently reveal the positive aspects of using coated seeds.

All the major agricultural companies use coated seeds because the standardization of size and shape and the higher yield percentage make it profitable. So, while you likely are not planting for profit, it's an interesting observation. After all, these companies are only looking for the best results!

So, we encourage you to give coated seeds a try! Ferry-Morse Sow Easy® seeds come with free shipping offers and support. Feel free to share your results on social media, tagging us for a chance to be featured.

Also, please consider joining our gardening community, where one of our verified ambassadors or community members will respond with an answer to your question.