hybrid or heirloom seeds

Can’t decide which seeds to buy- hybrid or heirloom? Then read about their various advantages and disadvantages to help you decide better.

When you shop for flowers or vegetable seeds for your garden, there are two main types to choose from: modern hybrids or  traditional heirloom varieties. Hybrid seeds are produced by breeding together two different, but related varieties of a plant to incorporate desirable characteristics such as increased productivity, disease resistance, improved colour or other visual attributes in decorative plants. It is one of the major factors behind a dramatic rise in agricultural output during the last half of 20th century.

hybrid or heirloom seeds
Heirloom or Hybrid

Heirloom seeds, often called ‘Grandmother’s seeds’, are old-time varieties, open-pollinated instead of hybrid, and saved and handed down through multiple generations of families. If unique tastes, textures, smells, forms, and other unique traits are more important to you, consider heirloom seeds. Read through and decide for yourself which seeds suit your purpose best.

Hybrid Seeds


  • Increased productivity of the plants
  • More uniform shape and size of the fruit
  • Uniform harvest times and yields
  • More resistant to pests and diseases
  • Improved ability to withstand hot or cold temperatures
  • Delayed bolting to seed that allows an extended harvest period.
  • Production of larger and more colourful flowers
  • More consistent blooming patterns in flowers
hybrid or heirloom seeds
Uniform yield of hybrid variety Brinjal

Hybrid seeds can increase the total yield by up to 25 percent. They are best suited for new gardeners and for those who don’t have a lot of time to care for their gardens.  Hybrids are specifically bred to be more resistant to problems and require less care. Uniform harvests and harvest times mean easier planning for the event so you can devote a weekend to a particular crop yield.


  • Expensive
  • Require more exacting horticulture
  • Subsequent generations do not have same uniformity – Plants from second generation of seeds may not share desired traits of first generation hybrid seeds and may have extremely low productivity
hybrid or heirloom seeds
Hybrid variety cucumber

Unlike tomatoes and potatoes, where the price fluctuations are extreme and unpredictable, cucumber has a steady market throughout the year in India. Hybrid cucumbers are grown widely in Karnataka region. Farmers in Karnataka prefer to grow hybrid as it yields five to ten times more fruits than other open-pollinated and non-hybrid cucumber varieties, ensuring them a well-distributed income all through-out the year.

Heirloom Seeds


  • Renewability

Heirlooms allow the ability to preserve the seeds from a crop you like and plant them again next year. There is no need to buy new bags of seeds every time when you have collected your own. In this way, you can become self-reliant with your own crops. Allow a few plants each year in your garden to obtain seeds, and then harvest the seeds from those plants for planting in next year’s garden. This saves money, and can be very helpful in the event of a seed shortage in your area.

hybrid or heirloom seeds
Heirloom tomato varieties
  • Heritage

Preserving and growing your own heirlooms allows you to become part of the legacy, collecting and nurturing varieties that best suit your area and climate.

  • More nutritious

Even though hybrids may often out-yield heirlooms, it turns out we’re now paying a hidden cost for this emphasis on higher yields. Heirloom vegetables are likely to be more nutritious than newer varieties.

  • Flavour

Many heirloom vegetables have been saved for decades and even centuries because they are the best performers in the home and market gardens. They tend to have a better, more unique taste and quality than their hybrid cousins. As long as a species is kept heirloom, its genetic distinctiveness and exclusive flavours and traits are preserved. 

hybrid or heirloom seeds

  • Less uniform

Heirloom vegetables are “less uniform” than hybrids, which means they often don’t ripen all at once. It gives a gradual supply of fresh produce to home gardeners, unlike hybrid seeds.

  • Less expensive

Heirlooms are easier to find and produce, making it cheaper than hybrid ones.

  • Easy to grow

In comparison to hybrids, heirlooms are easier to grow because they do not need strict growing conditions. You can use heirloom seeds with any method of growing you choose but for health and sustainability, many gardeners in recent years have completely switched to organic gardening.


  • Less resistant to pests and diseases
  • Low productivity in long run
  • Less uniform fruit shape and size 
Hybrid or Heirloom seeds
Hybrid or Heirloom seeds

Like so many things in life, there is a trade-off to be made no matter what decision you go with. Both hybrid and heirloom seeds have their own advantages and disadvantages.  Fun of gardening is trying all of the different options available and seeing what you prefer and don’t like. Since seeds can be saved almost indefinitely if you keep them under the right conditions, it doesn’t hurt to buy several packets of different types and just plant a few of each and see which you like best. After a couple of years of comparison, you can start to get an idea of which ones seem to be working for you. 

Happy Gardening

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