We are constantly asked the difference between heirloom, hybrid and GMO.

It’s a great question to ask and one that can be a bit complicated. Here we have summed it up for you.

Hybrid Seeds

A hybrid vegetable is created when plant breeders intentionally cross-pollinate two different varieties of a plant. This is done to create a plant that has specific qualities. Think of it much like crossing two specific types of animals to get a specific offspring. Seed is, after all, off spring of its parent plants.  A hybrid contains the best traits of two parent plants that come from “pure lines”. These are two parent plants that have been grown for many, many season to ensure the desirable traits that the breeder wants to cross are prominent. The breeder then carefully creates offspring from the two pure lines (parent plants) to get a F-1 hybrid. This is the first generation hybrid.  There are some advantages to hybridization. Plants can be created that have outstanding qualities. Particularly they can create varieties that have heavy yields and uniform plants. This is advantageous to large scale farms who depend on mechanical harvesting. The drawback is that you cannot save seed from a hybrid plant as that seed will not give you the qualities of the hybrid.  The seed planted will result in one of the two parent plants. Here are San Diego Seed Company, we only offer heirloom seeds. We do that because we want gardeners to save seeds successfully and heirloom plants are the easiest to do that with.


GMOs are Genetically Modified Organisms. This is a process during which the plant’s DNA is altered in a way that cannot occur naturally, and sometimes includes the insertion of genes from other species. Here are San Diego Seed Company 100% of our seed is GMO-FREE.


Heirloom seeds are old varieties of plants that have been around for some time. Although how experts define heirlooms can vary,  it typically means  they are at least 50 years old, and are often pre-WWII varieties. Most heirlooms come from seed that has been handed down for generations in a particular region or area and hand-selected by gardeners for a special trait. Some varieties have been created by agricultural programs. Heirlooms tent to have more flavor, color and other characterizes that are beneficial to the home gardeners or small scale urban farms.

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