Suttons : Royal seedsmen

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suttons seeds

suttons seeds logoSuttons was founded by John Sutton of Reading, Berkshire,  in 1806 to supply agricultural seed. In 1832 he was joined by his sons and in 1837 they persuaded him to move into the flower and vegetable seed trade. From this time the firm expanded rapidly, particularly with the introduction of the Royal mail system in 1840 and I.K. Brunel’s Great Western Railway later that same year.

suttons seeds

Suttons catalogue of 1889

Suttons received their first official recognition of Royal patronage in 1858, when Queen Victoria requested Martin Hope Sutton to supply seeds to the Royal household. Suttons Seeds have held a Royal Warrant ever since, and are currently suppliers to HM The Queen. The company is part of the group Vilmorin, founded as a plant and seed boutique in 1742 by seed expert Claude Geoffroy and her husband Pierre Andrieux, the chief seed supplier and botanist to King Louis XV of France.

suttons bulbs

Flowers from Suttons seed

In 1976 the company relocated to Torbay in beautiful Devon in the west country of England. In 1997 the company name was changed to Suttons Consumer Products Limited reflecting the diversification into garden products and in 1998 the company relocated to its present custom built factory in Paignton, also in Devon.

Suttons have a long association with the sourcing, selection and production of seeds and plants. With the Victorian  interest in botany and gardening and the vogue for green houses, Suttons were well placed to serve the growing demand for high quality seeds and plants to be delivered directly to a growing market throughout the UK and across the empire.

suttons seeds

Home grown tomatoes

In 1840, the company was the first to establish its own trial grounds and seed testing laboratory (which continues today), where varieties are tested to ensure high germination, quality and purity levels.

During the second worls war and widespread food rationing, the Ministry of Food encouraged citizens to grow their own fruit and vegetables at home and waste ground called allotments. The projexct was famously names ‘Dig for Victory’ and Suttons played a key part in that drive.

Suttons seeds

Suttons blueberry pot plant

Suttons fill approximately 25 million packets of seed each year, sold alongside other gardening products such as young plants, bulbs, garden tools and a wide range of gardening equipment . Other well known brands associated with or owned outright by Suttons include Dobies, Carters and Ferndale Lodge.



Suttons are again seeing a resurgence of interest from people growing their own vegetables and fruit, particularly in urban settings. Allotments are now again over-subscribed such is their regained popularity country wide. Planting vegetable and fruit plants at home in the garden or in pots on a patio is seen as a great way to interest and educate children in nature with the added bounty of  fresh home grown food for the table.

dig for victory

Ministry of Food - encourages the home front war effort


Suttons operates two main divisions, mail order and retail. Their  mail order service is also available to trade and horticultural society customers. Promotions regularly feature in the national press with high profile ‘reader offers’  and their extensive seed, plant and accessories products are available at leading garden centres, chain stores and independent shops across the UK.  Suttons also has an export department supplying its seed products across the globe, details of which can be found on their website.


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