Thursday, December 30, 2010

How to Send Seeds Safely Through the Mail Without Being Broken

Until you’ve had some crushed, you probably are not aware of how easily seeds can be crushed in the mail. While some seeds can be sent unpadded and arrive unscathed other seeds can be smashed even after two layers of bubble wrap or a bubble mailer. This guide is designed to offer you two ways to send seeds cheaply through the mail without them being damaged.

We did not create this first method, but it is excellent for sending seeds that are tiny while still meeting the thickness requirements for a first class envelope. This method will keep the package under 1/8", meaning it can be sent with a first class stamp. This method is quick and easy, but it requires Popsicle sticks, which you may not have on hand. For this method, we recommend using some type of card stock. But plain paper should work too. The scissors really aren't necessary unless you want to use them to cut the tape.

Scissors (perhaps?)
Cardstock or index card
2 or more Popsicle Sticks



Start out by cutting your card stock to size to fit your envelope. An index card should fit pretty well inside a normal 3 5/8" x 6 1/2" envelope.

Next, lay your Popsicle sticks on top with enough space between them to fit your seeds. 

 Now, tape over your sticks to hold them firmly in place.  Depending on how many seeds you have to send and the size of the packs, you can use more than two sticks. But two seems to be about right for most cases.

 Afterwards, your seeds go in between your sticks where they will be protected from rollers in the sorting facility and the general weight of other mail. Just use a piece of tape to hold them in place as you see above.  Here we are using Peruvian Torch cactus seeds, which have very little tolerance for abuse.

At this point, the seeds are ready to go into your envelope where they should fit nicely and flatly.

Just to test them, we've placed them beneath 36 lbs of weight.

And there they are...completely untouched.

Now let's get to method two.  We at World Seed Supply used this method for a number of years to send seeds for some of our Ebay orders. Eventually, our order load became too great and we found a reasonable source for bubble mailers.  But this method is still great for the average person.  When we first started shipping seeds, there weren't the same requirements for thickness from USPS.  We were able to bulk the package up as much as we needed. But when the rules changed we had to find something that would stay under 1/8" but still protect the seeds.  We assumed that since bubble mailers offer two layers of protection, that would suffice here.  But we eventually came to learn that three layers of bubble wrap are really what is needed. And they can still pass for the 1/8" thickness requirement, allowing them to be sent as an "envelope with a rigid object."  Seeds that need delivery confirmation cannot be packed using this method since a package must be over 1/4" to add that service. This rule is intended to keep senders from adding delivery confirmation to letters and any other piece of mail.  Without being able to add delivery confirmation, this method is best for inexpensive seeds, sending seeds to someone you know and trust or sending internationally, since international tracking is generally too expensive anyway.  

Scissors (definitely for this one)
12"x12" sheet of bubble wrap
Envelope (3 5/8" x 6 1/2")


Start out with a single 12" x 12" sheet of bubble wrap. This picture shows a piece that is missing a little strip. The one in the first picture is a full sheet.  But it was from the inner part of a roll of some cheap bubble wrap where the bubbles where neraly deflated.  You want something with a little life in it. We will explain more on this later.  But as long as you have one full 12" side, it ill work. You can actually pack two envelopes with one 12"x12" sheet.

The first thing you want to do is fold your bubble wrap in half so that it becomes roughly 6" in length. As you can see, this is about perfect to fit in a 6 1/2" envelope.

 From the folded sheet of bubble wrap, cut a (folded) strip that is a little less than the height of your envelope. You do not want to cut it to the exact height because then it will be tough to close your envelope at the end.  We usually cut it about 1/4" less than the envelope height as shown.

Taking the remainder of the original sheet of bubble wrap, cut off a second folded strip that is the same width or even a little thinner than the strip you made before.  Half of this piece is going to be used for the third layer.  Going back to the concept of bubble thickness, if you have a new roll of bubble wrap, it might be too much to use three layers of that.  So sometimes a piece of the partially deflated bubble wrap from the inside of the roll is good to use for the middle layer. 

Here you see that we snip of the folded end of the strip we just cut.  This serves to separate the two layers so you can use one for the third layer of your homemade bubble mailer.  But it also helps shorten the piece enough so that it can fit in between without hanging out on the end.

And here you see the original strip opened up with the piece you just made placed on one side.  The bubble of the two layers will interlock, increasing the strength and reducing the thickness of the two layers.  You will notice that it is a little less than half the length of the original, which allows the larger piece to be folded nicely. If the little strip is too long or you have it over too far, you can get some bunching up in the corner where the fold is.  If anything, it is best to leave and excesss towards the right end where it can be cut off.

Now it is time to place your seeds on top of the two layers and tape the packet in place.

By folding the other part of the strip over the two layers, you end up with your three-layered padding.

Proceed to trim any ends that need to be trimmed and tape them up. You will notice that the folded end does not need to be taped.

Finally, the padded seeds are placed inside the envelope, and the envelope is cloesed.  You can see that when done neatly, the envelope stays thin.

Once again, 36 lbs. of weight are placed on top to demonstrate the validity of this method.

Just to prove that the seeds are indeed under there.

And again, they are totally unharmed.


  1. Thank you. I am going to try both methods and see which method works best for me.