Suttons is an internationally renowned supplier of flower and vegetable seeds, young plants, bulbs, fruit bushes and other horticultural products. We have a reputation for quality and service that is second to none, plus a remarkable 200-year history.
In 1806, John Sutton (1777-1863) founded the Suttons brand. Originally called the ‘House of Sutton’, the company was located on King Street, Reading, and concentrated on growing and supplying corn (maize).
Now joined by his sons, Martin Hope Sutton and Alfred Sutton, the business moved to Market Place in Reading. John’s sons induced him to diversify into the flower and vegetable seed trade.
In 1840, the company established a laboratory to test its seeds for germination and purity – a practice that became law 80 years later with the passing of the Seeds Act, 1920. Sutton's seed-testing station was one of the first to be licensed by the Government. We still have our own seed testing laboratory, plus trial grounds, and our varieties continue to be tested to ensure high germination, quality and purity levels.
By this time, the ‘House of Sutton’ had become Sutton & Sons. Martin Hope Sutton had acquired nursery grounds and a greenhouse, and the company was now also selling plants from the local area and from Holland.
Suttons received Royal patronage in 1858, when Queen Victoria requested Martin Hope Sutton to supply seeds to the Royal household. The honour of the Royal Warrant has been bestowed on the firm ever since - right up to the present day with Her Majesty the Queen.
Innovations in tools and machinery allowed the Sutton & Son business to grow, and the company expanded into new offices and warehouse space. These offices included Export, Ledger, Order and Invoice, plus separate rooms for flower seeds and vegetable seeds, bulbs, potatoes, grass and root seed, and farm seed. It also included recreation rooms, an exhibition department and even its own fire station (with cottages for the firemen!). Despite advances in motorised modes of transport, the business still kept horses in its stables.
In 1962, Sutton & Son moved to new premises situated on the main London to Bath road (A4). At the time, the premises were the most up to date of their kind in the country!
The business strived to constantly develop the horticultural industry and was the first company to offer foil packets to the amateur gardener in the UK – after developing the Harvest Fresh Foil seed packet system over many previous years.
The business moved to Torquay, Devon in 1976 and moved to its current home in Paignton, Devon, in 1998.
Suttons celebrated its 200th anniversary with a staff party, issued a special catalogue and a book documenting the company’s history, Suttons Seeds - The Definitive History, was published by Reading University Press.
In 2017, our Dwarf Mulberry ‘Charlotte Russe’ was crowned as Plant of the Year at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. An incredibly proud moment for all at Suttons, the Charlotte Russe was the first ever edible to win the coveted prize. This dwarf, compact variety only reaches a height of approximately 1.5m (compared to normal mulberries that can reach up to 8m in height), making it suitable for any garden. It’s self-pollinating, fully hardy and fruits on both old and new wood, meaning you can be picking mulberries within the first year as opposed to the usual 8 or 9 years it takes most other mulberries.
In 2019, our Sedum Atlantis was awarded the prestigious Plant of the Year title at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Two of our six Plant of the Year nominations achieved 'Finalist' status and to win Plant of the Year 2019 was simply marvellous. Sedum Atlantis was & is a plant for our times. Drought tolerant, suitable for small spaces and attractive to bees. Its striking foliage forms rosettes of serrated green leaves with thick, creamy margins and tips that turn a pink blush in the autumn, before the pink tinged flower buds open to bee magnet yellow flowers.
Suttons continues to carry out all packaging and distribution from the sunny English Riviera! We maintain our reputation as horticultural industry innovators with recent developments including our Turbo-Grafting process, new and improved vegetable and flower varieties, plus exclusive ranges including heritage and ‘back from the brink’ varieties.
We have also modernised our stance on sustainability & the environment to become industry leaders in plastic waste and beyond. Our nursery in Devon has gone Peat Free, the first major nursery in the UK to achieve this and we have also switched our packing materials & plant pots to be recyclable. Read more about the Suttons Sustainability story here.