Mr Fothergill's, Unwins, B&Q, Thompson & Morgan and Johnsons failed to win the magazine's recommendation. But Wilkinsons, Dobbies, Marshalls and Suttons fared well. Suttons and Dobies are the same company, as are Marshalls and Unwins and Mr Fothergill's and Johnsons. Suttons supplies B&Q seeds and Mr Fothergill's supplies Wilkinsons.
Johnsons' Lelia Russell said: "We do not accept the findings." Mr Fothergill's Ian Cross said they were a "muddle". Thompson & Morgan representative Helen Johns said: "This snapshot view is interesting, if not fully comprehensive." Which Gardening? editor Ceri Thomas said some firms "fell down on customer satisfaction".
The magazine tested the top 10 seed brands across 10 vegetables and 10 flowers. An International Seed Testing Association laboratory tested the seeds for germination and packet instructions. Survey ratings of 2,140 seed-buying Which? members counted for 40 per cent of the scores.
Which? suggested arguing that retailers were in breach of contract under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 if germination was not good. Surveyors found 93 per cent of Johnsons 'Little Gem' were dead.