The company first sold garden seeds, farm supplies, tools, poultry and hogs. The direction of the company began to change with the death of its founder in 1915 when his son, David Burpee, inherited the firm. David was interested in war or victory gardens and was an early promoter of the concept during World War I. He also prioritized in flowers and initiated several flower breeding programs.
In 1970, David Burpee sold his company to General Foods. In 1974, Burpee moved from its north Philadelphia location to its current headquarters at 300 Park Avenue in Warminster, Pennsylvania. SEPTA extended its Warminster Line commuter rail to Warminster, the train station being opposite Park Avenue from Burpee's headquarters.
In 1979 the company was acquired by ITT. David Burpee remained as a consultant until his death in June 1980. In 1991 the Burpee company was acquired by George Ball, Inc., a diversified horticultural family business. Jonathan Burpee, the founder's grandson, was the last Burpee family member to work for the company. The company maintains the original Burpee farm, Fordhook Farms, in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, where notable varieties such as Iceberg lettuce and Big Boy tomato were bred.
The company currently sells seeds and garden accessories to home gardeners.
In its 1954 catalog, W. Atlee Burpee & Co. first advertised a competition for the development of the first white marigold flower, offering $10,000 to any gardener whose efforts produced a flower deemed to be pure white. 21 years later, the prize was awarded to 67-year old Alice Vonk of Sully, Iowa, who received $100 the previous year as one of six gardeners nationwide whose marigolds came closest to being white. Vonk kept seeds from the lightest flowers in her garden each season, replanting for over two decades before achieving a pure white marigold that measured 2.5 inches in diameter. Her entry in the 1975 edition of the contest topped 8,200 other entrants and produced what was then described as the "costliest flower ever." 
- retailerIda4b383cd view brandBurpee. "Burpee company history page". Burpee.com. Retrieved 2011-08-08.
- "Sully Woman's Life Unchanged After Producing Prize Marigold," Pella Chronicle, Pella Iowa, September 10, 1975, page 16.
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