Burpee Seeds

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W. Atlee Burpee & Co.
Private company
FounderWashington Atlee Burpee
ProductsSeeds, plants, and supplies for home gardening
OwnerGeorge Ball

Burpee Seeds, officially W. Atlee Burpee & Co., is a seed company that was founded by Washington Atlee Burpee in 1876.[1] The company is not named after a relationship to "burpless" cucumbers.


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 a wide variety of seeds, plants in various forms, and garden accessories to home gardeners.

White Marigold[edit]

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.[2][3][4][5][6] 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." [2]


  1. ^ retailerIda4b383cd view brand Burpee (2019-04-11). "Burpee company history page". Burpee.com.
  2. ^ a b "Sully Woman's Life Unchanged After Producing Prize Marigold," Pella Chronicle, Pella Iowa, September 10, 1975, page 16.
  3. ^ Beaver County Times - Google News Archive Search
  4. ^ The Free Lance-Star - Google News Archive Search
  5. ^ The Evening Independent - Google News Archive Search
  6. ^ Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Google News Archive Search

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