Buying Chilli Seeds from eBay: A Cautionary Tale

I’ve seen a lot of horror stories this year about people buying Chilli seeds from eBay and the like, and, not getting quite what they hoped for. It seems to be coming out a lot more now that plants are flowering and getting their first pods.

Past Prices Fake Chilli SeedsI’ve fallen foul of this myself, I ordered some Carolina Reaper seeds from Past Prices on eBay. Chilli seeds are chilli seeds, right? The eBay listings Past Prices had looked legitimate, they sell all kinds of “rare seeds“, not just Chilli seeds.

No way of knowing from just looking at them what they actually are, you’ve just got to trust they’re right. I got them in October 2015, and I sowed them two months later in January 2016.

Planted Chilli Seeds

The little pot that you see second from the right, the one marked Carolina Reaper? It gave me it’s first pod on Friday, it looks like this…

eBay Carolina Reaper from Past Prices

This one, that I grew with the Past Prices seeds, isn’t a Carolina Reaper in it’s early stages…

This is Carolina Reaper in it’s early stages…

Devon Chilli Man Carolina Reaper(Picture courtesy of The Devon Chilli Man)

To make things worse, the Carolina Reaper seeds aren’t the only ones I bought from Past Prices. I also have Yellow Devils Tongue and White Bhut Jolokias growing and now that I’ve noticed this, all the plants look worryingly alike…

Suspect Plants from Past Prices on eBay

It’s a given that some varieties of Chilli plants grow pretty similar anyway, and I won’t know for sure till I see some pods, but this does concern me somewhat…

I did drop Past Prices a message on eBay asking them their thoughts on the Carolina Reaper seeds that they’d sold to me, attaching the picture of the pod I put above, but, two days later I’ve yet to hear from them. I guess they have no thoughts. I’d have settled for an apology of some sort, I wasn’t even bothered about getting my money back.

Now. It’d be wrong for me to condemn all the seed sellers on eBay with the same stick as Past Prices as I used another trader on there who seems to be a bit better at this stuff, Premier Seeds Direct. I’ve already seen the pods from the seeds I got from them and they look to be right, my Cherry Bomb looks like a Cherry Bomb for example, I also got the seeds for this Purple Jalapeno from them, and, well, it looks like a Purple Jalapeno to me.

Purple Jalapeno

Gorgeous. Isn’t it?

But, it’s not all paradise.

This is my Scotch Bonnet, also grown from seeds from Premier Seeds Direct.

Bishops Crown

Looks suspiciously like Bishops Crown to me… To be fair, I have seen these two mixed up before. It might all be done in good faith. But, doesn’t stop me being a little angry that I’ve not spent the past couple of months growing one of my favourite chillies.

It’s not just my own experiences that have put me off, I’m a member in a lot of Chilli growing groups on Facebook and have seen regular postings off people in the same boat as me, one woman even showed a picture of something she’d grown and it turned out to be peas! PEAS! The Twitter chilli community has been awash with similar tales, and these just aren’t seeds off eBay, they’ve been bought from all kinds of places.

I wasn’t that unlucky that I grew peas, at least I’ve got a Chilli plant, but, I can safely say that now I know better than to buy from somewhere I don’t know and it won’t be happening again.

Next year I’ll be looking to use only reputable Seed traders, I’ve already got my eye on places like Bountiful Seeds, The Hippy Seed Company, Sea Spring Seeds and Fatalii Seeds.

They’ve all come recommended to me either from Facebook, or Twitter, from people who grow chillies themselves and are heavily involved in the online Chilli Growing community so I know I should be able to count on them.

Have you had similar experiences? Please feel free to share them in the comments and help get the word out there! 🙂

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17 thoughts on “Buying Chilli Seeds from eBay: A Cautionary Tale

    1. Paul Speight Post author

      Second time I’ve heard that name since I posted this, I’ll be checking those out as well – Thanks!

  1. Chili Jay

    Please please please check out they have the largest collection of pepper seeds I’ve ever seen. They are quite cheap but they are the real deal so it’s win win. Also are a good supplier to check out. They tend to send free packs with their orders.

    I feel your pain with the mid sold seeds situation. There is also a problem with big stores selling plants that are mislabeled.

    1. Paul Speight Post author

      Ohhhh, not heard of either of those but I’ll be sure to check them both out! – Thanks for that Jay!

      I’ve seen a few people complaining of actual plants as well – It’s not fair and it’s not right for people to knowingly sell something on if it’s not what it says on the label. It’s not as though you can tell it’s way to late to do anything meaningful about it!

  2. Stktd

    I bought from this seller , was proper excited about growing world’s hottest chilli, mine started producing chilli’s about a week ago and today I noticed they didn’t look like what I was expecting, so Googled it and looks like I’ve been scammed by this guy as well. Mine just look long, thin and smooth I’m 100% convinced they are not Reepers. This guy knows what he is doing as you can’t give feedback 4 months after sale but very unlikely you’ll notice anything wrong before then. He has an address and vat number on his eBay page so I’m thinking trading standards as I spent over £100 on other things to set up grow.

    Thanks for the

    1. Paul Speight Post author

      Aw, gutted to hear this! But yes – They don’t sound like Carolina Reapers but the same ones I had.

      Please do let me know how you get on if you do take it further, I’d be very interested in knowing 🙂

  3. Old Hopeful

    I’ve never bought seeds off eBay, and have for years got them from a UK supplier. The results have been mixed.
    This year, I bought them from Fatalii Seeds in Finland. and the germination rate is about 99.8%. The biggest problem is deciding which to choose from a massive selection.

  4. PhillipSchoville

    Hi just happened to me off ebay too. Wanted birdseyes then ive got a mash up of plants some 2 feet rapid growing with large leaves…fruit are globe shaped but im thinking there might be one or 2 birdseyes out of 40.

    1. Paul Speight Post author

      Ugh. Sorry to hear that Phillip – Hopefully the other fruits will be tasty though – Fingers crossed!

  5. Christian Møller-Andersen

    Do you know what kind of chili you got? I have the exact same experience and the ciliplant and fruits looks exactly the same as the picture you posted. At least it would be nice to know what kind it is 🙂


    1. Paul Speight Post author

      Hey Chris – Sorry to have taken so long to reply! – Unfortunately, no I don’t know what type I got, it wasn’t particularly nice though with next to no heat 🙁

    1. Paul Speight Post author

      I’ll always have my reservations about buying from eBay after my experiences. It isn’t to say I wouldn’t do it again mind you, but I’d know what I was getting myself into at the same time.

      It isn’t a bad plan buying pods for their seeds, I’ve done the same – But be aware that just because you got the seeds from the Pods, that isn’t 100% what you’ll get. I bought some Bhut Jolokia, harvested the seed and got something else entirely :-/ > Cheryl Chilli

  6. Stephen Forrester

    Yeah I suppose that’s possible if there were some cross pollination but that’s pretty unlikely to be the same in this case. At very least I’ll be in for some super hots!!

    1. Paul Speight Post author

      Aye, wasn’t trying to put you off – Like I said, I’ve done the same and still do with any pods I get that I might want to grow in the future. Even my own which are far from guaranteed LOL

      Good luck with them though, hope they grow true for you 🙂


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