Tips on Shopping from an Online Nursery

Tips on Shopping from an Online Nursery

By Published July 27, 2016 Updated May 23, 2022

It is easy to order plants from online plant nurseries. Here at Plant Delights Nursery, we want to help you understand the mail order plant catalog industry so you can make better informed choices when you order plants online from a garden nursery. Online, you will have a greater selection of cool plants to choose from than from a brick-and-mortar, but not all mail order plant nurseries provide the same level of quality and service. We strive to provide high quality, correctly named, healthy and large plants, but not everyone online does that.

Our staging greenhouse filled with orders ready to be shipped.
Our staging greenhouse filled with orders ready to be shipped.

Here are our top tips for choosing the best mail order garden nurseries.

Tip #1 - The lowest price is not the best way to go

Low-Low prices (for low-low quality and low-low survivability). Some garden nurseries have very low, too-good-to-be-true prices, but in order to afford that, they will send you a low quality, teeny-tiny, dried-out, bare-root division or dormant lump of desiccated roots in a little plastic bag. These plant nurseries use low prices to bring in bargain-seeking customers (because who doesn't like a bargain), but to make the economics work out they skimp on size, quality, and use poor plant care practices in order to turn a profit. So the lesson is, when it comes to plants, the lowest price is not the best bargain because very low prices will mean poor quality. On the flip side, when you order plants from plant catalog companies like Plant Delights Nursery, you get large, high quality, well-cared-for, healthy plants which are understandably more expensive, but are always high quality and worth the price. We guarantee it.

Image of Alstromeria in the greenhouse
Plant Delights Nursery Sales Greenhouse where plants are grown large and well cared for before selling to customers.

Tip #2 - Free Shipping is not really free (is anything ever really free?)

Many garden nurseries will offer free plant shipping when you order plants and they build the cost of shipping into the plant price so you do not see it as a separate charge. Just so you know, it is phenomenally difficult and fairly expensive to properly ship a living organism in such a way as to maximize its survivability and growth potential in your garden. You do not want to order plants from plant catalog companies that skimp on plant quality in order to hide the shipping cost within the plant. Here at Plant Delights Nursery, we charge shipping as a separate fee because we also sell plants to walk-in customers who do not need a shipping fee built into the price of the plant. For that fee you get expert shipping staff who search through our greenhouses and pick only the best, largest, healthiest plants to send to you. They examine every plant for issues, trim them for shipping, and then carefully wrap and pack them in a sturdy cardboard box. Not free, but well worth the price. We also provide our customers with plenty of information on how to care for their plants after they arrive (e.g., our FAQ).

Image of boxes ready to be sealed for shipping
Plant Delights Nursery plants about to be shipped.

Tip #3 - A wide selection of plants including rare and unusual plants is a good thing.

Anyone who has gardened for a while quickly realizes that 90% of online nurseries sell the exact same 40 plants. If you want your garden to be as unique as you are, you will eventually want to buy plants from specialty mail order plant catalog companies with a large selection of rare and unusual plants. Nurseries like Plant Delights Nursery cultivate an extensive catalog of both common and uncommon plants, native treasures and foreign exotics, and some plants that are incredibly rare. Some of the plants in our mail order plant catalog can be found nowhere else in the United States (or even the world)...that's how rare they are. When it comes to mail order plant catalogs, size matters and Plant Delights Nursery has a big one (a big plant catalog that is). We refresh our online plant catalog every month with new plants and we publish two printed mail order plant catalogs per year.

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