How do You Buy a Plant Over the Internet?

Part of the You Can Learn Landscaping and Gardening series.
By Ken Brown
June 20, 2008

Have you ever bought a plant for your yard or garden over the internet or even by mail order? Does it scare you to try? It is actually very easy and if you follow these simple steps you will be very happy with the beautiful bouquet of sweet smelling flowers each summer. Here are some things to watch for to make sure your transaction is a happy and successful one.

Here are a few areas you should watch for as you plan your purchases. Will you be home when the plants are shipped? Do the plants come to you as root stock, seeds or potted plants? What is the company's guarantee for the flowers? Does the company have a reputable customer service department? Do they protect your private information and do they have a privacy policy? How much does it cost to ship the plants and how are they shipped? Are there times of the year when the company doesn't ship anything?

Plant Guarantees

The first thing you should verify is the guarantee offered by the internet nursery. Sometimes plants don't do well when they are shipped. That is normal. So, you want to buy from a company that guarantees their plants. Some companies like Spring Hill Nurseries will guarantee the plant from the time you buy it, to delivery and even to you putting the plant in the ground and trying to grow it. Spring Hill guarantees the plants they sell for "as long as you garden."

That is the type of guarantee you want from the internet nurseries where you purchase your plants. From the nursery to the flower is the guarantee that will make you happy with your internet gardening decisions.

Reputable Customer Service

Make the decision to work with nurseries that have good customer service. How do you know the company has the customer service you seek? Check the web site for answers to questions you might have. Do they have a page devoted to "Frequently asked questions?" Are your questions answered about the hardiness zone you live in? Are you comfortable with how to place an order? Can you get your shipping questions answered without having to place an order?

Is there a phone number you can call if you have any questions? How easy is it to find the flowers, plants and products you are searching for? Can you ship to an address different from where you live? Sometimes you would rather ship your plants to an address where someone is home to accept the shipment or even have it shipped to where you work. Are there times of the year where the nursery doesn't ship at all because it is too hot or too cold?

When you get the plant is there adequate support to help you get the plant into the ground? What do you do when receive your perennial? Is there special preparations you have to do? How do you prepare the soil before planting?

Personal Information Privacy

As you peruse the nursery web site, does it appear that your information is secure? As you move to the order form does the browser show the security symbol? You should be able to update your account information including email address, billing, and shipping addresses. Is it easy to subscribe or unsubscribe from newsletters and catalogs? There are new rules about spamming that prevent a company from making it difficult to unsubscribe from newsletters.

History of the Nursery

It is important that you know about the history of the nursery. Have they been around for a while? Did you know that Spring Hill Nursery has been in business for over 120 years and has been serving mail order customers since 1930?

Easy to Find the Plants You Desire

How easy does the site make it for you to find the plants you desire? A good internet nursery will have a way to search for your plants. There should be a way to define if you want a plant for full sun, full shade or even partial shade or partial sun. If you are looking for a specific color of flower, can you specify the color and do a search of their entire inventory for that color flower? Do you know the hardiness zone designation where you live? You should have the ability to do a search just for that hardiness zone. Why would you care to look at plants that aren't going to survive the extreme heat of the south or the harsh winters of the north?

The good nurseries will offer a multitude of different plant types. You should be able to get bulbs, ground covers, hedges, trees, vines and shrubs. Does your internet nursery offer you all these plants? If you love roses can you get a good variety from the nursery? Even small fruit trees like the Flowering Crabapple should be available from the nursery.

Confidently Buy Your Plants on The Internet

I think that I have given you the important things to look for from the internet nursery you choose. For the best safety, security and comfort choose a company that has been shipping mail order for a number of years. Look for nurseries that have a wide selection of perennials and plant types available for you. Check out their shipping policies. Be wary of companies that ship during extreme weather. Your plant may not survive shipping in the middle of summer or too early in spring. A good company will only ship during the days that insures the plant will survive the shipping process.

The real deal maker is to look for the plant guarantees the internet nursery offers. The good nurseries guarantee the plants from the time they leave the ground at the nursery all the way to a full growing season in your garden. Enjoy the ease of shopping online for your flowering garden. Shopping on the internet for perennials, trees and roses is safe and easy and will enhance the beauty of your summer garden.

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