Can you buy plants online? – The Middle-Sized Garden


April 2nd, 2020 Posted In: Gardening know how

You can buy plants online from small specialist nurseries and online plant sellers.

And some garden centres and nurseries offer local delivery.

At the moment, the major online plant and seed sellers are experiencing massive demand. So you may be more successful if you try the small specialist nurseries or any local garden centres who do deliveries.

This post will explain more.

To buy plants online, try small specialist nurseries or your local garden centre to find out if they do deliveries.

How plant sellers are dealing with coronavirus

At the moment, you should be able to check whether companies are offering plants online for sale.

If a website doesn’t say anything about how the company is dealing with Covid 19, I assume that it is temporarily closed. This may not be wholly accurate.

Note: if you are a plant seller, don’t forget to update your website to tell people whether you’re doing mail order, delivering locally or closed.

Online plants for sale from Hortus Loci

Many nurseries or garden centres, such as Hortus Loci, have a delivery service within a certain radius. Check your usual garden centre or google ‘garden centre near me.’

Each of the three different kinds of online plant sellers face different challenges. But you can certainly buy plants online or for delivery. And it’s important to support the horticultural industry if you can.

All plant sellers rely on a huge demand at Easter and during early summer. So growers affected by the coronavirus lockdown face losing the bulk of a year’s income.

Buy plants online from specialist nurseries

Small specialist nurseries mostly sell their plants at fairs which are now cancelled. However, some sell plants by mail order too.

Greta Dixter plant fair

Many specialist nurseries make most of their sales at plant fairs. These are now cancelled for the next few months.

Most people who google ‘buy plants online’ will get the big companies, which are currently swamped with orders. So it’s really worth spending a bit of time to find the right small plant nursery that can help you.

The Candide gardening app lists nurseries and links to their website for sales. It also has a  buy-swap-sell Marketplace where people who don’t normally sell plants online can offer plants or other gardening products for sale.

There are various listings of independent nurseries. The Independent Plant Nurseries Guide  lists companies all over the UK, with a dedicated ‘mail order’ section. If you’re outside the UK, I suggest putting ‘independent plant nurseries’ into a search engine for your local equivalent.

The fairs’ websites are a good place to find specialist small nurseries. Rare Plant Fairs and Plant Fairs Roadshow both have lists of independent nurseries that exhibit with them at plant fairs in England and Wales. Not all do mail order, so you’ll need to check websites individually. But there are some great finds in these lists so it’s worth spending the time.

Find something a bit different…

These small nurseries have really good ranges of plants. Often they are easy, reliable and beautiful plants which have fallen out of fashion or which simply aren’t being grown for the mass market. I’ve checked that the following are selling plants online by mail order. (Although things can change quickly at the moment.)

For example, you could grow your own Szechuan peppers from Edulis. Or try growing Habilitzia (Caucasian spinach), a perennial spinach which climbs like a vine from The Edible Garden Nursery

Caucasian spinach sold online by small nurseries

Caucasian spinach is a perennial spinach that grows like a vine. Available by mail order from The Edible Garden Nursery.

If you’re a beginner vegetable grower or have struggled to grow vegetables in the past, see this post on easy ways to avoid mistakes when growing vegetables.

Or an unusual ornamental plant

What about Yellow Bleeding Heart Vine (Dactylicapnos scandens  or formerly Dicentra scandens)? It’s a charming scrambler from Roseland House Garden & Nursery. ‘It climbs through other plants,’ says nursery owner Charles Pridham: ‘and dies down each winter, never swamps its hosts and is unfussy as to soil and amount of sunshine.’

Or if you’re interested in attracting pollinators to your garden, then Butterfly Cottage Garden Plants sells cottage garden plants online. They specialise in ‘garden worthy natives’ such as Leucanthemum ‘Brightside’.

And continuing the ‘wild’ theme, Plant Wild sells wild flowers in plugs or pots. Their best seller is their Wildflower Bees & Butterflies collection of plug plants.

If you have a shady border, try the pretty pale lemon perennial wallflower (Erysimum Rysi Moon) from Tortworth Plants. Or a bright pink epimedium (Epimedium ‘Royal Purple’). This also has zingy bright green leaves and comes from  Pineview Plants.

There’s even a specialist nursery for large-leaved plants,  Lovegroves’ Plant Paradise.

The major online plant sellers

Many companies sell plants online as their main business. But these are facing massive demand at the moment, particularly for vegetable seeds and plants.

This week the RHS’s online shop  stated it had stopped accepting orders when I checked the site (31st March). The site was back to normal the following morning.

Crocus is still accepting orders but there are delays in delivery times. At Sarah Raven, plants and bulbs could still be ordered when I checked, but seed and kit orders were temporarily suspended.

Online mail order seed companies

Seed companies with a good vegetable range have been overwhelmed by people interested in growing their own vegetables.

Mr Fothergills and Kings Seeds were still despatching orders but not taking any more. The situation was the same at Thompson & Morgan who also sell plants online as well as seeds. This may change, depending on when you are reading this.

All these companies (and more) sell seeds and/or plants online as a core part of their business so they should be back soon. But they may have a limited range of stock this year.

Check your local nurseries or garden centres

You may find that your local nursery or garden centre has a delivery service. They, too, are experiencing high demand, but not on the scale of the big online mail order sellers.

Tip: if you put ‘small nurseries near me’ into a search engine like Google, you will get kindergartens. Try the resources I’ve listed above or use the phrase ‘garden centre’!

Since the coronavirus lockdown, I’ve been able to order peat-free compost, rhubarb plants and vegetable seeds from my local Edible Culture nursery in Faversham.

Plants online from Edible Culture Faversham

Edible Culture, my local nursery here in Faversham. I’ve just bought some peat-free compost, seeds and rhubarb plants. It was delivered according to coronavirus guidelines. Goods are left on the pavement and you need to take them into your garden yourself.

A few miles nearer Canterbury, Meadow Grange Nursery also has a home delivery service.

Where possible nurseries and garden centres all around the UK have introduced or expanded their delivery service. Hortus Loci, who supply plants to top garden designers and garden shows as well as selling plants, now have a delivery service within a 15 mile radius of RG27 8LQ. Find out more about Hortus Loci in this interview with MD Mark Straver on plant trends.

Longacres garden centre group have a limited delivery and mail order service, but many other garden centre groups don’t. Setting up a mail order service at a few weeks’ notice isn’t easy, so this hasn’t been an option open to everyone.

Some garden centres have set up a ‘click and collect’ service. For example, the Baytree Garden Centre in Lincolnshire has done this with a safe pick-up system. (Thank you to the Middlesized Garden reader who told me about this.)

Do a ‘search’ online for your local nurseries and garden centres. Their Home pages should explain whether they’re doing local deliveries or selling seeds, equipment and plants online.

Gardening books, tools and products on The Middlesized Garden Amazon store

I have put together lists of gardening books, tools and products that I use personally on the Middlesized Garden Amazon store. Note that links to Amazon are affiliate so I may get a small fee if you buy. Also Amazon, like other major online sellers, is prioritising the delivery ‘essential’ items over other items.

However, if you are looking for good gardening books, try either my favourite gardening books list or the vegetable growing gardening books list.

Gardening books on Kindle, of course, can be delivered instantly. I have just launched the first Middlesized Garden book – The Complete Guide to Garden Privacy – on Kindle. We don’t yet have the print version ready, but if you’re feeling a bit overlooked in your garden with everyone at home, then try it out. (We have only just uploaded it, so this is absolutely new. I’ll be doing more on garden privacy in future posts.)

If you want gardening tools, I have an ‘essential garden tools’ list. For peat-free compost, gardening gloves, kneelers and other miscellany, see the gardening essentials list.

Pin to remember tips for buying plants online

And do join us every Sunday morning for tips, ideas and inspiration for your middle-sized garden.

How to buy plants online



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