Sometimes you can’t find the exact plant you want at your local nursery. It used to be that we didn’t really have another option, other than asking the nursery to order a plant for us and hope they agreed.
But now, there are so many online plant nurseries that will ship plants right to your front door. This has opened up a whole new world. Gardeners now have access to such a wide selection of plants. It’s almost always possible to get the exact plant you’re looking for.
But is buying plants online worth it? Are the plants healthy? Where are the best places to buy outdoor plants, shrubs and trees online? Are there any online nurseries to stay away from?
So many questions.
In this article, I’ll go over my experiences with ordering from several online nurseries as well as who you can trust… and who you can’t.
Quick Tip: If you’re new to purchasing plants online, be sure to check out my article about the pros and cons of purchasing from online plant nurseries. That will give you a good foundation of what you need to know before you place your first order.
Where to Buy Plants Online
If you want to shop online, here are some places that I would recommend. I’ve either purchased directly from these online plant nurseries or have received recommendations and photos from other gardeners I know and trust.
This list is not in any particular order. All of the nurseries on the list are great. In this article, I’ll share my experience along with pictures of plants ordered from each.
Do not trust: DirectGardening (keep reading, it’s quite the story!)
Like all other online stores, some people have very good experiences, while others may have a negative experience. There’s always a risk when you shop online. That’s why most of these reviews will cover plant health, shipping methods and customer service. If you try any of the online nurseries in this list and want to share your experience, please contact me.
I’ve purchased trees and large shrubs from this online store several times. Fast Growing Trees is a place I’d recommend, especially because they have options for purchasing larger, more mature trees and shrubs (if you’re willing to pay a bit more).
The trees and shrubs I ordered from them were accurate to the sizes described on the website and were very healthy when they arrived.
In July, 2017 I purchased this Ginkgo Autumn Gold 4-5′ tree from Fast-Growing-Trees.com for about $100. It shipped the very next day and arrived healthy.
The tree cost more than I would pay locally for a similar tree of this age/size. But, I could not find this variety locally and was happy to pay for it.
The ginkgo tree is slow-growing in nature, but has been thriving since planting. It’s even turning bright yellow in fall before the leaves drop and it’s already quite the show-stopper.
Founded in 2014, The Planting Tree has developed a strong brand and a loyal customer base due to its broad assortment of high-quality trees, shrubs and other plants along with quick fulfillment and delivery. Many orders are picked, packaged and shipped within 1 hour of an order being placed! They are FAST!
Jaymie is a student in my Design Your 4-Season Garden Course and she placed an order with Planting Tree in June, 2021. She was impressed with the plants she received and shared some photos, too!
“…Wanted to brag on my experience with Planting Tree. I ordered 3 blue star juniper and 2 Blue Chiffon Rose of Sharon that were not available locally. The prices weren’t too crazy. I got much larger specimens than expected within 4 days of ordering. They were packed very well with not a loose leaf or spec of dirt spilled. Everything in now in the ground and thriving with Rose of Sharon already blooming.”Jaymie T.
If you want to purchase these plants online from PlantingTree, here are the links:
- ‘Blue Chiffon’ Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus ‘Notwoodthree’ Blue Chiffon™), Zones 5-9. 6-10’H x 4-5’W, blooms from late summer-fall.
- Blue Star Juniper (Juniperus squamata), Zones 4-8, 1-2’H x 2-3’W, low growing, mounding evergreen with silvery blue needles.
Like Jayme, any plants I’ve ordered from Planting Tree have been very healthy and happy. However, their refund policy leaves a bit to be desired. Please carefully review their policies before placing your order.
Here are the policy details: All sales are final. If you have a package that arrives damaged, you must contact them within 5 days of receipt to file a claim. Any order cancellations will result in a 25% restocking fee. So, make sure you definitely want the plant before you buy it.
Note: Planting Tree was acquired by Fast Growing Trees in July, 2021.
Nature Hills online nursery based in Omaha, Nebraska. It’s an excellent place to shop for plants online.
I often use their website for plant research because of the huge selection and amount of filtering options on their website!
I absolutely love their product pages. They provide a great amount of detailed information about each plant. I also find the customer reviews helpful in making purchasing decisions.
They have an AMAZING selection of plants. Honestly, their plant selection is HUGE. One of the best I’ve seen. I love that they sell so many of the “popular” plant brands, like Proven Winners®, Southern Living® Plants, Knock Out®, First Editions®, Endless Summer® and many more! You can read the full list here.
Check for free shipping and other deals/sales. They often have free shipping offers. Definitely check their website for “free shipping” offers. T on orders over a certain amount.
Learn about plant and pot sizes before ordering. The plants I’ve ordered were healthy but definitely on the small side. So, keep that in mind when you’re ordering. This is true when purchasing plants from most online nurseries, though (more about this here). I love that Nature Hills has a video that describes all the different pot sizes for you. It makes it very clear what you’re ordering.
Nature Hills has a generous warranty policy. If your plant is damaged during shipping, you need to act fast. First, take a photo of the damage. Then, create a support ticket Hills within 48 hours of arrival so a “damage claim” can be filed. It’s not clear on the website how this works, but I’d imagine you’d receive a replacement plant or store credit if there was damage during the shipping process.
Nature Hills also offers a replacement policy that comes standard with all plant purchases. This is 50% credit towards a replacement plant for 1 full year should your plant not survive. Note that some restrictions do apply.
In addition to the standard warranty, you can also purchase an optional extended warranty when ordering. With this warranty, if a loss is reported within 1 year of the date it was delivered, you may be eligible for an in-store credit equaling 100% of the full plant item subtotal paid. You’ll need to file a claim with their customer service department to get your credit approved.
Easy to get in touch. There is also a phone number you can call if you have any issues, along with a support website where you can file a claim or create a support ticket.
Perfect Plants Nursery (MyPerfectPlants.com) is another reputable online nursery you can trust. They are a family-owned and family-run nursery operating since 1980 out of North Florida.
They were kind enough to send me a Jane Magnolia tree (3 gallon pot) so I could share some pictures with you.
I also placed a separate order for good measure; a Soft Touch Holly shrub (1 gallon pot). I ordered on January 30th and it was shipped the next day! I received my holly on February 2nd and it was perfectly packed.
Pros of ordering from Perfect Plants:
✅ Supporting a family owned business. I love that this is a family owned and run nursery. And while the prices may bit a bit higher and the selection a bit less than some of the “big guys,” it always feels good to support a hardworking family who pride themselves on the quality of their plants and their level of customer service.
✅ Plants packaged with care. What I liked about the packaging was that the plant was actually strapped into the box with heavy-duty zip ties. In addition to anchoring the plant to the box, they also placed a bamboo stake from the plant pot to the top of the box to ensure that the plant did not move. I could tell that their plants are packed with care and love.
✅ Orders ship quickly (1-3 days). My order was shipped one day after ordering and arrived at my door 3 days. I did not choose any kind of expedited shipping. I thought this may be a fluke but their website states that, “All orders are shipped within 1-3 days after the order is processed, unless you have requested otherwise.”
✅ Incredible extended warranty. THIS RIGHT HERE. This is the reason you should order from Perfect Plants Nursery above all others: the most incredible warranty I’ve ever seen. For an additional 10% of your total purchase, you can warranty all of the plants in your order for 1 full year… for ANY reason. It reads,
“If a plant dies up to 1 year after purchase, whether it’s a weather related issue, human error, or anything else, just send us a picture and we’ll get you a store credit for the plant you purchased. The warranty does not cover the cost of shipping for any replacement.”Perfect Plants 1 Year Plant Warranty
Regardless of whether you purchase the extended warranty, I did talk to one of their staff members who assured me that they take great pride the quality of their plants and level of customer service. She said,
“Perfect Plants is a family owned and operated company and we have a very small team that works to pack the plants for shipment. This means that we have a great deal of control over shipping out exclusively high-quality, mature and healthy plants. If yourself or any of your readers ever received a plant that was damaged or unhealthy in any way, please let them know that they should reach out to customer service and it will be handled.”
✅ Discounts for bulk and/or wholesale orders. Just visit the Wholesale page to request more information.
Cons of ordering from Perfect Plants:
✖️ The prices are a bit higher than other nurseries I’ve used. My order was $40.82 for a one gallon shrub (including shipping), making this one of the most expensive shrubs of this size that I’ve ever ordered online. Since my order, I’ve noticed that they do run quite a few specials on their website, so I’d definitely keep your eyes peeled for sales and promotions.
✖️ Their selection of plants is limited. Don’t get me wrong, they have hundreds of plants on their website… so it’s not like they don’t have ANY plants. But compared to some of the bigger guys, I definitely noticed that they don’t have a massive selection. Just know that you may not be able to find EVERY plant you need on their website.
✖️ No perennials. At the time of writing this, I did not see any perennials or bulbs available for purchase on their website. Their selection is mainly shrubs (great rose selection), with some trees (fruit/nut trees and ornamental trees) and houseplants.
✖️ They don’t ship to CA or AZ. Due to agricultural regulations, they are unable to fulfill orders to California and Arizona at this time.
Although the prices may be a bit higher and the selection a bit smaller, I still think MyPerfectPlants.com is worth a look. You can support a family owned and run business while scooping up their incredible 1-year plant warranty. So even if the weather goes crazy or you forget to water, you won’t be wasting all of your money on plants that didn’t survive.
Select seeds has more than just seeds as one may think. I purchased some annual black-eyed susan climbing vines for just $7 each and they arrived in perfect condition. They were actually A LOT bigger than I expected and arrived in less than 2 weeks.
Overall, I’m really pleased with the prices, condition of plants and quality of plants and seeds (more on this later) from SelectSeeds. I will continue to order from them in the future.
Great Garden Plants is a nursery that I’ve recently tried and was really impressed with their selection, prices and packaging. One of the students from my Design Your 4-Season Garden course tried this online plant nursery in June 2021 and shared photos of her delivery in the private course Facebook group.
Here’s what Jaymie says about Great Garden Plants,
“I received my order of 20 ‘Forever Purple’ coral bells from Great Garden Plants. All were good sized quart plants and overall healthy. …I felt like I tore a lot of leaves of in the unpacking process – boxes have squares that open and close to allow air to flow within the box, but it took me a few tries to learn how to close squares to get plants out with out a struggle. The containers are wrapped in plastic covering the dirt to prevent spillage. They attach a metal ring of some sort to attach the bag and tie off. The ring is a pain- its a hassle to get the plastic off. …Overall very impressed with the packaging and the plants.”Jaymie T.
After seeing Jaymie’s photos, I decided to give Great Garden Plants a try for myself and I had a very good experience. I ordered a few Karl Foerster grass, SunSparkler Dazzleberry Sedums and a Black Tower Elderberry shrub. All were delivered in great condition and are thriving in my garden.
Great Garden Plants also boasts a free, no risk, 60-day guarantee on your purchase. It’s not the longest warranty (or the shortest) I’ve seen… it’s somewhere in the middle. I think that 60 days in ample time to act on a warranty in most cases. There’s also specific (longer) guarantees related to fall purchases and dormant plant purchases. Just send them a photo of your plant and contact them via their online chat or via email to get the process started. They will issue replacements OR refunds (minus the cost of shipping).
Because of my experience and their plant guarantee, I can confidently recommend Great Garden Plants as a reputable online nursery. They carry a lot of nice plants and take great care in packaging and shipping them!
Some of my gardening friends also recommend Bluestone Perennials for their selection of online plants. I have purchased from Bluestone a handful of times. The plants are potted, but still very small.
I ordered 2 Butterfly Weed plants and 1 Globe Thistle (echinops) plant in August 2019. Each plant was about $15 and shipping was about $12. My order was scheduled to ship in late September.
The 2 Butterfly Weed plants did ship on time in late September. They were SO small, though. They survived the winter, but I ended up finding butterfly weed locally and purchased 2 much larger plants so I didn’t have to wait 3 years for these tiny guys to flower. I don’t think this purchase was worth the cost.
I received a message informing me that my Globe Thistle was on backorder and would not arrive until spring. They asked if I would like to replace the plant or keep the order and I chose to keep the order. I contacted them on April 11, 2020 to check my order status and received a very quick response. They shipped my order on April 28, 2020.
I was happy that I did receive a response and a healthy plant in the mail. It was small, but ended up growing and even flowering in August of the same year.
I have ordered many bulbs online from Breck’s. They have a lot of really unique varieties to choose from. I’ve purchased many allium, tulip, iris and crocus bulbs from this online nursery over the years. I’ve also purchased live plants from them.
Breck’s offers lots of other live plants, too, of which I’ve purchased a few.
At one point I contacted customer service via email and the representative provided a very friendly and helpful response about a day later. Breck’s guarantees all of their purchases for LIFE. In fact, the customer service rep I spoke with stated,
“We guarantee all of our plants to reach you in perfect and healthy condition. What’s more, any item that does not grow and flourish to your complete satisfaction will be replaced free, with no time limit, for as long as you garden.”
This guarantee is certainly not the norm. Most nurseries will guarantee anywhere from a few months to a year after purchase… but for a lifetime is very impressive.
Not all plants and bulbs I’ve purchased from Breck’s have survived, though. I purchased Dutch irises and fall blooming crocuses that to my disappointment did not bloom (not a single one). After contacting support, they gave me a credit to replace my purchase with other plants.
Even though I’ve gotten some duds over the years, my experience with Breck’s has been positive and I continue to order from them. They have a lot of unique/rare plants that you can’t find elsewhere and they stand behind their “lifetime guarantee” with friendly service.
Etsy is another surprising place to find some nice plants online! Many Etsy sellers are shipping plants to your door and that’s a great thing.
Just an FYI: Etsy is a marketplace of individual sellers. So, you’ll need to make sure that the person you’re purchasing from is legitimate. The best way to do this is to check each individual seller’s reviews before you buy. You can always contact an Etsy seller directly from the product listing page if you have any questions about the item.
⚠️WARNING: Stay Away From “Direct Gardening”⚠️
Out of all of the online nurseries I’ve tried, DirectGardening.com has been the worst. I will preface this by saying that 2020 was a difficult year for all online plant nurseries. But, I did not have a good experience with them.
In April, I ordered 2 top hat blueberry bushes (Vaccinium ‘Top Hat’) and skyracer purple moor grass (Molina caerulea ssp arundinacea ‘Skyracer’) from DirectGardening. I did not receive an email/order confirmation of any kind. I checked my order online, but it was not updated in their system. I had no idea if/when the plants would arrive. I knew it wasn’t looking good from the start.
About 3 weeks went by before I inquired about my order status. The customer service rep told me that my order would be scheduled to ship after processing if the plants were available, which usually took 2-4 weeks. I must admit this really bothered me. I thought that purchasing and paying for the plant would ensure that I would receive it, but apparently that’s not the case at DirectGardening. I stated my concern about this and did not receive any reply.
Here’s how my experience went:
- April 27: Order placed
- May 15: Requested shipping update, was told 2-4 weeks processing.
- May 15: Replied to email support. No response received.
- June 13: Moor Grass arrived dead. “3 Hardy Gladiolus” bulbs arived as a free gift, I planted these and they never grew either.
- June 20: Blueberry bushes arrived and looked like dead twigs. I planted anyway and tried to nurse to health.
- Aug 20: Blueberry bush and Moor Grass replacements arrived dead on arrival. They would not replace the replacements.
This was the absolute worst online plant ordering experience I have ever had. Save yourself the headache and stay away from DirectGardening.
Where Buy Seeds Online
I mentioned Select Seeds above for their live plants. I also love getting my seeds from them, too.
Definitely give SelectSeeds a try.
Johnny’s has set the standard for high seed quality over the past nearly 50 years by meeting or exceeding federal minimum requirements for germination rates, pathogen testing and traceability.
Located in Meadowbrook, PA, Earnst Conservation Seeds has an outstanding 50 year reputation in helping to restore native landscaping.
They grow, process and sell hundreds of species of native and naturalized seeds and live plant materials for ecological restoration, sustainable landscaping, reclamation, wetlands and natural resources conservation.
Check out their seed finder tool or request a catalog on their website. They have some of the best native wildflower seed mixes available today.
General Tips for Buying Plants Online
As you can see, I’ve done my fair share of shopping for plants online. Here are some tips to make sure you’re shopping at a reputable nursery:
- Make sure the website has a phone number or way to contact them for customer service.
- Research their plant warranty information. Any reputable online nursery will clearly post their warranty information and refund policies.
- Google the company name + reviews. Often times you’ll find reviews from people with personal experience that can help you make a decision.
- Check the Better Business Bureau website for reviews, scam alerts and complaints about the company. You can even review the business on this website if you want others to know your experience.
- When in doubt, reach out before you buy. Try calling the customer service number or writing to their customer service email. See if their support is friendly and gets back to you in a reasonable amount of time.
- Remember that if you’re shopping for plants on websites like Amazon and Etsy, that these are “selling platforms” made up of thousands of individual sellers. So, just because you had a great experience one time, does not mean it will always be that way. The quality and customer service can vary significantly from one seller to the next.
- Trust your gut. When in doubt… if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Purchasing seeds, plants, shrubs and trees online certainly has its pros and cons. Most online nurseries are reputable and will provide you with a lot more variety than what you may find locally. They are are a great option to get exactly what you’re looking for. Just make sure you check their online refund policies and guarantees before making that purchase.
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What Blooms with What?
Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!