By Linda Orlando
It used to be that every spring, gardeners, landscapers, and anyone with a green thumb at all, would make a mad rush to garden centers and nurseries to snatch up all the best-looking, hardiest plants to grace their yard or garden. Usually choices were limited to what the store had decided to get that year, what plants were bestsellers, or, if you waited too late, you'd simply have to pick from what was left. Now, thanks to the Internet and online credit card payment systems, the plants of your dreams are only a few clicks away. You can browse catalogs looking at pictures, read all about planting conditions, climate zones, bloom times, sun and water requirements, and pick from literally thousands of varieties of flowers, vegetables, groundcovers, roses, shrubs, trees, vines, or just about any plant imaginable.
One of the greatest things about the Internet is being able to research the particular area where you live to see if the plants you're interested in will do well if you buy them and plant them in your little slice of heaven. Most garden and nursery websites provide information about specific plants, including maps of certain zones where a plant will thrive the most successfully. There are hundreds of websites devoted to selling plants of all kinds, and although a vast majority of them are reputable and can provide you with just what you're looking for, you may feel more comfortable sticking with the tried and true granddaddies of plant and garden ordering who were sending out plant catalogs way before the Internet was even invented.
Best Places to Buy Plants Online
Jackson and Perkins
If roses are your passion, then Jackson and Perkins, the Tiffany's of rose companies, is the site you want to visit. Not only does Jackson and Perkins offer every variety of rose you've ever heard of, they also offer perennial bulbs, garden care items, plant gifts, and outdoor garden décor including birdhouses, gazebos, trellises, figurines, and furniture. Their 'Yard Sale' corner offers terrific savings on select roses, perennials, and garden items, and the featured items change periodically throughout the year. And with J&P's Custom Rose Program, you can even have a rose named after you, if you're willing to pay $75,000 to select and name your favorite out of hundreds of new varieties of roses. Any unregistered name inspired by an individual, company, or organization may be chosen.
For planting a lush, productive garden, you need click no further than Burpee's website. The Burpee company was founded in Philadelphia in 1876 by an 18-year-old with a passion for plants and animals, and a mother willing to lend him $1,000 dollars of 'seed money' to get started in business. Within 25 years he had developed the largest, most progressive seed company in America, and by 1915 the company was mailing a million catalogs a year to America's gardeners. Burpee is still a family-owned seed company, still in the Philadelphia area, and their site offers thousands of varieties of vegetables, flowers, perennials, herbs, and garden gear. Specially designed 'garden kits' contain different varieties of the same item, allowing you to order one item and sample several different plants at once. The website offers Internet specials not available in the printed catalog.
Springhill Nurseries slogan is 'America's Favorite Garden Center Since 1849'. They certainly are one of the best, offering premium perennials, roses, shrubs, groundcovers, and hedges. The plant descriptions on their site include personal comments from growers and ideas for how and where to plant certain items. Springhill's specially designed Gardens and Collections are the easiest and most economical way to bring beauty to every area around your home, since they have been professionally designed to include plants with various blooming times, heights, colors, and textures. Their website is extremely visitor-friendly, with a 'plant finder' search option to help you locate just the right color of plant for certain usages, sunlight conditions, and zones.
Michigan Bulb Company
Gardeners who prefer perennials for dependable yearly performance, take notice: Michigan Bulb Company has everything you want. Now under new ownership, Michigan Bulb has expanded their offerings to include not only bulbs, but also other perennials, roses, trees, shrubs, groundcovers, vegetables, fruits, and even houseplants and garden accessories. The company has one of the most ironclad guarantees in the online ordering industry: "If you're not happy with any item you order from us, simply notify us for a full refund or replacement, whichever you prefer. 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." How can you be more assured of success than that? Plants are shipped healthy and well-packed to your door, at the proper planting time for your area.
Most online garden centers, especially the well-established ones, offer ironclad satisfaction guarantees in case you have any problems or are not happy with your purchase. Plants ordered online are packed well and arrive with complete planting instructions, and sometimes even proprietary fertilizer or plant food. The diverse variety of plants available online beats the selection at local garden centers hands down. But, of course, the greatest thing about ordering plants online is that they are delivered right to your door without you ever having to set foot in a garden center. Live plants are usually shipped via 2-day express, they are securely protected for their trip to you, and they include detailed, thorough planting instructions. They can usually wait a few days until the weekend, but you should plant them as soon as possible to get them acclimated to their new environment. After all, you saved so much energy by ordering them online that you should have plenty of energy left to welcome them into their new home, where they will give you months or even years of beauty to enjoy.