Getting the Most From Your Mail-Order Nursery Purchases

With the growth in the numbers of web-based plant nurseries gardeners’ choices have expanded as well. In addition to concerns about security and privacy, issues such as quality and cost are important considerations. So what’s a desperate, and sometimes covetous gardener to do to get the best value from their mail-order nursery purchases? Here’s a few suggestions:

First of all, be sure to order from reputable companies. A good place to start is by asking gardening friends about their favourite companies and their shipping protocols. For example, Fernwood’s plants are always shipped in active growth, but many suppliers of perennials send plants while they’re still dormant, meaning you may get a bag of roots. Not a problem, but understanding a nursery’s production and shipping systems will go a long way to feeling satisfied with the plants you receive. Always check the nursery’s guarantees and replacement policies as well.

As instantly-gratifying as it can be, don’t base your purchases on just a picture from a nursery’s website. Be sure to research your choices by reading full descriptions and by double-checking with other sources, either on the web or in print. That includes zone ratings – growers, like gardeners, are sometimes ‘over-optimistic’ about a particular plants hardiness. By purchasing from nurseries in the same hardiness zone that you garden in you can increase the likelihood of plants adapting well to their new home. Along the same lines, shopping with specialty nurseries who have extensive knowledge about their plants can enhance your experience.

When shopping online for perennials, including our hardy garden ferns, spring is the ideal time to order. Be sure to order early to avoid your favourites being sold out.  Like many other online retailers, here at Fernwood we ship our products at “cost,” which means customers are charged only what the shipping company charges us, plus the cost of packaging. Even at that, anyone who’s made a purchase via the internet is aware that shipping rates can add considerably to the price of getting those goodies you just must have.

To make the most of shipping costs it often makes sense to order multiple items. This suggestion is only slightly a self-serving on my part 😉  In fact, it often costs about the same to ship larger numbers of plants. You can see how this works for yourself before you make your purchase. For example, before “checking out” on our website, try increasing or decreasing the number of plants in your “shopping cart” and then selecting “calculate shipping.” But maybe you don’t need or haven’t budgeted for more plants. Another strategy is to share your order with another gardener. If it’s possible, filling the box is always the most economical way to make the most of your mail-order plant purchases.

We sincerely wish you the best with your online plant purchases, whether here at Fernwood or with one of the many other wonderful mail-order nurseries happy to share the treasures they grow. Happy shopping!