9 Online Nurseries You Can Trust (and 1 You Can&039t) – Pretty Purple Door

With the growing interest in gardening and so many in-person restrictions, you may want to consider purchasing some of your plants and seeds online.

But is it worth buying plants online? What are the best places to buy outdoor plants, shrubs and trees online? what about the seeds? Are there online daycares to stay away from?

so many questions.

In this article, I’ll go over my experiences ordering from various online nurseries, as well as who you can trust and who you can’t.

Quick Tip: If this is your first time buying plants online, be sure to check out my article on the pros and cons of buying from online plant nurseries. that will give you a good foundation of what you need to know before place your first order.

where to buy plants online

If you want to shop online, here are some places I would recommend. buy directly from these online plant nurseries or get recommendations and photos from other gardeners I know and trust.

Like all other online stores, some people have very good experiences, while others may have a negative experience. There is always a risk when shopping online. that’s why most of these reviews will cover plant health, shipping methods, and customer service. If you try any of the online daycares on this list and would like to share your experience, please contact me.

fast growing trees

I have purchased large trees and shrubs from this online store several times. fast-growing trees is a place I would recommend, especially since they have options to buy larger, more mature trees and shrubs (if you’re willing to pay a little more).

The trees and shrubs I ordered from you were exact to the sizes described on the website and were very healthy when they arrived.

plant a tree

Founded in 2014, the planting tree has developed a strong brand and loyal customer base due to its wide variety of high-quality trees, shrubs, and other plants, along with fast fulfillment and delivery. many orders are picked, packed and shipped within 1 hour of placing an order! they’re fast!

jaymie is a student in my 4 season garden design course and placed an order with the tree planting in June 2021. she was impressed with the plants she received and shared some photos too!

“…I wanted to brag about my experience with tree planting. I ordered 3 blue star juniper and 2 sharon blue chiffon pink which were not available locally. the prices weren’t too crazy. got specimens much larger than expected within 4 days of ordering. they were very well packed without a loose leaf or a speck of spilled dirt. everything is now in the ground and thriving with rose of sharon already blooming.”

note: the plantation tree was acquired by fast growing trees in July 2021.

natural hill nursery

nature hills online nursery is a great place to buy plants online. they have a huge selection (it’s honestly huge) and often have free shipping on orders over a certain amount. the plants I ordered were healthy but definitely small. so please note that when you order.

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however, this is true when buying plants from most online nurseries (more on this here).

select seeds

selected seeds has more than just seeds as one might think. I bought some black eyed susan annual vines for only $7 each and they arrived in perfect condition. they were actually much bigger than i expected and they arrived in less than 2 weeks.

black eyed susan plants shipped and growing on arbor

I received these well-packaged black-eyed susan vines from SelectSeeds in April, 2020. The photo on the right are the full grown vines near the end of September, 2020, on the arbor in my backyard. These were beautiful, healthy plants that I’ve ordered again this coming year. Photo by Pretty Purple Door.

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.

excellent garden plants

great garden plants is a nursery I recently tried and was really impressed with their selection, prices and packaging. One of the students in my course I design your 4-season garden tried this online plant nursery in June 2021 and shared photos of her delivery in the course’s private Facebook group.

here’s what jaymie says about great garden plants,

“I received my order for 20 ‘Purple Forever’ Coral Bells from excellent garden plants. all were good sized quart plants and generally healthy. …felt like I ripped off a lot of leaves in the process of unpacking – the boxes have squares that open and close to allow air to flow into the box, but it took me a few tries to learn how to close the squares to get the plants out a fight. containers are wrapped in plastic that covers dirt to prevent spills. they attach a metal ring of some kind to hold the bag and tie it down. the ring is a pain, it is a hassle to remove the plastic. …Overall very impressed with the packaging and the plants.”

After seeing jaymie’s photos, I decided to try cool garden plants and had a very good experience. I ordered a few karl foerster grasses, dazzleberry sunsparkler sedums, and a black tower elderberry bush. all were delivered in excellent condition and are thriving in my garden.

excellent garden plants also comes with a free 60-day risk-free guarantee on your purchase. It’s not the longest (or shortest) guarantee I’ve seen… it’s somewhere in the middle. I think 60 days is plenty of time to act on a warranty in most cases. there are also specific (longer) warranties related to fall purchases and dormant plant purchases. simply send them a photo of your plant and contact them through their online chat or email to start the process. will issue replacements or refunds (less shipping cost).

Because of my experience and your plant guarantee, I can confidently recommend excellent garden plants to a reputable online nursery. They carry a lot of pretty plants and take great care in packing and shipping them!

bluestone perennials

Some of my gardening friends also recommend bluestone perennials for their online plant selection. I have purchased from bluestone a handful of times. the plants are in pots, but they are still very small.

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I ordered 2 butterfly grass 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 at the end of September.

The 2 butterfly grass plants shipped on time at the end of September. even though they were so small. they survived the winter but I ended up finding butterfly grass locally and bought 2 much larger plants so I didn’t have to wait 3 years for these little guys to bloom. I don’t think this purchase was worth it.

I received a message informing me that my globe thistle was pending and would not arrive until spring. I was 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 the status of my order and received a very quick response. They shipped my order on April 28, 2020.

breaks

breck’s also offers many other live plants, of which I have purchased a few.

At one point I contacted customer service via email and the rep gave me a very friendly and helpful response a day later. breck’s guarantees all your purchases for life. in fact, the customer service rep I spoke with said,

“We guarantee that all our plants reach you in perfect and healthy condition. what’s more, any item that doesn’t grow and bloom to your complete satisfaction will be replaced with no time limit, no time limit, for as long as you have your garden.”

This guarantee is certainly not the norm. most nurseries guarantee from a few months to a year after purchase…but lifetime is very impressive.

however, not all the plants and bulbs I have purchased from breck have survived. I bought dutch lilies and fall blooming crocuses which, 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 had a few failures over the years, my experience with Breck’s has been positive and I continue to order from them. they have many unique/rare plants that you can’t find anywhere else and they back up their “lifetime guarantee” with friendly service.

etsy

etsy is another amazing place to find pretty plants online! many etsy sellers ship plants to your door and that’s a great thing.

FYI only: etsy is an individual seller marketplace. therefore, you will need to make sure the person you are buying from is legitimate. The best way to do this is to check each 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⚠️

Of all the online nurseries I’ve tried, directgardening.com has been the worst. I’ll preface this by saying that 2020 was a tough year for all online plant nurseries. but I didn’t 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 up to date in your system. I had no idea when the plants would arrive. I knew it didn’t look good from the start.

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It took about 3 weeks before I asked about the status of my order. the customer service representative told me that my order would be shipped after processing if the plants were available, which usually takes 2-4 weeks. I must admit that this really bothered me. I thought buying and paying for the plant would ensure I received it, but apparently that’s not the case with direct gardening. I expressed my concern about it and received no response.

this was my experience:

  • April 27th – Order placed
  • May 15th – Requested shipping update, told it would take 2-4 weeks to process.
  • May 15: Responded to email support. no response received.
  • June 13: paramo grass arrived dead. “3 hardy gladiolus bulbs” arrived as a gift, I planted them and they never grew either.
  • June 20th – Blueberry bushes arrived and looked like dead twigs. I planted anyway and tried to nurse to health.
  • Aug 20: Blueberry bush and paramo grass replacements were dead on arrival. they would not replace the replacements.

This was the worst online plant ordering experience I’ve ever had. save yourself the headache and stay away from direct gardening.

where to buy seeds online

select seeds

I mentioned select seeds above for your live plants. I also love receiving my seeds from them.

Cleome seeds and the flower I grew from them.

I purchased cleome (spider flower) seeds in March, 2020 and received them in April, 2020. On the right is a photo of the cleome that I grew from these seed, a photo that I took in September, 2020. Photo by Pretty Purple Door.

Definitely give SelectSeeds a try.

johnny’s selected seeds

johnny’s has set the standard for high-quality seed for the past nearly 50 years by meeting or exceeding federal minimum requirements for germination rates, pathogen testing, and traceability.

ernst seeds

Located in Meadodbrook, Pennsylvania, Earnst Conservation Seeds has a sterling 50-year reputation for helping restore native landscapes.

grow, process, and sell hundreds of species of native and naturalized seed and live plant materials for ecological restoration, sustainable landscaping, reclamation, wetlands, and natural resource conservation.

check their seed search tool or request a catalog on their website. they have some of the best native wildflower seed mixes available today.

summarizing

Buying seeds, plants, shrubs and trees online certainly has its pros and cons. Most online nurseries are reputable and will provide you with much more variety than you can find locally. they are a great option to get exactly what you are looking for. just be sure to check their refund policies and guarantees online before you make that purchase.

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