Gardening Articles: Flowers :: Bulbs

Garden Shopping by Mail and Web

by National Gardening Association Editors

Shopping by mail or the Web is like having the world's largest garden center at your fingertips, an experience most gardeners instinctively understand. They've come to rely on the convenience and variety that remote shopping provides for these items, but when it comes to horticultural supplies and live plants, many gardeners are reluctant. It's understandable to want to see the plants and products before you buy and to be certain you can return them if problems arise.

Though shopping by mail-order catalog or on the Web doesn't offer the immediate gratification of buying at a local nursery, it does offer numerous advantages. Catalog and Web shopping is not just convenient for the avid gardener, it's essential. Given the extreme diversity of the plant world, not even the largest nursery can begin to stock everything you might want.

With many companies placing their entire catalog or product line on the Web, it's easier than ever to search for a specific item, comparison shop, and obtain detailed information about a plant or product before buying it. Shopping by mail allows you to track down an unusual alpine plant for your rock garden or finally get your hands on a rare orchid available from only a few specialists--without slogging through crowds or traffic.

Garden catalogs aren't limited to plants; you can also buy a variety of tools, pest control products, drip irrigation supplies, even a greenhouse kit. Buying costlier items by mail (and from a different state) may also save you from paying state tax.

To ensure a positive shopping experience, here are some tips on choosing the right catalog, reading and ordering from catalogs (whether print or electronic), and what to do when your plants arrive.

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