It used to be the only way to get live plants and seeds, was to travel to a nursery. Sure the local hardware store might carry a few seeds such as tomato or carrots, and the florist shop might have some live plants, but if you wanted variety, you went to the local nursery or you did without. Nowadays, with the internet, as well as next-day shipping, you can buy from large nurseries hundreds or even thousands of miles away. But should you go local or national?
Here are some factors to consider.
There is no question that local nurseries have trouble keeping up with the big boys. If price alone is your major factor, particularly when it comes to seeds, online is generally the way to go.
This one is a toss-up. While nine times out of ten the larger online nurseries offer an overall better choice, local nurseries often carry specialty plants such as the particular breed of roses that are native to the local area. If you want to just go with overall variety, then go online. But if you want a particular type of grass or a particular species of roses, consider looking locally first.
No waiting time
Here the local nurseries have the advantage. If they have what you want in stock, you can take it home today. No waiting one or two days for the delivery, plus you don’t have to have someone home waiting for it. You just take it now. And that can be a big advantage for people who are extremely busy.
The health of the plants
When you order plants from an online nursery, generally they take good care of them because if they don’t, people will stop ordering from them. That said, being able to physically inspect the plants locally before you buy is a great advantage.
When you buy online you are seeing a photo representing the plant you are considering buying. It’s not the exact plant. Whereas, when you buy locally, what you see is exactly what you get. This is not to say that every online plant source is a problem, but you do have to carefully examine their website to see what to do if you are unsatisfied with what they send you.
Consider your growing zone and season
If you order a tree from an online store in Florida in January, the will send you that tree within a day or two. The problem though is that you live in Minnesota, you can’t expect to plant a tree in your back yard in January. In addition, you might be buying a plant that will never survive the winters in Minnesota.
Therefore, if you order online, be sure and consult them by phone, in advance, to see if this is the appropriate plant for your area, and when is the best time to plant it. You’ll always get such information locally, but online can be a gamble.