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Ordering Plants on the Internet or by Catalog

If you want to include some of the newest varieties of plants in your garden, consider ordering plants from internet sites or through catalogs. New plant varieties are usually limited in supply during the first few years they are offered for sale, so many plant breeders distribute them only through nurseries that sell mail order plants. Mail order nurseries also offer larger selections of vegetables, flowers, shrubs, and trees than local stores, and since some mail order companies specialize in certain types of plants, they often offering dozens of different varieties.

If you are thinking of ordering plants for your garden, consider the following:

  • Place your order early in the season. Some companies offer discounts to those who order early, but even if they do not, new varieties frequently sell out quickly, so you risk disappointment if you wait too long. The nursery will not ship your plants until you are ready for them in the spring.
  • Be aware that when your plants arrive, they will not look like the fully grown specimens pictured in the catalogs. Because paying to ship large containers filled with dirt is so expensive, the mail order containers will be smaller than the quart size pots found in most local nursery yards. These smaller plants will take longer to grow to full size and may not even bloom the first year. They may also need extra attention and watering to survive.
  • Many mail order nurseries ship plants, especially roses, trees, and shrubs, in a dormant “bare root” form that arrives looking like dead sticks. You will need to follow the directions for handling these plants very carefully if they are to successfully thrive. With proper care these plants will grow just as satisfactorily as those purchased in containers filled with soil.

Be sure to check the hardiness of any new plant variety you are thinking of buying. Some recently developed cultivars are not as tough as the old fashioned varieties. Those with variegated leaves may need more sun than the plain leafed types.

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