Gardeners can buy plants from local garden centers and other retailers or purchase them online or by mail order. Local retailers allow customers to inspect plants and select the healthiest specimens, but mail order companies can offer savings and wider selections. Online retailers include Park Seed and Hirt’s Farms.
Plants at garden centers are healthiest immediately after arrival, so gardeners should call the garden center to determine shipment delivery dates. Garden centers often begin displaying plants that are not frost-resistant before it is safe to plant them outdoors, so customers should note the appropriate planting times before making purchases.
Gardeners should select plants that appear healthy and free of disease. A tall and leggy plant can indicate stress and overcrowding. Roots coming out of the drainage holes can indicate that the plant is root-bound and not receiving enough nutrients from the soil. Young vegetable plants typically have vibrant, dark green foliage, depending on the variety, so customers should generally avoid plants with pale or yellowing leaves.
Online retailers can be reliable sources for woody plants that ship well, such as fruits, trees, shrubs and roses. Other plants that can grow from bare roots alone, such as strawberries, and plants grown in bulk, such as bedding plants and vegetables, are good candidates for online or mail order.