When it comes to buying plants, mail order plant catalogs are a great source for acquiring a variety of plant material, from the usual to the rare. Over the years I have found that I rely more and more on this type of plant buying. I can shop in the comfort of my home, reach markets in larger centers that are normally inaccessible to me, and find plants and seeds that are simply never available through nurseries and garden centers.
Plant mail order catalogs offer everything from trees and shrubs, perennials, vines and bulbs. Seed catalogs generally offer annuals, perennials, vegetables and herbs. You have your general catalogs offering a short selection of many different plants, but even more interesting are those catalogs from specialty growers. Specialty growers focus on a specific genus, such as roses, peonies, iris, alpines, daylilies or lilies. This is where if you have a passion for a particular plant you can wallow in unbelievable choice.
Due to the prohibitive costs of printing and mailing, many growers now use the internet to display their wares. Often these online plant nurseries will have web sites full of beautiful photographs, full descriptions, and plant care information for their products. What you want is a reputable grower that offers healthy plants at a fair price. To help in your search visit many sites, ask friends, neighbors and even garden club members and societies for references.
A good site will be easy to move around, have realistic photography, loads of cultivar information and easy directions for how you order, get in touch with them and what you can expect to receive and when.
Since plants ordered by mail order are generally varieties that ship well, you can expect to receive large, healthy specimens. Usually these plants are shipped bare-root, which simply means without soil. Your plants should be unpacked as soon as they are received, their roots soaked for a few hours, then planted as soon as possible.
If you are a plant collector this is the best way to increase your collection. You will no doubt develop a rather friendly relationship with the grower over time which is rewarding for both seller and buyer.A good seller will go out of their way to source a plant for you even if they do not carry it themselves. Catalog online shopping, either by web or print is a wonderful past time on cold winter days. It’s what garden dreams are made of.