Is buying plants or cuttings online safe? This question has become a common concern in today’s gardening world.
If you’re a plant lover, you’ve probably visited your local nursery several times. While nurseries are a delightful place for getting plants and cuttings, their stock is usually limited. Nurseries will usually only stock what they think is in demand.
That’s why many plant enthusiasts are looking at online options as well. The question that remains here is: is buying plants or cuttings online safe?
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Sure, buying plants online will give you a wide choice that might not be available otherwise. You can get specimen trees, exotic growths, and heirloom roses with the click of a button.
What’s more, the process might be safer and less time-consuming than physically going to a nursery or florist.
As with any kind of online shopping, it’s a matter of knowing what precautions to take. Let’s discuss this matter in a bit more detail before we decide about buying those cuttings online.
Is Buying Plants or Cuttings Online Safe?
The answer to the question “is buying plants or cuttings online safe?” isn’t as clear-cut as it seems. To start with, here are just a few of the ups and downs you can expect when ordering such items online:
Downsides of buying plants and cuttings online
We’ll start with the disadvantages of ordering plants and cuttings using any form of online platform. This could include social media accounts, websites, or even text messaging.
It’s a gamble
No matter how many photos of plants and cuttings we see, we can never be sure of getting a decent plant or cutting.
Every retailer will be showing beautiful photos and giving blowing descriptions of their stock. But they might not be clear about exactly what to expect for the price.
Several problems might arise with packing plants especially if they’re on the small side. You’d have to be sure that the retailer is knowledgeable enough to package everything properly; otherwise, there’s a risk of getting broken or crushed plants.
When you’re wondering, “is buying plants or cuttings online safe?” the soil is a whole other consideration you should be looking into. You should ask the vendor whether they ship soil or whether you’ll have to make the necessary arrangements on your own.
Upsides of buying plants and cuttings online
There are numerous advantages to buying such items online. These include the following.
The foremost reason for ordering anything online is the convenience factor. You get the cuttings right at your door. This also means that you can update your collection right away.
Some plant lovers might not want to venture into a public space due to the widespread virus or other health issues. For them, ordering online is the safest way to indulge in their passion. If you’re one of those with such concerns, ordering online is the best bet for you.
Retailers are knowledgeable
Once you find a reliable vendor, it’s usually safe to assume that they’ll package their plants in the correct way. They’ll be putting each plant in a separate box — with plastic pouches to provide extra padding.
Making It a Safe Experience: 12 Safety Tips for Buying Plants Online
When you’re asking “is buying plants or cuttings online safe?”, the answer will depend partly on the process. Not every online shopping experience is the same. So, you might have to shop around a bit before finding just the right vendor.
Luckily, you do have the benefit of feedback and reviews from other plant enthusiasts that might have posted about their experiences online. If you take out the time to read up on the tips they give you, you just might be able to avoid negative online shopping experiences altogether.
We’ve managed to make things easier for you by noting the top tips for safely buying plants and cuttings online.
These guidelines will hopefully ensure that the items meet all expectations once you receive the package. This will be convenient. It will also save you a lot of hassle regarding complaints, refunds, exchanges, returns, etc.
Let’s get started now.
1. Read as many customer reviews as possible
Several kinds of plants and cuttings are available on Amazon as well as on other platforms, such as Etsy. Some of these might have more reviews than others.
A load of reviews is a good sign. It indicates that there were a lot of customers for that item and that people were passionate enough to post about the buying and growing experience online.
While it may not be possible to read every single review on every likely product, you should be trying to read at least a few from every platform. Some seller reviews might be available on Yelp and Google while on-site customer reviews could also help.
Make sure to read some under every kind of rating. You want to know the absolute worst thing to expect as well as the best aspects of what you’re considering.
Overall, reviews give you a lot of insight into the whole experience. That way, you get some idea about the shipping and transaction process, the product itself, and the after-sales service.
Each of these factors is important for a potential customer. So, read up and make your decision accordingly.
[amazon bestseller=”live houseplants” items=”5″]
2. Read the fine print
The images on a website or social media page are just a representation of the plant’s appearance after proper care and love. However, do read the fine print and ascertain what you can actually expect to receive.
Chances are high that the pictured plant isn’t exactly what you get. You might be getting bare-root plants, potted ones, or just young cuttings. Read up on the seller policies so that you’ll be prepared about what to expect.
3. Consider your space
You might want a certain type of plant. But the zone requirements might not be ideal for it. Plants require different temperatures.
You can get help here by looking into a USDA zone map for plant hardiness. This is a map that breaks down regions in the U.S. according to the lowest winter temperature on average.
Check out which zone you’re in before you start buying any plants online. This research will boost your chances of getting good growth.
4. Keep the planting time in mind
Certain varieties of plants, cuttings, and flowers have different planting times. These are important if you want a decent result. So, don’t end up purchasing tomato plants in Minnesota during the off-season. The best time to plant these in that region is late April and May.
You can find a lot of online suppliers that tell you about the zones for each plant. This precaution is especially important for online sellers. They shouldn’t sell you something that isn’t suitable for your zone.
5. Decide the location
If you’re going for an ornamental variety, consider the final home for your plant. Browse the online description and make sure the spread and height of the plant are what you’re looking for.
This will give you a good idea of where to locate the plant in your garden.
6. Keep the plant’s requirements in mind
If you’re still a gardening novice, you’d want a hardy plant that’s difficult to kill. Consider whether the plant will grow in the kind of soil you have, whether it’s perennial, and whether you want some color as well.
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Those with a higher level of gardening experience can also look for some delicate options.
Once you’ve made the decision about your plants, ask around or read up on their needs and requirements. That information will decide which options are best for your environment.
7. Consider expedited shipping
If your plants have to travel a long way to your home, see if you can opt for expedited shipping. The extra investment is worth it as plants can’t stand being boxed up for more than five days without any direct sun.
8. Check the return and refund policies
When gardeners ask “is buying plants or cuttings online safe?” they’re also concerned about whether they can return a defective plant or get a refund. Keep in mind that a reliable seller will usually accept returns. That’s because they have quality plants and rarely receive complaints.
Stay safe while buying any plants or cuttings online by ensuring that a refund and return policy exists. That way, the customer gets compensated if the plant arrives in a damaged condition, not packed properly, or is the wrong item altogether.
9. Know your garden
If everything you plant in your garden seems to rot away, the question might not be “is buying plants or cuttings online safe?” What you need to ask is “is my garden safe for the plants?”
If you can’t get a plant to flourish, your gardening site might be the problem.
For instance, a certain gardener might only be trying out plants that need a lot of sunlight but their yard is perpetually shady. They can assess and change the conditions by pruning back some trees or opting for different plants.
When you’re shopping online, ensure that the plants you buy will match your site even if you want to grow indoor plants in a planter. Mismatches might still occur. So, you should see if you can place those plants somewhere else and save them.
10. Look for the story
One of the most frustrating aspects of online shopping for plants and cuttings might be the lack of details and photos. For instance, if you’re looking for a flowering plant, the website might only have a photograph of a single flower.
This isn’t much help especially if it was captured as a close-up or is an edited version. You need to know what the plant will look like in reality. So, now is the time to go in search of its story.
When you want to answer the question, “is buying plants or cuttings online safe?” see if the platform gives you a view of the item from each angle. You want to see the shape, leaf texture, buds, and how the whole thing looks when planted in a pot or the ground.
Some online sellers might even have photographs of the plant from around the world so that potential buyers can get a feel of how it will look in real life. That’s your goal: to reach the right seller.
11. Try combinations
When you’re thinking “is buying plants or cuttings online safe?” the foremost concern might be that you don’t get to touch the items before choosing them.
When shopping at a nursery, you can touch every leaf, see if it’s fresh, and stick it with other plants to see the effect.
Fortunately, technology comes to the rescue here. A social media platform called Pinterest now allows you to try different plant combinations. This will help you develop themes in the garden or just help in seeing what looks nice.
While it’s still not possible to touch the plants, you’ll at least be able to see the possible combinations before placing a final order.
12. See if you’re comfortable with risk
We might know the specific conditions of our area. But we may still want to experiment with plants that seem useful or pretty to us. This might mean playing around with plants that aren’t native to our region.
Some of these experiments might be successful, which will be a delightful surprise. Others won’t be. So you should be prepared for the possibility of disappointment. If you’re not comfortable with such risks, it might be best to stick with the safe options for now.
It’s Time to Grab That Green Beauty
At the end of it all, you have to give yourself some space while shopping online. Not every purchase is going to be perfect, and you might end up throwing some things out.
All of these experiences are part of the process. While shopping for plants and cuttings at the local nursery might be a bit safer, it’s not a risk-free method either.
As plant lovers and enthusiasts, we should be focusing on taking care of our plants and growing them in the best way possible. Buying them online could be safe to some extent. So, don’t hesitate before using this modern convenience!
Is there anything else you think buyers should look out for when they decide to buy plants online? Help out our other readers by sharing your tips in the comments!