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Buying plants online

Hannah Jolliffe / 21 March 2016 ( 24 September 2020 )

Find out why so many savvy gardeners are now buying their plants from online garden centres.

Buying plants online
Buying plants online can give you a better choice of plants as well as being convenient

Plants may not be the first thing you think of to order online, but there are many benefits to buying plants from online garden centres. You’ll find a huge variety of plants and accessories to choose from, all from the comfort of your own home – and you could even save money.

More choice when you buy online

Perhaps the most obvious benefit when you start shopping online for plants is the sheer amount of choice available. Even the biggest and best local garden centres would struggle to compete on their range of stock. You’ll find bedding plants, perennials, shrubs, trees, bulbs and fruit and vegetables – and many come in a selection of sizes from plugs through to large plants.

Stephen Hackett runs a gardening business called The Constant Gardener and regularly shops online for plants. “There is a much better choice than in garden centres or many general nurseries, and it’s less seasonal – if I am buying for clients I can shop around and get the best prices and the right varieties,” he says.

Zoe, a keen gardener, also buys a lot of plants online. “I buy all manner of plants online from fruit trees to sweet pea seedlings. There is a far greater variety available online that you would never find in your local garden centre.”

Garden-ready plants and pre-planted containers

Online garden centres are able to sell plants in a whole range of sizes, from seeds to established container plants and everything in between. This allows buyers the opportunity to choose the right blend of plant size and cost to suit their needs, with plugs, ready plants and jumbo plants all available to buy.

Depending on size, some plugs need a little bit of growing on at home before being planted outside while others can go straight in the ground or container. Buying trays of small plugs and growing them on and hardening off can be a very cost-effective way of planting up bedding plants in borders and containers.

Find out how to get the best from your plug plants

The convenience of home delivery

Many of us don’t have large garden centres nearby – and even if we do, we need a car to carry all those plants home. Buy bigger plants, shrubs or trees and your car may not even be big enough.

Stocking up online offers a far easier way to get your plants delivered straight to your door. Just make sure you check any delivery information before ordering as some plants take longer to arrive as they can only be shipped at certain times of year. It’s also a good idea to be in to take the plants personally when they arrive – they shouldn’t be left in their packaging for too long and it's worth checking for damage straight away.

Online garden centres will often also supply heavy items such as compost, large bags of birdseed and garden tools which would be heavy and cumbersome to pick up from a shop.

Save money online

As is often the case with online shopping, websites can offer the same products at more competitive prices because they have fewer overheads and operating costs. Be savvy and shop around for the best deals and you’ll end up with a lot more for your money.

“Generally online prices are lower than garden centres and if you put in bigger orders it reduces postage and packaging costs, too,” explains Stephen. “Register for email updates from suppliers – they often have vouchers, free postage etc. But make sure you watch out for ‘free’ offers where the postage payable is as much as the plant would cost!”


You may wonder how the quality can compare when a plant has to be sent out, however the online retailers have developed clever packaging to ensure plants arrive in great condition. And if they don’t, they should have a robust returns system in place so you can get a decent replacement – it’s a good idea to check their returns policy and customer reviews before ordering.

“I know the quality of the plants I am ordering because I usually deal with household names,” says Zoe. “The only problems I have had is when plants arrive and I am away. Young plants need water and not to get too cold.”

Great for gifts

Order online and you can easily arrange for plants to be sent anywhere in the country – the perfect way to make someone’s special day!

Many online garden centres also offer pre-planted containers, hanging baskets and gift sets, such as hand tools and gloves, which all make great presents for birthdays and celebrations.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.