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Another thread has prompted me to ask whether buying plants on line is now preferable to buying from the garden centres. Increasingly, I buy this way now. I can get the varieties I want and often cheaper than in the g.c. even allowing for postal costs. I've had 3 litre size plants down to 9cm and all have arrived in perfect condition from nurseries I have come to trust. My local g.c., although fairly large, often doesnt stock what I want and the prices there are high. It used to get plants for me but now that service has been discontinued? So, g.c. or mail order?

The variety of plants in garden centres has got very limited and dictated by fashion. I visit plant fairs where the prices are better and the plants more interesting. Also they're sold by people who grew them and can answer questions about them. 

Hi nutcutlet, yes I agree about plant fairs and markets..I've got odd bargain or two over the years

I like both some times good to buy online but some plant can be smaller than garden centres which can make them cheaper.

But I do like to have a look at some plants that I am buying to see how well growing and get some advise, I like to look for plant in the sale and in markets to get the odd bargain.

So both are good for me a I like to visit garden centres and like to have plants delivered to my door.

Do you like to see your plants before you buy or just get them delivered?


Have to say that when we went round a large Garden Centre last week, looking at the prices of their ordinary stuff, never mind anything unusual, we were horrified. They have priced themselves out of our pockets now. Sadly our favourite Nursery (mainly trees and shrubs)  has also put its prices way beyond our pockets too. Like others we go to Plant Fairs and do a little buying online, mostly for rare bulbs which can only be bought that way.



Other sources of interesting plants have been open gardens and road side stalls.

Jean Genie

Talking of interesting plants - this is one I'm going to try next year but think I'll have to source on line.

 It's a Tacca or bat flower. I've just been looking at some G.C. s that stock them .

Definitely on my wish list. Does anyone have one ?

Is it a plant or animal? I always have wish lists for plants? I try to get friends to buy plants too from online supplier to save on postage. Then it often becomes an affordable purchase. But why don't we compare what we have n want? I've exchanged salvias for example.....rooted cuttings....for the cost of the postage only.

The Tacca originates fron warm countrys, Africa, Australia etc. will they do well in our climate?

I think it was Monty who said we should stick with what we grow here and not try for the exotics, I would be very interested to hear from anyone who has had success with this plant.

Back to the original OP, I buy from mail order sites (one in particular) but I do use a local garden centre at the end of the season and have picked up some good hardy perennials for a song. 

We've been renovating an old house for the last 4 years or so and trying to get the garden (an acre and a quarter) sorted at the the same time - with a limited budget. Buying offers - for plants online, - free plus P&P, has been brilliant and has helped fill new, empty beds etc. When I have more time and money, I can be more selective and gradually replace the 'cheap' plants I decide I don't want any more It's been quite a challenge for me - a relatively inexperienced gardener - to cope with loads of small plug plants, but it's also been quite satisfying and also made me buy plants I'd never have considered before

Jean Genie

Lyn, just going off subject - meant to say that I would be treating the Tacca as a conservatory plant. I have a taste for the more exotic plants and love a challenge

Think I'll be looking for a plant though rather than growing from seed - they can take up to 1 year to germinate  Have found a few suppliers now.


Thats good Jean, I wouldnt advise seeds either, they take forever to make a flowering sized tuber.

I overwinter a lot of stuff in the conservatory, I always leave a de humidifier on then water the plants with what it collects. 


In the last year or so I guess I have bought plants from; my favourite local garden centre, an un-favourite g.c., a pound shop, on-line, flower shows, plant auctions, car boots, yard sales, local fetes (a v. good source). If the plant is right and the price is good then I'm not fussy where it comes from. I usually go on line to find out more about it before planting.

I've bought many plants online, but I still enjoy looking round a garden centre or better still a large nursery to see what the plants look like at that time of year


We were very lucky when we began here, a Nursery in our old town was very very cheap (like 10 shrubs for £8.90). Last time we went back there the cheapest shrub was £12.99 for one.

We still look in the bargain corner where ever we go. Amazing what you can pick up, only need ing a little care and attention.

I must admit that I like to see what I am buying which is a bit hard on-line.



Ooh yes, I'm a sucker for bargain corner, there was very good advice on Gardeners Question Time recently about 'rescue plants'; take them out of the pot to see what their root system looks like. I have never actually done this in a nursery, does anyone do this often and not get shouted at by the shop assistants?

Artjak, yes I always,check root,systems. Don't do it in any defensive way. Be loud n proud cos you are paying,for it. Any shop assistant worth their salt will not challenge you if you do this.

Garden centres versus buying on line!

At the GC you can see what is on offer and yes you can tip them out of their pot to see if the roots are healthy,if not you do not have to buy!

Not so buying on line, you get what they send to you and what a load of rubbish I have received last season and this, some of the plants were only fit for the compost bin,both from specialist nurseries and large seed men selling plants!

Then when you inform about the rubbish that they have sent, they reply with, our plants are hand picked they must have slipped through the net, I had some replaced and they were exactly the same as the originals, some selection!

I am a sucker for new varieties and the GCs do not have the latest varieties such as Anemone Wild Swan or Alstroemeria Rock and Roll which took almost a year to get delivered and when they did arrive they had been knocked around in the post AND they were poor specimens as well.  They were in plugs not pots kept for far too long in them, moss was growing on the tops!

But with a lot of TLC they have now shown some signs of life, so roll on next year!

If you were to order any of the above now, deliverly dates are May June next year, so another long wait!

I paid more for the plant plugs which admittingly were new varieties than I would pay for ordinary Alstroemerias or anemones in three litre pots in the GC which I would be happy to do so to get what I want.

And it takes a longer time to produce a plant in a three litre pot than in a plant plug!

I also buy plugs From Jersey and they are always very good, never had any complaints with them!



It's not always so good from garden centres We wanted to look at shrubs in the summer (not really to buy, just getting ideas), so we drove about 30 miles to a GC that had been recomended to us (nearest largish garden centre to us). When we got there, they had quite a small selection of plants and the quality of them was terrible They looked as though they hadn't been watered for a week or more. They were terrible specimens. We spent about 10 minutes there and drove home. One reason why I have liked buying online, I have (so far) only received plants in good condition and have been able to buy what I want without driving a considerable distance

I like to see what I'm buying so tend to lean towards GC's and nursey's. There's quite a few near here, all within 30 mile radius and most of the large GC's sell so much more than plants.

I like the GC Christmas displays so they get a visit now and return visit in the sales if I've seen anything I like.

Always check out the nearly dead section too now, sometimes you can pick up nice pots cheaper with nearly dead plants in than if the pots were empty and if the plants survive with a little TLC it's a bonus.

Also like the free offers with GW where you just pay P & P.