The internet is a vast and often confusing source of houseplants for sale. There are thousands of sellers, tons of plants in all different forms, and a whole jumble of quality issues. Yet, how do you know who is reliable and that what you are getting is top value?
These days, it seems everyone and their mother is selling plants online. After all, all you need is a few houseplants and basic knowledge of propagation techniques. There are plants for sale in every corner of the web, it seems, and it’s incredibly overwhelming.
Why Buy Plants Online?
While it’s nice to buy locally and get the instant gratification of bringing home a plant the same day, local stores don’t always have a large stock. Sometimes the only way to get that wish list houseplant is to venture into the online marketplace. Online stores also often have better prices, which can make quite a difference when it comes to those rare or unusual houseplants.
Shopping online is also a great way to order houseplants out-of-season when local retailers aren’t keeping a robust inventory. Sometimes, going online is the only choice when you need that houseplant fix. Online plant shopping is also ideal if there is a terrible lack of quality plant stores in your area. Houseplant shopping online opens up a whole new world of possibilities.
Top 5 Best Places To Buy Houseplants Online
Here are our top 5 picks for the best places to buy houseplants online:
Featuring curated collections and an excellent variety, Horti is top on the list for quality, care, and commitment to its customers. Horti sells individual plants, like the Crispy Wave Fern, Rattlesnake Calathea, and ZZ Plant. While the houseplant selection isn’t expansive, the diligence and passion of the owners are apparent and a welcome change from many larger operations.
A big draw to Horti is the Plant Subscription Box and Order A Jungle box. Both these options let Horti hand-pick houseplants for you on a one-off or ongoing basis. This is a great way to add to your collection even if you don’t know precisely what you want.
Horti includes plant-care guides with every order and offers a plant insurance program, too, which is like 911 for your plants. Also, check out their Plant Kindness program, where you can give the gift of a plant to a stranger.
With literally hundreds of houseplants to choose from, Plantvine has it all. They are extremely upfront about what you are getting, even sending a photo of the actual plant before shipping it. From Sansevierias to Monsteras to Alocasias, the variety is astounding. For the most part, these are small or medium-sized plants shipped in pots. PlantVine offers options on the size, and their pricing is decent for the quality you receive.
PlantVine doesn’t operate out of a shop or do its own propagation. Instead, they go to the nurseries where they’re located (the houseplant mecca, Florida) and hand-pick your plant. The big box stores (which will go unmentioned) also source their plants from nurseries in Florida, but we know they do not take the same care with sourcing or shipping that PlantVine does.
We especially love the way PlantVine uses categories like Pet-Friendly and Medicinal to ease the browsing process. This is a fantastic selection of rooted and mature plants in pots.
The leading source of all things houseplant, Etsy is a virtual treasure trove of varieties and species. Etsy is a global marketplace, and anyone can set up a store, so while the selection is seemingly infinite, it is essential to vet the seller before buying. However, because there are so many houseplant storefronts, there is a good competition which means better prices for you, the buyer.
Etsy options run the gamut; you can get cuttings, small plants, fully mature plants, and all the accessories to go with them. The experience here, though, will depend significantly on the individual seller. Make sure you read the reviews, especially about packing and shipping, as this is where inexperienced sellers fall short.
Etsy is our favorite place to get deals, purchase cuttings (which are much less expensive than a mature plant), and find odd and unusual houseplants.
Some of our favorite Etsy houseplant stores:
- The Longevity Garden – Amazing selection with some really unique listings. Mostly 4-6” pots and very good pricing. Seller has impeccable reviews
- My Plant Obsession – Sells bulbs and 4-6” baby houseplants. Decent selection and stellar reviews.
- Succulent Creationz – All things succulent, and such a collection! One of the best online sources of succulents. Sells small plants and cuttings.
- Sweet Succulentz – Another fantastic source of succulents, this seller also has cacti and a limited selection of small tropical houseplants.
- Samantha’s Botany Bay – Cuttings at incredible prices. Not an extensive inventory, but good variety with some rare finds, too.
For a perfectly curated plant in a sleek, modern pot that can go from the shipping box to the countertop, Leon & George is the best option. Their style isn’t cheap, but for a no-fuss, no-worry plant acquisition, it’s top-notch. Leon & George appeals to a sophisticated taste and is perfect for finding office and staging plants.
This is the place to get full-grown 5-feet plus tall plants (with a price that matches!). Leon & George offers various pot colors along with plant stands and access to their expert Plant Doctors for care tips and help.
Rooted is a fun plant shop with all the classics, like Philodendron, Pothos, Alocasia, Dracaena, and Calathea. Plants are sold in a range of sizes, from small babies to full-grown 5-foot tall specimens. Each plant is given an amusing name, like Calvin or Gerard, turning the business of plant-buying into a friendly, intimate experience.
Rooted sells from their own greenhouse, and carries a variety of supplies and gifts, too. In addition to the popular houseplant varieties, they also have air plants, succulents, cacti, and herbs. Rooted does monthly subscription boxes, as well, including a pet-friendly one, which our furry friends appreciate.
Online Houseplant Shopping Considerations
Ordering a living thing online brings up a lot of concerns. If the plant gets damaged in transit, it’s often not recoverable. Plus, what a disappointment to wait for the delivery only to receive a dead or dying plant.
While a lot of the responsibility of safe plant transit is on the seller’s shoulders, there are also things that you can do as the buyer to reduce issues.
Time of Year
Shipping plants in the heat of summer requires very different packing techniques than in the freezing winter. Many reputable plant sellers won’t ship when the temperatures are at their most extreme because the plant quality can’t be guaranteed.
It isn’t just about the weather where you live, though. Before ordering any plant online, look up where the seller is located and consider the weather in all the places the plant will travel through. Many retailers are located in warm or tropical zones, and while they make sure it’s packed well, it won’t make a difference if it’s below 30F where you live.
A lot of plant sellers will ship anywhere, any time of year, but at your own risk. It’s your responsibility to consider the temperatures and potential problems the in-transit plant will have.
Good online sellers will offer a heat pack, usually at an additional cost, to be packed with the plants. It’s up to you to order one if necessary.
Size and Form of the Houseplant
Are you buying a full-grown plant or a cutting? This makes a huge difference in shipping, care, and packing. Buying cuttings is less expensive, but the roots are generally more fragile because they’re exposed. A young or mature plant will cost more, but the roots will be more stable. On the other hand, the foliage is in danger of being damaged in transit.
A standard size houseplants come in is small and rooted in 2-6″ pots. This is a nice size because the roots are in the soil, yet the plant isn’t too unwieldy to ship.
Also, pay attention to whether the price includes a permanent pot (“living-room ready”) or whether it’s in a nursery pot and will need repotting soon after you receive it. This will influence the bottom line, including how it is shipped.
Before You Buy…
Here are some tips to consider before you buy houseplants online:
Do your research on the seller
We cannot stress this enough. There are a lot of scammers and opportunists out there looking to cash in on the houseplant trend. Like with all things, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. In addition to opportunists, there are also just clueless or uncaring sellers who will throw your new purchase in a box with insufficient packaging without regard.
Look at reviews from other customers. Find out how long the company or seller has been in business. And, where are they located? Some states and countries have shipping restrictions on plants and won’t allow them across borders.
Is the seller operating out of their basement, or is it an actual store? A basement business isn’t always bad, but it may mean they aren’t licensed, reducing the chances of problems being fixed appropriately.
Pay special attention to reviews about quality. There are horrific reviews of sellers sending plants with bugs, fungus, or disease.
Verify the shipping method
Are they sending it via the Post Office, UPS, FedEx, or another delivery service, and it is being shipped next day, 3-day, or general delivery? All of these components are critical to the plant’s health during transit. Is it being insured? Who is responsible for damage, if any, and what is the process for lodging complaints.
How To Avoid Scam Houseplant Sellers
The online houseplant world is rife with scams. Because there are so many small-scale plant sellers, it’s impossible to know or keep track of them all. Also, since the money is sent in advance to the seller, it’s easy for an unscrupulous person to take advantage of houseplant parents.
A common scam is for the seller to just pocket the money and never send anything; then, they move their listing to another marketplace to repeat it again. Here’s how not to let this happen to you:
- Don’t rely on pictures alone. Pictures can be taken at deceiving angles that may have you thinking you’re getting a bigger plant than is actually being offered. Always ask for measurements if they aren’t already listed in the description. Most houseplants are priced by size, so the seller could be trying to charge you more than the plant is worth by making it appear bigger.
- Read the description closely. Is the photo of the mother plant which you’ll get a cutting from, or are they selling the fully mature plant? Many sellers post a picture of the mature plant so you can see what yours will grow into eventually. They aren’t trying to scam you, but this makes things confusing.
- The description should clarify for you the size and maturity of the plant. If it doesn’t, contact the seller and ask the exact size plant they’re selling and whether it’s a cutting. It’s up to you, as the buyer, to verify any ambiguousness.
- We all want to find that miracle plant with the equally miraculous price, but seriously, the chances of that happening are super slim. Don’t let your hopefulness turn into a bad buying decision. Check out the seller, ask questions, and don’t let them pressure you.
- Research the plant before buying. Last year, the plant community went crazy over a new Philodendron variegation – the “Pink Congo.” The leaves were completely pink, and folks paid big money to get one.
- It turns out, growers were chemically treating the plants with a gas that made the leaves temporarily change color. A few weeks after the buyer received their plant, the whole thing would revert back to green. Any new or unique variegation, in particular, should be researched thoroughly!
- Communication is key. If the seller is acting vague or stringing you along, it’s best to walk away. Listen to your gut.
As long as you do your due diligence, buying plants online doesn’t have to be a scary or unnerving process. In fact, it’s a great way to acquire hard-to-get plants and find some good deals. Just don’t let your love of new plant babies cloud your decision making and you’ll be fine!