© Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp
These retailers frequently will have new introductions a year or more before plants are readily available in your local market. For seed selection, the mail-order or online retailers will have dozens more varieties to choose from than most local garden centers.
Seed orders are filled quickly this time of year. Read the packets for specific instructions on when to sow specific seeds indoors or outdoors, spacing, light requirements, thinning and other information.
Live plants are shipped at the appropriate time for planting in your region. Plants may be potted in containers or shipped bare-rooted, where roots are wrapped in newspapers, moss or other material or plastic bags.
The best advice is to plant the specimens outdoors as soon as possible. Your delivery should include instructions on how to care for the plants until planted and planting instructions. You can buy some time by immediately transplanting bare-rooted plants into nursery pots with a good potting mix. Plants shipped in small containers also can be transplanted to larger ones to buy time.
Place the newly transplanted pots outdoors. Water and fertilize as recommended in the shipping instructions. If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to call or e-mail the retailer’s customer service department.
Here’s a small sample of mail-order or online retailers and their specialties. For a more complete list, click here to visit the National Mailorder Gardening Association.
Gourmet, heirloom vegetables and herbs
- Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds offers 1,275 unique heirloom varieties from more than 70 countries. (417) 924-8917, http://rareseeds.com/
- Cook’s Garden has more than 50 types of lettuces as well as dozens of other gourmet vegetables and herbs, including many organic seeds. (800) 457-9703, http://www.cooksgarden.com/
- Johnny’s Selected Seeds specializes in high-quality vegetable seeds, medicinal and culinary herb seeds and flower seeds, especially for northern climates. (877) 564-6697, http://www.johnnyseeds.com/
- Seeds of Change offers more than 600 varieties of 100 percent organically grown seeds for the home gardener. (888) 762-7333, http://www.seedsofchange.com/
- Wood Prairie Farm specializes in organic seeds, including several types of potatoes. (800) 829-9765, http://www.woodprairie.com/
Flowering plants and vegetables
- Burpee offers 1,275 unique heirloom varieties from more than 70 countries. (417) 924-8917, http://www.burpee.com/
- Harris Seed, founded in 1876, has hundreds of heirloom and hybrid vegetables, herbs and flowers as well as plants. (800) 333-5808, http://www.harrisseeds.com/
- Park Seed, founded in 1868, specializes in vegetables, fruits and annuals, including organics. (800) 213-0076, http://www.parkseed.com/
- Select Seeds/Antique Flowers has a wide selection of high-quality flower seeds and plants, specializing in old-fashioned fragrant varieties, flowering vines and rare cottage garden annuals. (800) 684-0395, http://www.selectseeds.com/
- Thompson & Morgan is a well-known English seed merchant that specializes in annuals, including many for cool seasons and cutting gardens. (800) 274-7333, http://www.tmseeds.com/
Perennials and ground covers
- Bluestone Perennials specializes in low-cost, high quality perennials in small pots. (800) 852-5243, http://www.bluestoneperennials.com/
- Great Garden Plants, an online only retailer, has high quality perennials and small shrubs with deep discounts on multiple orders. (877) 447-4769, http://www.greatgardenplants.com/
- High Country Gardens specializes in plants, including many natives, for dry, hot climates. (800) 925-9387, http://www.highcountrygardens.com/
- Plants Delight Nursery specializes in plants for shade, especially hostas, and plants for the south. (919) 772-4794, http://www.plantdelights.com/
- Munchkin Nurseries specializes in shade-loving and woodland plants, including many natives. (812) 633-4858, http://www.munchkinnursery.com/
Trees, shrubs, fruits and nuts
- Fairweather Gardens specializes in unusual trees, shrubs and perennials. (856) 451-6261, http://www.fairweathergardens.com/
- Forest Farm has high-quality trees and shrubs in various sizes, including smaller specimens for mass plantings. (541) 846-7269, http://www.forestfarm.com/
- Heirloom Roses has hard to find, unusual roses. (503) 538-1576, http://www.heirloomroses.com/
- Rarefind Nursery specializes in azaleas, rhododendrons and magnolias, including many natives. (732) 833-0613, http://www.rarefindnursery.com/
- Raintree Nursery specializes in fruits, nuts and berries. (360) 496-6400, http://www.raintreenursery.com/