The Best Mail-Order Plant Sources
Our favorite sources for mail order succulents, orchids, mosses, and other rare plants.
It used to be that if you lived in Alaska and lusted for mini orchids, or if your home was in Georgia but your heart was with rare desert cactus, you were out of luck. Not anymore, thanks to the fact that so many plant clearinghouses and specialist growers have gone online and will ship high-quality specimens nationwide—like the mosses pictured above from Moss Acres, growers of garden and terrarium mosses, which are mailed dry and ready for hydration. The websites themselves are a pleasure to peruse, with gorgeous photographs and a wealth of information about the plants they provide; many also offer expert advice via e-mail and phone. How do you find the particular online source that sells just the succulent or edible plant you covet? Go to davesgarden.com to trawl the Garden Watch Dog, an online directory of over 7,100 mail-order plant sources. A selection of our favorites is featured on the following pages.
Rare Find Nursery focuses on unusual hardy plants, including woody shrubs and trees like the Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Pee Wee,’ shown. During fall foliage season, this charming dwarf form of the common oakleaf hydrangea packs loads of visual impact into its three- to four-foot form. As with all mail-order plants, open the box immediately and follow the accompanying care instructions; note the advice to water the plant and give it plenty of light straight away.
If you live in an area with little water but lots of sun, try Simply Succulents for an extensive selection of drought-resistant hardy plants, including an array of sempervivum (hens and chicks), shown.
J&L Orchids sources a wide range of fragrant and miniature orchids, among them the windowsill-loving Oncidium ‘Yellow Twinkle,’ shown left.
In late winter to early summer, Puya venusta (shown) sends up a 40-inch-long, deep purple bloom. It’s available with other California wildflowers and heirloom plants from Annie’s Annuals and Perennials.
Rock or trough gardeners score dwarf conifers like the variegated Juniperus squamata ‘Floriant’ (left) through Tiny Treasures.
And if you’re hankering for something utterly new for your garden or containers, Plant Delights offers nursery introductions like this Agave schidigera ‘Shira ito no Ohi,’ a slow-growing plant that’s great in a pot.