The Plants By Mail FAQ
maintained by Joe Robinson since 1995
founded by Peter Leppik
After almost seven years, it is time to pass the Website/USENET FAQ to the next
keeper of the flame. Write to Faqsite maintainer, Terry Lea, at
email@example.com from now onward, as she is the keeper of the FAQ.
This document is intended to introduce readers to the world of buying plants by
mail order; and also to serve as a central clearinghouse for information about
contacting various mail order plant houses. I don't make claims about being more
informed on this topic than your average Joe; Peter saw the need and compiled the
original file material, and I'm willing to put forth the effort to continue
and maintaining this.
Entries to the FAQ websitelist (http://plantsbymail.net ) include a notation of
time (season, if not month and year) when last change to a list entry was made.
Comments and additions to the FAQ may be made directly directly to Terry at
Note: Sending email to the PBM-FAQ will NOT get you a free catalog. I don't do
catalogs. Lately I've been getting a quite a bit of, "Please send me your Park
catalog" and the like. This is not what the PBM-FAQ's about. It's about ordering
plants by mail, its trials, tribulations and successes.
The version of this FAQ posted to USENET used to include the complete list of
with addresses and gardener comments. This is no longer done: the catalog
outgrew the USENET FAQ. Instead, the catalog lists can be accessed at
http://plantsbymail.net/ . If you don't have WWW access, you can send E-mail to
firstname.lastname@example.org, telling Terry which catalogs you want address information
perhaps she'll send you those particular entries. At last count, over 800
listed on the site.
It seems that one of the most common article titles in rec.gardens is, "How can
XYZZY?" or, "The Plugh company sent me a catalog. Are they any good?" I hope to
to answer some of these questions in a reasonably definitive manner (the first
the second harder), and provide the neophyte with some introduction to buying
My experience in this area has been short, but intense. After finally moving
small condo into a real house (with a YARD and a GARDEN even!) in 1993, one of
projects was to begin widespread replanting of the yard (which was mostly boring
or very ugly hybrid poplars). To do that, I began ordering large numbers of
plants from a number of mail-order houses. Some were good, some were bad, and I
a lot about what to look for and what to avoid.
How To Tell a Good Company from a Bad One
(or: Things To Look For Before Taking the Plunge)
If you are like me, you probably have a dozen or two catalogs from various
fancy, others plain, and you're wondering who to order from and how to tell the
difference between a place that really cares, and a place that is just trying to
some poor, pathetic bits of green stuff on The Gullible Majority. In this
will outline what I think a good mail order company should do, and what you
consider before buying a plant sight-unseen. Keep in mind that this is aimed at
relative neophyte, who needs a little more service than the extremely experienced
gardener....there are plenty of companies which provide good plants, but don't
the level of service than many gardeners need.
What a Good Mail-Order Company Will Do
1. Every perennial in the catalog should have a clearly indicated hardiness
That is, for every perennial (anything you expect to last more than one year)
have indicated which USDA hardiness zones it will survive in. Simple adjectives
"hardy," or "tender," are NOT sufficient. Perhaps I am biased, being a Minnesota
currently living in Illinois, but I have seen too many catalogs which do not include