We will always encourage you to support local businesses like garden centres, but sometimes ordering plants online is a more convenient option. Nationwide and internal online garden centres and plant sellers will – most likely –when freed from the constraints of floorspace be able sell a far greater range of both indoor and outdoor plants which means far more variety (including on-trend rarities) and less fruitless searching for what you know you want.
You shouldn’t necessarily expect instantaneous delivery, since plants – even in greenhouses – obviously grow and mature at specific times. But most online stores do offer a ‘despatch window’ and will list expected arrival times against their products. Alongside traditional nurseries (some of which are over a hundred years old), there’s also a burgeoning industry of houseplant sellers aimed at a younger, less-green-fingered audience looking for faster, easier-to-maintain plants.
But if you do search for plants online, you’ll find there’s an awful lot of sellers out there… So where should you seek out plants online? Read on for our pick of the best places to order plants and houseplants online, for both indoors and outdoors.
We’d still love for you to support local businesses in what are undeniably challenging times, but if getting out simply isn’t an option, our list of plant nurseries with mail order available in the UK could save your day.
Best places to buy plants online in 2021
Dobies was established back in 1894. Then, it was limited to operating in the Chester area, but now delivers its seeds, bedding, bulbs, fruit bushes, and trees across the wider UK. It’s an online garden centre that runs with a distinctly no-nonsense, no-frills ethos. If you head to the site’s ‘Plots, Tips and Advice’ page, you’ll find it chock-full of useful blog posts on growing and caring for a wide variety of different plants.
Thompson & Morgan
Another veteran nursery, Thompson & Morgan can trace its roots to a small garden behind a baker’s shop in Ipswich circa 1855. These days, it’s now the UK’s largest mail-order seed and plant company, although alongside its seed range it also stocks young plants, bulbs, seed potatoes, onions and garlic sets, soft fruit and fruit trees. The company also has its own plant-breeding programme, still based in Suffolk, where it grows new discoveries like ‘Cherry Brandy’ rudbeckia and ‘Buzz’ buddleja. There’s sometimes a little discrepancy in arrival dates – but that’s largely because the growers only dispatch the plants when they’re in prime condition.
Founded in 2000, Crocus is a mere sapling of seller by comparison, but one that’s widely respected, and is now the biggest gardening website in the UK. It not only sells seeds, plants and bulbs, but also does houseplants and flowers. We particularly like its ‘Inspiration’ page, which gives you seasonal ideas for what to plant in your garden. It also offers a bespoke sourcing service, so if you’re after a plant that’s rare and hard-to-find, the staff there will do it for you. AND until the end of Jan you’ll get 10% off at checkout with the code ‘GI21’.
You might call Gardening Express founder Chris Bonnett the Jeff Bezos of online garden centres. Back in the ’90s, when still a teenager, he had already cultivated a passion for gardening and saw the huge potential in internet retail. Fast forward a couple of decades and the site boasts a hugely comprehensive plant catalogue with sections dedicated to everything from climbers and vines to exotic and tropical plants. There’s even a five-year guarantee offered on hardy plants.
Gardening Direct is an online seller with nurseries that span seven acres of greenhouses on Jersey. It sells a wide variety of outdoor plants, including bedding plants like geraniums and begonias, but also features a range of indoor plants such as orchids, yuccas and potted roses. Free delivery is offered on orders of over £50.
Primrose is strictly more of a general garden store stocking a sweeping range of tools, equipment and furniture. But it also has an entire vertical on its site given over to plants which includes ornamental trees and shrubs, climbing plants and fruit trees. Look out for the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit badge on certain plants. This is a marker of a plant’s excellence and resilience in gardens, all done with all the rigorous testing that you’d probably expect from the RHS.
Van Meuwen founder Aart Alders went to a prestigious horticultural college in the Netherlands in the 1960s before making his way over to the UK and ultimately setting up a mail-order company in 1977. The company earned its reputation through strict quality requirements and expert knowledge from its staff. Such is its confidence in its products, the store promises to refund you or replace your plan if there’s no growth after 30 days… and you’ve followed the instructions properly.
Have you heard all that talk about house plants being good for your wellbeing? Bloombox Club CEO Kate Cooper certainly thinks so. She’s a former psychologist who would encourage her clients to surround themselves with plants as part of their therapy. The focus here is definitely on self-care with certain plants listed as immune-boosting and pet-friendly too if you’re nervous about your pooch or kitty. There are also some fabulous pots available, which can be bought in bundle deals with plants.
Bloom & Wild
Bloom & Wild has made its name for itself selling gorgeous bouquet arrangements and super-convenient letterbox flower subscriptions. But the brand also sells a few fabulous house plants. At present, it’s just succulents (in a letterbox tray), bird’s nest ferns, rubber plants and peacock plants that are sold but they’ve plans to expand. We were also delighted to discover that the pots the plants are photographed in are also included in the delivery. Talk about effortless!
Another online house plant seller that has captured a millennial audience – in other words, one with little outdoor space, little garden knowledge and a habit of killing plants in their care (without wanting to generalise, of course). Patch actually sells both indoor and outdoor plants, which are cleverly categorised by size – ‘tiny’ to ‘tall’ – and by the intended room of the house. Rather sweetly, plants are also given names like Dora, Emma and Neva, just in case that Latin is too off-putting.
Root is a particularly eco-friendly online story. Its plants are delivered in recycled cardboard, and filled with packing peas that are made of starch, meaning they can go on your compost heap. It stocks a wide selection of house plants, our favourite of which is their pretty hanging plants. In a canny marketing move, stylish products like ceramic pots, scented candles and art prints are weaved here and there among the plants too.
The Little Botanical
If you really want to search through a comprehensive house plant site, take a look at The Little Botanical. You can filter your search through a long list of criteria. So if, for example, you want a plant that’s patterned and below £40 and low-maintenance (or a ‘survivor’, as they’re called here) then you can tick those boxes, and the results will appear. For reasons of sustainability – essentially making the courier’s trip worthwhile – orders are kept to a minimum of £20.