We will always encourage you to support local businesses like garden centres, but sometimes ordering plants online is a more convenient option. Nationwide and international 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 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 to buy plants online? Read on for our pick of the best places to get mail-order plants and houseplants.
Best places to buy plants online in 2022
Best places to buy outdoor plants online
Buying outdoor plants online can be a bit of a minefield, with things arriving in a mess of compost, much smaller than expected or with pests and diseases. To avoid these risks, it is always best to buy from a reputable seller who you know will be packing your plants with care. Increasingly, nurseries are switching to more eco friendly packaging, too – so this is worth checking as well. Here we round up some of the best places to buy plants online, including some of the best online garden centres and nurseries.
More like this
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 one of the best online garden centres and 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'.
Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants
Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants is one of the UK's leading plant nurseries, and they've been doing mail order for years, fine tuning the process to perfection. Founded in 1988 by Rosy Hardy (pictured), they are a family run business stocking over 1200 plant varieties. As a Chelsea gold-medal-winning nursery, you know that you're buying expertly grown plants when you shop from Hardy's.
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.
Botanico specialise in growing rare and unusual plants, so they are a great place to visit if you're looking for something on the more exotic side. What's more is they grow seventy per cent of their plants on site and deliver in recyclable packaging.
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.
All of the plants at the Beth Chatto nursery are propagated, grown and tended on site. The plants are propagated according to the legendary founder Beth Chatto's methods. There is a wide range of around 2,000 unusual plants available, with very helpful descriptions. You can search for plants alphabetically, by growing collection (eg bees, bugs and butterflies) or by garden conditions (eg dry areas, damp areas, shade).
Calamazag Nursery are one of the best places to buy outdoor plants online. They grow over a thousand varieties of plant and specialise in Dianthus.
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.
Claire Austin is the daughter of the legendary late rose breeder, David Austin, and has followed in her father's footsteps with her own specialist plant nursery. She offers a wide range of easy to grow perennials, peonies and irises, all grown at the nursery. You can search for plants alphabetically, by type, or by collection (eg soil type, colour scheme, growing with roses) or by garden conditions (eg dry soil, shade). The website also features some excellent growing advice.
Garden Beauty are a great place to buy shrubs online, especially hebes, which they specialise in. They grow all of their own plants in their nursery in Southampton and everything is 100 per cent peat-free.
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.
Best places to buy houseplants online
With the explosion in popularity of houseplants in recent years, there has also been a deluge of new houseplant sellers popping up online. It can be hard to work out who the reputable sellers are and if they're actually selling that rare houseplant you've been looking for or just a sneaky look-alike. Here we have rounded up some of the best online houseplant shops to make things easier.
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.
Harriet's Plants is one of the best places to buy houseplants online. Founded by Harriet Thompson, the ethos of the business is around supplying peat-free, pesticide-free plants to minimise the impact of horticulture on the environment.
The Glasshouse has a great range of houseplants from small up to extra large varieties. When you shop from them you are also supporting a social enterprise that helps ex-offenders grow and nurture plants and gain horticultural training. The project is based in East Sutton Park prison for women in Kent.
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.
Matt Breen is a digital writer for the tech section of RadioTimes.com. He writes buying guides, product reviews, how-to, explainers and news stories about everything from flagship smartwatches to bendable televisions (no, really). He keeps a beady eye on all the latest news in the consumer tech world. Matt has also written for Expert Reviews, BikeRadar, Coach, Gardens Illustrated, Gathered.how and The Week. When he's not obsessing over the latest tech products, you might just find him painting and drawing - anything to limit his screen time.
Special Christmas offer- Save over 50% when you subscribe
Special subscription offer:
- Save 51%- £34.99 every 13 issues by Direct Debit
- The perfect Christmas gift for friends, family or to keep for yourself!
- Never miss an issue of your favourite magazine
- Free UK delivery- direct to your door *Available to UK residents only