Buying plants Gardening

This Is What a Plant Order Looks Like

I’ve been ordering plants by mail for almost nearly 60 years. I started ordering seeds from my father’s seed catalogs at about 10 years old, then later bulbs. There was a huge houseplant craze in the 1970s and I ordered all sorts of them at the time. You used to be able to order cuttings at quite a saving! And perennials, shrubs and trees for my outdoor garden—hundreds some years!,—and tools too: that has never been a problem. My father even used to order fruit trees by mail.

So, for me, ordering plants by mail is nothing new: it’s just business as usual.

Can You Really Order Plants by Mail?

Yet, I know that for many gardeners, it seems crazy to order anything alive by mail. Well, maybe seeds and bulbs, as they’re safely in a dormant state, but a plant in full growth? Especially one in bloom? Surely that isn’t possible?

But, of course, it is. People do it all the time. And have ever stamps were invented!

As proof, I’ll share the delivery I received today. It’s just so amazingly simple!

Back Story

Cork bark green wall in bathroom.
Time to add a bit of color to my green wall with a few blooming epiphytes.

I was looking for some small blooming epiphytes—orchids, anthuriums, bromeliads, etc.—for my cork bark green wall. True, they might have been just such plants available in a local garden center, but I’m a shut-in now and can’t get to local stores. So, I did a Google search found a site that had what I wanted: Tropi Co, in Beamsville, Ontario. This was a new site for me, but looked serious. And it was in Canada, where I live*. And it “shipped Canada-wide.”

*I wouldn’t recommend ordering plants from a foreign country. At least, not on your first try. Some nurseries do ship internationally, but that requires special paperwork, inspections, permits, etc. Start easy: order within your country or, if you live in Europe, within the European Economic Community.

So, I filled in Tropi Co’s order form, added the plants I wanted, punched in my payment card number and clicked. I instantly received a positive response. (Your order will be looked at the nearest possible opportunity or something similar.)

That was a Tuesday evening. Wednesday morning, I received a message that my order would be sent out “early next week.” I expected nothing less, as, with plants, you don’t want them sitting in storage over the weekend. Usually, plants are shipped early in the week to avoid that.

I was eating lunch the following Monday when a “ping” on the phone caught my attention. It was a message my package was under way. Information was supplied on how to trace it. And it arrived Wednesday. So, a bit over a week all told. That was actually faster than I expected.

Christmas in July???

The box showed up at my door midmorning Wednesday, right side up (always a good start!)

This is always the exciting part. It was like Christmas in July!

Notice on how to care for mail order plant.
A notice explained how to care for the plant once you had it in your home.

Inside the box, there was a notice that told me the steps to follow … in the form of a note apparently addressed to me from one of the plants! You can see above how it read.

Unpacking a freshly received plant sent by mail order.
Each plant was individually wrapped in two layers of paper.

I carefully opened the box, taking each plant out one by one. They were wrapped tightly in two layers of recyclable paper and very carefully packed.

Coco disk that holds potting soil in place for shipping.
A coco fiber disk kept the soil from coming loose during transit.

A coco fiber disk even held the potting mix in place, so not even a piece of soil had come loose.

Two orchids wrapped for shipping.
The orchids especially had really sophisticated multi-stage packaging: nothing was going to shake them free!

One flower (of about a dozen) had fallen off one of the mini-phalaenopsis. That was the only damage.

Open in minutes

Obviously, I had the plants out and lightly watered, as recommended, in minutes, then in bright light but not full sun. How could I have resisted!

And they were just gorgeous.

Houseplants recently received by mail order.
Such beautiful plants…. and I didn’t even have to leave my home to get them.

Both mini-phalaenopsis had two flower stalks with both a few open flowers and plenty of buds, the anthuriums had multiple flowers (and multiple stems: I may do a bit of dividing!) The bromeliad, a Guzmania lingulata hybrid, was in full bloom. There was also a very healthy variegated English Ivy (Hedera helix).

In the box there were also individual home care cards for some of the plants. Plus a card congratulating me on being the World’s Best Plant Parent! (Thanks, I say blushing, but I already knew that!) And a receipt.

Beyond Normal

Now I had to put the poor plants through the wringer!

A few touches of color from flowering plants. Just what my green wall needed!

Yes, I had ordered them to put on my green wall. So that meant I had to tear them out of their pots, strip off their soil, trim their roots, wrap them in a bit of sphagnum moss and fix them to the wall so they could root in.

It’s a jungle out there… except it’s not a jungle, it’s my bathroom wall!

Such a shock… but my experience is that they should come through the trauma just fine. After all, the humid, junglelike atmosphere of the green wall is very soothing to plants.

But, of course, that’s not something you have to do. You can just continue growing your newly received houseplants in their original pot and enjoying their long-lasting blooms.

Back to Normal

So, that’s what you get when you order plants by mail. Beautiful plants, quickly, and without hassle! I’ll be smiling for months!

Try it yourself. When living plants arrive at your doorstep, it’s just such a pleasure, you’ll want to do it again and again!


Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

7 comments on “This Is What a Plant Order Looks Like

  1. Milans Goever

    Hey everyone!

    I just had to share my excitement about ordering plants by mail. I’ve been doing it for nearly 5 years, starting with seeds and bulbs from my father’s seed catalogs. I’ve ordered all sorts of plants over the years, from houseplants to perennials, shrubs, and even fruit trees. It’s become a regular part of my gardening routine.

    I know some people may find it crazy to order living plants by mail, especially ones in full growth and bloom, but it’s totally possible! And let me inform you, it’s such a simple and handy process.

    Now I have these stunning plants beautifying my home, and I did not even have to leave my house to get them. It’s like Christmas in July! I’m so thrilled with the quality and convenience of ordering plants by mail. It’s a delightful experience that brings joy to any plant lover. Happy gardening!

  2. I love your green (and red and pink) wall!!

  3. Love this! Your bathroom wall is fantastic. I’m going to check out that company as it’s not far from me. All the best!

  4. Christina Marchant

    Larry, I love your blog posts. Any topic – doesn’t matter. Your voice and passion and knowledge are contagious!

  5. Bob Watson

    I have never seen an article on this topic. As a long-time gardener and mail ordering fool, I salute your creativity! Thanks for sharing your shipment with us. Your ‘living’ wall is gorgeous! All the best to you!

    • I buy plants on line and you can still get cuttings that way.
      As examples i got some wonderful Angel Wing begonia cuttings as well as live plants from Etsy (all raised without chemicals,) live food plants from seed companies and a lovely Lady Palm from Lively Root. Ebay and Amazon have them, too. Just make sure you research your source and can get a refund if there’s a problem.

  6. Clara Bauman

    So amazing and beautiful!!!

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