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If you visited your local nursery lately, you might’ve noticed a pronounced absence of plants and trees. If you think the pandemic might have something to do with it, ding-ding, you’re right. Since quarantine restrictions have kept most Americans in their homes, a green thumb has sprouted for many.
Summer Raynes Oakes, discussed the plant buying craze with Yahoo Finance back in April. She said, “the buying of plants, both indoors and out, has been increasing quite dramatically over the last number of years.”
She added that millennials are a “big driver.” Going on to say, “millennials power about a quarter of the lawn and garden and about a third of the house plants [sales]. And that is increasing [by] 50% . . . in the last three years alone.”
But as many businesses shift to online sales, so do nurseries. Fortunately, you can find a wealth of trees, plants, shrubs, and blooms of all kinds online from dedicated sources.
We’ve looked up four of the biggest online nurseries for your next green project. In researching these nurseries, we’ve taken into account: mission, offering, return policy, and, most importantly, reviews. Sooner or later you’ll consider buying a tree or plant online. And when you do, chances are it will be from one of these stores.
First on our list is a nursery that’s been in business for over fifteen years. FastGrowingTrees.com, based in Fort Mill, South Carolina, stocks over 2,000 trees, plants, and shrubs. Each item is carefully vetted, taking into account climate, location, and (as their website states) individual needs. Their business model and commitment to quality offerings have made them “the largest online nursery in the world.”
In FastGrowingTree’s vast selection, each item is paired with a wealth of information. They go all out in the narrative of each plant, but they also list essential facts, including growing zone, growth rate, and plant care.
Not sure what growing zone you’re in? No problem! Just enter your zip code at the top of their website and it’ll tell you which zone you’re in.
FastGrowingTrees.com makes buying plants online accessible through their handy ease-of-access service. Any plant ordered online is shipped within 1-2 days. That saves you time waiting in line at the store or in your car.
Each plant has a well-developed root system before they’re sold or made available. Then the tree or plant is shipped in nutrient-rich soil to ensure a healthy arrival.
What’s also notable about this online nursery is their 30-day Alive & Thrive GuaranteeTM, ensuring your purchase arrives, according to their website, “Happy & Healthy.”
FastGrowingTrees.com boasts an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). They also have a rating out 4.6 stars out of 5 on Google Customer Reviews.
My personal experience ordering from FastGrowingTrees has been very good. I’ve bought probably 10 trees from them over the last four years. Only one of the trees looked bad when it arrived. I took a picture of it and sent it to their customer service department and they shipped a new tree out right away. Shipping has always been very fast and the trees have worked out well. And yes they do seem to grow fast!
PlantingTree is a family owned company with a great story. They hand select each order and only choose the largest and best plants that will succeed in your area. Unlike most other online plant nurseries, the trees they send you are not single sticks, but rather real trees with developed root systems that are ready to plant. This makes for a much healthier tree that takes way less time to become fully established and mature.
After the right tree is picked, each is carefully packaged in a special box designed for shipping plants. The plant is then secured and shipped right to your door. All you have to do is open the box, plant it, and water. So far I’ve used PlantingTree to buy 4 maple trees for my yard. The trees arrived in great condition and still look good after several months in the ground. I really could tell the care that was taken to package the trees carefully. They weren’t just thrown in a box and shipped out. They were carefully wrapped and the root ball was covered in a water tight bag to keep them moist.
PlantingTree has very good reviews on TrustPilot. 83% of reviewers (almost 1000 people) gave them an Excellent rating.
Where FastGrowingTrees.com is the largest nursery in the world for everything, including trees, shrubs, and plants,
Based in Omaha, Nebraska, Nature Hills was founded in 2001 as a conifer and deciduous tree nursery, serving a small geographic region. But since those days, Nature Hills has evolved to meet growing demand and greener thumbs. Now they can claim to be “America’s Largest Online Plant Nursery.”
Now they offer products outside of perennials and shrubs to include plants such as rose bushes, as well as flower bulbs, seeds, and the like.
Nature Hills utilizes Plant Sentry, a software system that ensures nursery and plant providers remain in compliance with local, state, and federal regulations. This means they’ll block shipments of plant materials to or from quarantined areas in the event of disease or invasive plants. An oversight like that is pretty important these days, with invasive plants being brought in from all corners of the globe.
As it comes to their return policy, they’re less flexible when it comes to any potential returns. Under Terms & Conditions, the first sentence of the return policy is, “All sales are final.”
The Nature Hills online nursery does have a 4.8-star average rating, boasting 7,616 five-star reviews out of 9,205.
BrighterBlooms.com is also part of FastGrowingTrees.com. Where BrighterBlooms.com also offers trees, shrubs, and plants, their main focus is blooming plants.
Like FastGrowingTrees.com, BrighterBlooms ships directly from their nursey, located in Fort Mill, South Carolina.
BrighterBlooms takes the same care when packing and shipping their plants: with well-developed roots in healthy soil. They also have a similar return policy with their 30-day Happy and Healthy GuaranteeTM.
BrighterBlooms also has an A+ BBB rating. Shopping on Amazon? You can purchase through their online Amazon store, which has a 4.8-star customer rating.
Known by its iconic blue home logo, Lowe’s is one of the most recognizable lawn and garden brands. Lowe’s sells tools and supplies as well as offering advice for home, construction, and DIY projects.
But if you’ve ever meandered through the spacious nursery that sits gated on the side of these big box stores, then you’re very aware of the wide selection they offer.
But did you know that can all be found online? Including plants that you don’t usually find in the store?
Enter Lowe’s online nursery. You can find anything from fruit trees to flowers, herbs, and even the popular yet elusive fiddle-leaf fig tree. You can also order soil, fertilizer, watering cans, and garden hoses.
In terms of their tree and plant selection, Lowe’s partners with Brighter Blooms and Miracle-Gro to bring consumers a wide range of herbs and vegetables.
Delivery differs depending on your location, but you can expect to receive your plant-order in as little as a week. Or, if you’re so inclined and close to a Lowe’s location, you can order online and pick-up the purchase at your convenience. You can also choose curbside pick-up when you order online just in case you need to get out of the house for a minute.
In terms of returns and guarantees, Lowe’s has a 1-year guarantee for perennials, trees, and shrubs. If your plant arrives damaged or is dead-on-arrival, you can contact customer support within three days of delivery, and they’ll ship a replacement right to your door, at no charge.
When it comes to Lowe’s, there’s a wealth of reviews out there. It’s made it a bit difficult to track down an overall analysis of their online nursery. So before you hit that ‘purchase’ button in your digital shopping cart, check out the reviews of the plant you’re buying to see how it arrived and/or thrived for previous customers.
Whether you’re looking to brighten up your interior, add some more herbs and vegetables to your garden, provide natural shade for the backyard, or find some privacy with a line of hedges, there’s a wide selection online. Nowadays you can find just about any tree or plant you want for sale online.
Be sure to check out the reviews and information collected for each plant, tree, and shrub. What all of these online nurseries strive to do is provide enough information on whether or not your purchased plant will thrive after you receive it. Growing zones are especially important when it comes to determining the success of your plant’s growth and life.
When life gets a little chaotic, and you can’t make it to the nursery or, let’s face it, you don’t want to leave your house, turn your plant-buying attention to your smartphone or computer. There’s a wide selection waiting for you online.
Update September 2023
The Arbor Day Foundation is a non-profit that now sells trees on their website. They have lots of advice on choosing the right tree for your growing zone and yard. The Arbor Day Foundation is the world’s largest member nonprofit dedicated to planting trees. They collaborate with partners who are deeply engaged in the areas they serve to plant the right trees in the right places to have the greatest impact.