Ordering Houseplants Online: A Guide on Bringing the Outside In

how to buy houseplants online

Buying houseplants online may seem like an unconventional method to bring a bit of the outside in. But plants traveling in boxes or sleeves actually isn’t that uncommon, as the majority of US nurseries and garden centers have been practicing plant transport for decades. Ordering online may be a modern approach for the plant industry, but it’s actually easier than ever and helps ensure that you’re getting the best plant, in an environmentally friendly way. Let us explain exactly why it’s eco-friendly and outline how to go about shopping online for live, indoor plants.

Why shop online for live houseplants?

plants at home

Ordering online allows for ease of the shopping experience as you can buy plants from the comfort of your own home never needing to leave, never needing to wonder if the plant you’re picking out is the best of the bunch. Taking hassle out of the equation, buying plants online makes the process simple and seamless. 

It also helps you (as the buyer and eventual caretaker) figure out more information about your future plant. Like does it prefer bright light? Is it dog friendly? Or how much water does it need? For instance, let’s say you go in blindly to shop for a plant-- you come out with a beautiful fiddle leaf fig and just place it in what seems to be the prettiest spot at home. Unless you’ve done a little research, you may not know that it’s not going to grow (or survive) in a lowly lit corner. Answering questions before you choose a plant helps you make the right choice and mentally prep for a new plant.  

It’s also more eco-friendly than sourcing your own plants.

How is buying plants online more eco-friendly?

silver satin pothos

Well, you have to be careful who you’re buying from and do a little researchbut in most cases, purchasing plants over the internet means you’re buying more directly from the original source. We love local nurseries, and feel they should always be supported! However, when you buy from a big box store, you may feel like you’re getting the best price. But at what cost? To shed a little light, the vast majority of giant (household name-brand) stores source their plants from Florida or California. So depending on where you live, that likely means the plants traveled quite a long way to get there. In addition, these superstores often buy from mega-nurseries that are able to produce bulk amounts (with less attention to quality) which drive the costs down-- so you’re essentially getting quantity over quality. Then adding on the miles that you personally travel to and from stores, also creates extra emissions. Beyond that, a lot of overhead cost goes into growing, maintaining, and procuring plants. There are farm workers and families, and weighing quantity or quality against each other comes into play for many nurseries. Supporting small means you’re supporting so much more.

When you order online, you’re usually getting a plant straight from the grower or a dealer who hand picks the plant for you. At Outside In, we source each and every plant from the top nurseries in south Florida (who also use utmost practices and operate in an eco-friendly manner). As experts, we hand pick the best from the best. That takes out the guessing or questions on your end. Once ordered, it’s shipped and conveniently delivered right to your doorstep.

How is Outside In uniquely eco-friendly and a different plant shop? 

outside in plants

We source locally. We don’t use plastic packaging (it’s all biodegradable). We also offset carbon emissions produced from each shipment. We do this by donating a specifically calculated monetary portion of each shipment to neutralize, and hopefully negate our footprint. 

Here at Outside In, we actually do not sell plants smaller than 6” (and the nurseries we work with also do not recommend or sell anything smaller). This size ensures that the plant is well established and has the best rate of survival once transferred to new hands.

How do I shop for plants online?

Shopping for houseplants via the internet is easier than ever. 

  1. Choose a store.

This first step will likely be based on location (country, region, or even city) as there are some agricultural restrictions with shipping plants. For example, here at Outside In, we ship only within the contiguous United States.

Shop around a little online, do your research, figure out which company best resonates with you and your values. Consider customer service, quality (over quantity), price, the company’s mission, etc. Weigh your options, then...

2. Choose a plant.

There are some factors to think about when choosing a new plant. Consider how much care it will require, and whether it’s compatible with your home (can you provide an accurate amount of light, is the plant considered toxic to your pets, etc.).

We recommend buying 4” or larger plants to ensure it has established healthy roots to survive travel and acclimating to a new environment. 

potted houseplant

3. Figure out if you need or want a decorative pot. 

Ordering a plant online means that it will either be delivered in the nursery growers plastic pot unless you specifically choose otherwise. Some online retailers don’t offer pots at all, so that’s also something to consider when choosing an online store. 

At Outside In, we’ve scoured our options for the best plant accessories and have taken a lot of that work out for you. Specifically, for our pots, the factors we considered included quality, price, and size. All of our current pots conveniently fit a 6” plant that way you can simply slide your new plant (still in the nursery grower pot) into the decorative pot. This is useful for many reasons, but most importantly, it helps with ease of care and proper watering (since the nursery pot has ample drainage and the plant can easily be transported to a sink for water). However, if you wish to repot, that’s always an option, but you may want to consider picking a pot with a drainage hole.

4. Think about where the plant is going to live in your home

Where are you going to put the plant? Consider how much sunlight it’s going to need (typically northern facing windows get the least amount of sun while southern gets the most). When it first arrives, try not to implement any big changesso no propagating, fertilizing, repotting (for the first 2 weeks).

When it comes to delivery, most online plant shops offer 2-5 day shipping. Plants can certainly survive and thrive after being in transit— afterall, unless you’re in a tropical or subtropical climate, the plants at your local nursery (or box store) likely traveled a long way in the back of a semi-truck just to get there. Of course depending on the type of plant, some will be more sensitive while others will favor better with varying time in transit.

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