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Ok kids, cards on the table: I currently do NOT have the money to drop a casual £2000 on a plant. In fact, the most expensive plant currently in my collection is my Monstera Deliciosa Thai Constellation, and I didn’t even buy it.
It was a gift from my boyfriend, and it cost him £89.99.
I also live in the middle of nowhere in the UK. My area isn’t exactly known for its vast house plant selection.
What I’m trying to say is this: I don’t exactly have the greatest access to a lot of different house plants. So if I can accumulate a great collection of house plants SO CAN YOU.
If you’re good when it comes to acquiring house plants, but not exactly great at keeping them alive, check out my post on, er, 101 tips for keeping house plants alive.
In the post below I will detail exactly how I go about getting hold of the plants that I want, and I’ll end with a little wishlist of plants that I’m desperate for, but am yet to get.
So here goes:
To be perfectly candid (Brooklyn 99 fans go wild), I don’t buy many plants online. In fact, I’ve only ever bought one – a golden pothos cutting from a lovely lady on Etsy who sent a handwritten note.
It’s not that the internet isn’t a great place to buy plants – it is – it’s just that I don’t really trust our mail carriers to get my plant to me in one piece. My boyfriend used to work for a courier company and he’s made me very suspicious.
Also, I LOVE to go plant shopping. There’s no greater feeling in the world than finding a wishlist plant sitting in the garden centre, waiting for you. It’s the BEST.
There are many places to buy plants online, and none of them is any better or worse than the other. You will probably find the internet the best way to source specific rare plants though.
- Plant shops
There are a plethora of online plant shops nowadays, and they’re a great option for buying full plants online. You can also source really nice pots and other decor items from them.
In my experience, online plant shops aren’t the cheapest place to buy plants from, but the plants tend to be well-cared for, and pretty large, as opposed to just being a cutting. You also have more scope for returns, complaints, and general customer service gumph.
Etsy is a really good place to buy specific plants BUT beware of scams. Don’t buy variegated monstera seeds, dubious-looking cuttings, or…anything that looks a bit dodgy. Check out any returns policies before you buy and be sure to check how far your plant will be travelling and if it will be packed securely.
If you’re having a plant shipped in winter, ask the seller to put a heat pack in, especially if you’re spending a lot.
I would personally avoid having plants shipped in winter – they’ll be spending a lot of time in cold warehouses and on the back of trucks, so might not be in great shape by the time they reach you.
I have list of 20+ Etsy shops, if you fancy a bit of shopping, widow or otherwise. There’s one on there that sells obliqua, if you have a couple of grand burning a hole in your pocket.
Don’t discount Facebook, Preloved and Gumtree. They’re amazing places to buy statement plants such as Monstera Deliciosa and Aloes. Such plants can become too big, or they get left when people move, or people get sick of looking after them. If you’re lucky, you can pick up some great plants for FREE.
I’ve never bought a plant from Instagram, but I’ve heard it’s where all the cool kids get their plants from. I wouldn’t even know how to go about it. Do you wait for someone to sell plants, do you just ask someone for a plant or are there special hashtags to follow?
Ok, yes, it’s a hashtag thing. A few I’ve found are: #plantsales #plantforsale #plantsforsale.
Christ, this could be dangerous for me.
Plant shops aren’t actually that common in the Uk (or at least not around me) but I have noticed that florists are catching on to the house plant thing. Certain plants, like succulents, and maidenhair ferns are fairly common in florists. They’re also probably able to get certain plants in, should you ask them nicely.
I’ve visited a couple of plant shops, and I wish there were more. Not because the selection was fantastic, but because you can get advice from the shop assistant that is a bit more house plant-specific than in garden centres.
Support your local plant shops. It can’t be an easy business to be in.
Garden centres are where most of my plants come from.
There are two near-ish me (an hour away, in wildly different directions, of course) that are really good for house plants. One is Cowell’s garden centre in Newcastle, and the other is Dean’s garden centre in York.
Cowell’s do sell online, I’ve noticed, which is probably not good news for my bank account.
I’m lucky enough to have such good house plants available near me. Both garden centres have hundreds of varieties of plants and there’s a huge range of prices. Both sell little bambino plants for a couple of quid, up to huge calathea and monstera that go into triple figures.
House plants are beginning to be less of an afterthought to garden centres. A few of the bigger chains such as Dobbies are getting better specimens all the time, I suppose to try to increase footfall.
I have found that those garden centres that don’t specialise in house plants can have similar issues to supermarkets, so check that your plant isn’t overwatered beyond repair before you buy it.
I check the Instagram page of the garden centre before I go – the more house plants that are on it, the better cared for they seem to be. If they have a separate Instagram page for their house plants RUN THERE.
Ok, I LOVE buying plants from supermarkets, but they can be very hit and miss, quality-wise. Obviously supermarkets don’t employ house plant whisperers to keep their plants alive – they just rely on people buying them before they die.
Things to watch out for when buying plants from supermarkets:
- Bugs – check the underside of the leaves, especially where the leaf meets the petiole.
- Crispy tips & edges – supermarkets don’t tend to be very humid places, and house plans can suffer. e sure you research your plant and have the appropriate humidity levels in your home before purchasing. You may think supermarkets only stock easy-care plants, but you can often get finicky beasts like calathea and alocasia.
- Black spots – black spots can be caused by a variety of fungi and bugs, but are likely a sign that your plant is (or has been) too cold for an extended period.
- Incongruent watering – it could be over or under watering that’s the issue, but I’ve never met a supermarket plant that was happy with his watering schedule.
I don’t want to deter you from buying cheap plants from the supermarket. I’ve got some absolute bargains, but just be aware that your charges may need a bit of extra tlc when you get them home.
Ask for cuttings
This is the best way to get plants. The best. Because often it’s free.
Plants like pothos, jade plants, and pilea peperomioides are the best to go for. Don’t buy these plants if you don’t have to. Ask your friends, grandma, go to plant swaps if there are any nearby etc etc etc.
Getting your plants this way is the best method for obtaining plants in an eco-friendly way.
Collecting house plants isn’t the best when it comes to sustainable hobbies (read all about the environmental concerns surrounding house plants here), but there are things we can do to reduce our carbon footprint.
Collecting cuttings from plants is a great way to get more plants without having to ship them.
How good each of these stores are for house plants varies massively. My local B&Q isn’t the best – it has a few Calathea and Monstera but not much else. However, it’s FAR better than the two nearest Ikeas, which are CRAP. I can get palms and peace lilies and that’s about it.
If you fancy getting a palm from Ikea, check it scrupulously for scale. Their yuccas are good if you want a statement plant but separate them (you usually get a big and a little one) because the little one will steal all the nutrients and the big one will die.
Tips for buying house plants
- Check the roots in you can (don’t make a mess) – we want firm white (usually) roots, not mushy and brown.
- Check for pests, just in case. Keep it in isolation for a week or two just in case
- Chop of any leaves that look damaged beyond repair. Often it’s just transport damage, but keep an eye on it.
- Keep your plant warm between the shop and home. Good shops will wrap it for you, but it’s not a bad idea to keep a big plastic bag in the car for a makeshift greenhouse
- If it looks like it’s dying for no good reason, put it back. Yes, I know it’s hard.
- If it looks like it dying but you think you know why, and can save it, good luck.
- If you see orchids on sale, check the back of the flower for mealybugs. Seriously, they all seem to have them.
I hope this was helpful, happy plant purchasing!