Downloading the Garden

Master gardener Paul James explains the benefits of shopping online.
Related To:
Purple Spring Flower

Purple Spring Flower

Online shopping is a great way to find just the right spring-flowering bulbs for your garden.

Online shopping is a great way to find just the right spring-flowering bulbs for your garden.

The internet has opened up a whole new world for gardeners. With just a few clicks, you can plan something as simple as how to plant a tree, to something as esoteric as how many months the seeds of most maple trees must be stored at 40 degrees F to ensure proper germination (three months).

"But the internet offers gardeners much more than mere information. It's also a dynamite source of cool products, which is why it's one of my favorite places to shop," says master gardener Paul James. "In fact, websites often features products long before they reach retail shelves and plants that you simply won't find at most conventional retail outlets, whether nurseries or home and garden centers. As a result, I figure that as many as 30 percent of the plants in my landscape came from internet sites. Most are evergreens, because that happens to be one of my favorite plant groups and because local retailers simply don't stock enough choices of choice evergreens." The same is true of spring-flowering bulbs and heirloom vegetable seeds because there are so many more choices available.

The Best Heirloom Veggies

See All Photos

Shop This Look

In many cases, the internet companies are catalog companies as well. It's sometimes nice to view a printed catalog before placing an order. "While some sites may offer beautiful pictures and lengthy detailed plant descriptions, others, especially those that deal in rare and unusual or hard to find plants, may offer only a brief description and no pretty pictures at all. So you want to make sure you do your homework on any pretty plants you plan on buying from them."

Another great thing about websites is that many of them offer fairly large plants, unlike most catalog companies, which rarely ship anything larger than say, a 4-inch to one-gallon pot. "However, realize that large plants — unless shipped bare-root — can cost you a small fortune," he says. "In fact, the shipping costs can exceed the cost of the plant itself. Still, it may be worth it if it's the only way to acquire a prized plant."

Keep Reading

Next Up

Gardening Q & A: Summer Snowflake Plant and More

Master gardener Paul James talks about pruning candles, cool plants, and no-hassle manure tea.

Accessible Gardening Techniques

No matter what life throws at you, get back into the garden with these tricks and tools for elderly or disabled gardeners.

Calling All Gardeners

An extension agent declares the "rights and responsbilities" of his fellow gardeners.

Glossary of Gardening Terms

Whether you're just starting out or need a refresher, brush up on essential gardening terms with this easy glossary.

Extending the Gardening Season

Use these methods to stretch extra days and weeks out of your growing season.

What Is Coral Gardening?

Gardens aren't just for backyards. Learn how the rising practice of underwater gardening helps to address coral reef depletion.

Dispelling Common Gardening Myths

Unravel a few homespun green-thumb myths with the help of some expert gardeners.

Beneficial Reptiles in the Garden

Find out how to encourage and work with these garden helpmates.

Ideas for Low-Cost Gardening

Add green to your landscape while keeping some in your wallet. Check out our best money-saving tips to help your garden and your budget thrive.

How to Garden in Just 15 Minutes a Day

No time to garden? Learn 10 easy tricks to multiply minutes in the garden.

1,000+ Photos

Browse beautiful photos of our favorite outdoor spaces: decks, patios, porches and more.

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.