Where to Buy Vegetable Plants Online
It's perfectly acceptable to grow many veggies and herbs from transplants instead of seed, and you can even order some online.
People always ask me if I start all my vegetable plants from seed and I’ve finally become confident enough to tell them "no" and not feel ashamed.
Here’s the reality: I have a full-time indoor job that uses most of my daylight hours, I have a relatively small house without space for a growing room, and I don’t have a greenhouse (yet). So, growing everything myself from seed just isn’t reasonable. Instead, I grow some things from seed — the easy, quick things — and buy transplants for other things, including tomatoes. Ain’t no shame in it.
So, what do I grow from seed? A lot: lettuce, greens, carrots, beets, cucumbers, squash, melons, some herbs (mostly the annuals), peas and beans. All of these are easy to start outside without the need for indoor seed starting kits and, frankly, hassle.
What don’t I typically start from seed? Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, garlic, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes and perennial herbs. Instead, I use transplants — also called “starts” or just plants — that I get from various sources, including local nurseries and farmers markets, big box stores and, yes, online sources.
Ordering seeds online probably feels obvious — after all, it’s the natural evolution of seed catalogs, which have been around forever — but you may be surprised to learn that you can buy vegetable transplants online, too. Not all seed companies sell them, but some do. And while they’re much more expensive than seeds, or than plants you can buy in-person, there’s value in getting a plant that’s healthy and ready to go, dropped at your doorstep. Most companies also time the shipping of your plants based on your zip code, so they’ll arrive right at the best time for planting.
Here are a few top sources for vegetable transplants online. Note: You and I aren’t the only ones wondering about ordering plants online right now, so you may find that stock is low (or completely out) and shipping dates may be less concrete than in normal years. Just be patient: Larger growers can ramp transplants up quickly in greenhouses, and you’ll get yours in good turn.
Burpee has been around for more than a century and its name is virtually synonymous with seed. They may have the most extensive list of vegetable start options online. When browsing, choose “Plant” under “Form” in their dropdown menu, and you’ll see all the options for transplants. These are currently in my cart.
If you’ve ever bought vegetable or herb plants at a big box store like Lowe’s, Home Depot or Walmart, you’re familiar with Bonnie Plants. I always include a few Bonnie transplants in my garden. Now, we can order those same plants online. Their stock looks a bit lower than the other sellers, and they don’t currently offer a wait-list order option, but a few items are still available at the time of writing. I’ve got my eye on these favorites.
The Tasteful Garden
A smaller operation than the others, The Tasteful Garden was a leader in selling vegetable plants online, and I’ve ordered from them many times. In addition to a variety of tomatoes, peppers and herbs, they also offer starts for more specialized things like celery and asparagus. These are a couple of classics I’m considering.
Seed Savers Exchange
If you’re familiar with heirloom vegetables, you probably know about Seed Savers Exchange, a non-profit that collects, stores and shares rare and heirloom seed through the world’s largest seed exchange. It’s one of the coolest companies in gardening! Last year, I ordered their six-plant sampler packs of tomato and pepper transplants, and I promptly did it again this year. They pick the varieties for you from a shortlist, and I found it nice to be surprised. It also took the anxiety of having to choose off of me. Check out the sampler packs but also browse their site to see the diversity of seed varieties they offer. Note: They are temporarily not accepting new orders. You may search local sources for their seeds here.