One of the most common questions I see online about house plants is “Where can I buy a _____?” Fill in the blank with the name of any trendy plant and you’ll see thousands of requests. Whether you’re looking for a Pilea Pepperomioides, Alocasia Polly or anything in between, there are a few places I always look when I’m ready to make these types of purchases.
Below you’ll find a list of places I turn to when I get the urge to buy another plant. Some of these are online sources that can be delivered straight to your door while others take a bit more hard work to search out. But before we get started, a few words to the wise:
When Buying Online: Reviews Are King
In the online world we live in, it shouldn’t surprise you to find out that tons of people are buying plants online. But if this seems like a foreign world to you, there is something you should know: when buying anything online, reviews are king.
Always, always, always read reviews for products, sellers and sites before purchasing. If you cannot find a review for exactly what you want, proceed with caution. Sometimes it’s worth the risk, but sometimes the risk outweighs the reward.
Reading reviews is easy for specific products, or even sellers and shops on platforms like Etsy and Amazon. But what do you do when you find a site you’ve never heard of with seemingly beautiful plants? Go to google and type in the name of that site with the word “review” afterward and see what you can find that way. Often times blogs or other sites will review online businesses and you can read what they have to say before ordering from a company you’ve never heard of.
When Buying In Person: Know What to Look For
When buying plants in person, there are a few things that are always good to be on the lookout for. Check the overall quality and color of the leaves to assess the health of the plant. Yellow or brown leaves will have to be trimmed back, so be sure that if there are a few unhealthy leaves, it won’t affect the whole plant.
Overwatering is the number one killer of houseplants and if it is done for too long, it will rot the root system of the plant. If lots of leaves are yellow and the whole plant is droopy, it might be worth trying to catch a peek at the roots to see if they are healthy and white instead of brown, gray or mushy.
I also like to check for new growth. If you’re buying a plant in person in the spring or summer there should be some visual evidence that the plant is putting out new growth in the form of leaves or stems. Healthy plants are growing plants. If the plant isn’t growing, this may be a sign of an issue under the soil.
If a plant doesn’t look 100% healthy, that doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t purchase it – but I don’t want to pay too much. Lots of shops like Lowes & Home Depot have discounted unhealthy plants in a section on their own. I often buy plants off that rack. With a little TLC I can usually nurse them back to healthy.
Where to Buy Live Plants
I love houseplants, and honestly, I’ll buy them anywhere I can find them. But there are a few places that I’ve had better success with than others. Below is a list of my favorite spots to buy plants. I’ve given you my thoughts as well as pros and cons for each option.
The first place I look for unique and trendy house plants is usually Etsy. Etsy is full of sellers who have cuttings, pups, and full-grown plants in as many varieties as you can possibly imagine, including some very rare finds.
Etsy is a marketplace for individual shops. That means when you make a purchase on Etsy, you are buying from an individual, not from Etsy itself. There are no Etsy warehouses. Each item is created, curated, and shipped by shop owners around the globe. Etsy is the common site that brings them all together.
For this reason, you’ll need to check the reviews of the “shop” you want to purchase from. If a plant shop has lots of good reviews from happy customers, I say go for it! I’ve bought some beauties on Etsy and have been really happy with most of my purchases. Specifically, I’ve had a great experience with the American Plants shop.
PROS FOR ETSY
Tons of Options: Nearly any houseplant that you are looking for can be found at any time on Etsy, especially if you are willing to take a cutting. There are so many sellers on the platform that it is rare to find a plant out of stock.
Rare Finds: There are plants on Etsy that I could only dream of seeing in person, and if you’re willing to pay for them, they can be yours! When you’re in the market for a very specific plant, Etsy is almost always your best option.
CONS FOR ETSY
Shipping Issues: Shipping a plant through the mail is a bit of a risk. Sometimes plants get dried out, sometimes they’re overly wet from the way they are packaged, and sometimes they just get handled too roughly by the postman. If your seller packages their plants exceptionally, this won’t be a problem. If they don’t, it can be a bit uncertain.
Price: I’ve seen plants on Etsy for very reasonable prices. But I’ve also seen them extremely high. Especially when it comes to rarer finds (think variegated Monstera Deliciosa) the prices are astronomical. If you can find a small local seller who has what you want in your hometown, you can usually get the item for cheaper from them.
Poor Quality from Some Sellers: Buying a plant online without first seeing it can be risky – especially when you’re buying it from an individual seller on a platform like Etsy. Even after reading tons of reviews, I sometimes still get a less-than-amazing plant. WIth platforms like Etsy, you don’t always know what you’re going to get. That is why sometimes, I turn to the big dogs for more consistent plants.
The Sill is probably the most well-known site for ordering live houseplants online, and it is worth the hype. Their process is extremely easy to use and the plants rarely disappoint. The Sill sets a very high bar for online plants.
Their site is also full of helpful information for plant lovers. They host workshops every month, which you can join in for just a few bucks, and they even have monthly subscription boxes. They also have some very convincing faux plants for those of you who love the look of green in your home, but hate the responsibility houseplants bring.
PROS FOR THE SILL
Great Customer Service: This is something that sites like Etsy or plant swaps and Facebook groups are lacking. With those sites, you get what you get and you literally cannot throw a fit because there is no one there to listen to you. At The Sill, you can get in contact with an actual human if you have an issue.
Consistent Plants: The Sill gives you what you expect every time. They have a high quality control for their plants so you know that when you order a plant from them it is going to look like the photo on the site.
Lots of Ways to Get Involved: From online workshops to their members only newsletter, the Sill is doing everything it can to keep their customers involved in the houseplant world. If you’re looking for a community instead of just a shop, The Sill is an excellent place to start.
Customizable Sizes and Options: When making a plant selection, The Sill gives you options. You can often choose what size plant you want to purchase as well as the pot it comes in. The price varies with the combo you choose, which gives you the ability to pay as much or as little as you would like.
CONS FOR THE SILL
Smaller Selection: While The Sill does usually carry some of our favorite plants (think Monsteras and ZZs) they do not offer the variety of plants you would find with Etsy or local garden shops.
Higher Prices: I’m a firm believer that you get what you pay for, and when it comes to consistently beautiful and healthy plants from The Sill, you’re going to have to pay a bit more for them. Plants come planted in beautiful planters (unless you select the nursery pot option) so that is included in the cost.
Local Specialty Shops
I live in a relatively small town. Luckily, there are three larger cities that I can reach in about a 20-30 minute drive. In my town there are no specialty plant shops, but it turns out that I can drive to two in less than half an hour from my house.
These shops are generally not the kind of place that everyone knows about, so if you haven’t ever heard or one in your town, don’t give up yet. Ask around to friends and family members to see what they know. Oftentimes you’re just one question away from a really great, local find.
PROS FOR LOCAL SPECIALTY SHOPS
See What You’re Getting: There is a lot to be said for picking out your own plant in person. Whenever I can, I opt to go to a store rather than buying online. That way, when I get back to my house with my new plant there are no surprises about size or quality.
A Wealth of Knowledge: I’ve found that some of the saviest houseplant owners I’ve ever met work at, or at least hang around these types of shops. If you find a plant baby you want to bring home, but you have no idea how to care for it, just ask! The shop owners at these small locations have a ton of information on them.
Find Rare Plants: If you’ve got your eye on something special (like a Ruby Ficus Elastica) and you haven’t been able to find one yet, reach out to your local plant shops. While the shop may not have exactly what you’re looking for, they often have contacts or suppliers who can hook you up.
CONS FOR LOCAL SPECIALTY SHOPS
Distance: To find a specialty shop that keeps a lot of trendy houseplants, you may need to take a drive. My favorite shop takes me a half-hour to drive to, but it’s always worth the trip. You may need to drive an hour or even more to find a shop like this, but I say grab your best houseplant friend and make a day of it!
While I love shopping small and local, sometimes the best place to find a houseplant is at the big chain store. I’ve found some really great plants in these big shops (like a Raven ZZ at Walmart and a Begonia Rex at Publix). And while we don’t often think of large chains selling more specialized selection of houseplants, you should always keep an eye out when you stop by.
Sometimes I find these for a steal of a deal, but I’ve also seen them way overpriced. If you’re going to buy at a big box store it would serve you well to do a quick google search before purchasing to make sure the price is right.
PROS FOR CHAIN STORES
Easy Access: A lot of us live in areas where these stores are on every corner. It can be very easy for us just to swing by after work and check the plant section for a gem. Plus, most of us are already visiting these stores for other necessities so it takes very little extra time to stop by.
CONS FOR CHAIN STORES
Poor Quality: Big box stores like Walmart, Target or even Home Depot and Lowes do not usually have staff that are properly trained to care for specialty houseplants. For that reason, these plants are sometimes in poor shape when I bring them home. But usually they can be perked back up with a little bit of TLC.
While I never would have thought a few years back that we would be buying plants on Amazon, here we are, and honestly I am not upset about it. When searching for specific houseplants, Amazon is often one of Google’s top search results.
There are lots of individual sellers on Amazon and when ordering from them I would always check the reviews first. Costa Farms is a large seller both on Amazon and in stores. I’ve had good experiences with them and I trust their plants (like this Fiddle Leaf Fig). But I always check reviews when it comes from a brand I don’t know.
PROS FOR AMAZON
Quick & Free Delivery with Prime: I hate to pay for shipping. Even though I completely understand that things cost money to be mailed, it’s always a bummer to get to your cart and realize that your plant is going to cost $10-$20 more than you expected because of shipping fees. If you already have Amazon Prime, buying plants from Amazon is a great way around that.Cons:
CONS FOR AMAZON
Inconsistency Among Sellers: Amazon is made up of tons and tons of independent third party sellers who use the platform to reach Amazon’s customer base. Unfortunately, these sellers are not always held to high standards and the products can be disappointing. Always always always check the reviews for the product and the seller before buying a house plant on Amazon.
Ask Your Houseplant Friends for Cuttings
If your friends are anything like me, they love propagating their plants, and you can really only propagate for so long before you start running out of shelf space for your plant babies.
Asking a friend who has a houseplant if you can take a few clippings can be a little nerve wracking, especially if you aren’t extremely close. But in my experience, people are excited to share a bit of their plant with others. Just don’t go crazy. It’s always best to be respectful and take small clippings.
PROS FOR CUTTINGS
It’s Free: A good friend will almost always let you take a small cutting from their mature plant at no charge. Oftentimes, plants need to be pruned back anyway, so giving the cuttings away, instead of tossing them in the trash is no skin off their nose.
It’s Fun: I love sharing clippings with other people because I like to see the cuttings in their homes and know that we are linked together through the same plant. Taking cuttings is a really fun way of expanding your houseplant collection.
CONS FOR CUTTINGS
Not Available: The only real con I can see here is that you may not have the plant you want available to you. Some people have friends who share their passion for houseplants, but the odds that you’re the only one in your friend group who is obsessing over foliage is probably pretty high. If you don’t have any houseplant friends, maybe you could start hanging around your local nursery and make some new ones!
Facebook Groups & Plant Swaps
If you are not lucky enough to have a few friends who will share a cutting with you, I have good news: The internet is full of them. In today’s connected age, there are giant communities of people online who love houseplants and are happy to share them with others.
There are groups all over facebook of people who like to talk about plants, show off their collection, and share their clippings. Search your facebook group tab for house plant groups.
There are also plant swaps that take place in person around the globe. If you’re interested in an in person meetup, check your local newspaper as well as sites like meetup.com to find groups in your area. I also monitor social media for #plantswap to see what I can find.
PROS FOR GROUP AND SWAPS
Make Friends: Houseplants + people who love houseplants = a win win situation. Not only can you score a clippings, but you can also share yours with others and make friends while doing it.
CONS FOR GROUP AND SWAPS
Overpopulation: Some of the Facebook groups I’m a part of have such active members that posts about sharing clippings are bombarded with requests. In a first come first serve situation, you have to be in the right place at the right time to get a clipping or a plant you really want.
Keep A Lookout in Unexpected Places
There is a grocery store near my home that I have found more unique houseplants than I have at all my local big box garden shops combined. I’ve found large Monsteras, Philodendrons, ZZ Plants, Money Trees, Dracaena Palms and more, all in the small floral section of this grocery store. I cannot explain why this specific store stocks all of these beautiful plants, but I can still enjoy the spoils.
I say that to say, keep your eyes open everywhere you go. I’ve founded some beautiful houseplants in very unexpected places. Whether it’s a big box store or a small local business or chain, it’s worth checking their garden or floral section every time you visit.
There are pros and cons for buying plants in tons of different places. The route you choose will probably depend on the plant you want to purchase and the area of the world you live in. I hope this has been helpful in getting you started down the right path. Good luck! And happy shopping!