Ordering Houseplants Online: Risky or Rewarding?
Read about my personal experience of buying houseplants online.
Houseplants add so much to a home. They have the ability to filter the air, they are aesthetically pleasing and can sit regally on a shelf or hang from the ceiling. They illicit peace and calm, in my humble opinion. There are many varieties, accommodating all lighting and spacial situations. You can find bushy plants, trailing vines or literal miniature trees. The possibilities are vast!
But, starting or expanding a houseplant collection is not easy for everyone. Those living in rural areas may be limited on availability of greenhouses or nurseries. Further, you are limited regionally with what types of plants typically grow best in your area, and will struggle to find tropical varieties that are capable of thriving in non-tropic environments, for example. Time of year will further be a deciding factor on buying plants in general.
Cue the solution to all our woes..the internet! I dove in, searching for whether buying plants online was even a good idea and what options existed if so. I was pleasantly surprised to find many shopping options, with each place having common and unique houseplant varieties.
After what I deemed thorough research and time, I bought three plants online to start my indoor houseplant collection. Here is the shop I ordered from on Etsy:
Further, they have their own website as well:
H&R Farms had the best prices, in my opinion. They clearly take cautious and superb care of their plants. They are extremely knowledgeable in what each plant needs to thrive. Each of their listings shared tons of information about the plant itself, helping you to determine if you can accommodate it in your home or office.
I chose three plants, which I discuss in further detail below. Once I got the box, I excitedly opened it, curious whether the plants survived their journey. All plants looked stunning..in the midst of winter! I ordered mine with a heat pack, which they highly recommend. Each plant was wrapped delicately and carefully. They all appeared so healthy (and remain healthy to this day, nearly three weeks later). Each plant was also provided with detailed instructions on what care they need, from the soil, to lighting, to fertilizer and watering.
I am sharing photos of the plants I received from H&R Farms, below. I failed to take pictures straight out of the package, but what photos I do share were taken on the same day I got them.
Moira the Peperomia plant
I have literally named my plants because I am a total nerd. My silly reason for doing that actually stems from the show Schitt's Creek, an absolute favorite of mine. If you know that show, "best wishes, warmest regards" :)
In the show, a character named Moira has a massive collection of wigs, and names every single one. They are precious to her, and each have their own personality. So literally, that is why I decided to name my plants!
To honor that, I chose to name this one Moira:
She is a Golden Peperomia plant (a.k.a., baby rubber plant), and is somewhat picky about her soil..so, once again, suiting for the character she is named after. I used an orchid soil mix, which ensures great drainage. Watering has not been challenging, I have just waited for the soil to dry out completely and watered evenly as needed. These type of plants are happiest in medium, to bright indirect sunlight. I have a North facing skylight which she seems to be quite happy sunning in.
Also, to my knowledge, this plant is safe around cats. Those little furry, curious beasts will straight up wreck your plants if you aren't careful. So even if a plant is not considered toxic, they can still get sick if too much is ingested. Best to keep them out of reach of their cute little paws either way.
Q the Chinese Evergreen
Quentin Coldwater ("Q" for short) is a character in another show I love, The Magicians. Is this plant not absolutely stunning?! Literally, this is just a couple hours after getting it in the mail! I was shocked at how big it looked once I got it potted.
The Chinese Evergreen (a.k.a., Aglaonema) should be a staple houseplant for everyone. They are quite striking and are not fussy. They do not require much lighting, especially do not need any bright or direct light. They do fine in semi-shade. They need some peat based soil, preferably with perlite, which ensures better drainage.
I have read that they function best with humidity, which I don't have much experience with. I have a water bottle and used it to spray Q every 3-4 days; however, I managed to over saturate him. I freaked out, because his leaves began to yellow, which can be indicative for being over watered. I carefully removed him from the pot, and sure enough, the soil was way too wet. I mixed in dry soil and completely removed much of the wet soil, then re-potted. So far, that has been my only snafu- and he recovered fine.
Chinese Evergreens are toxic to cats.
El the Spider plant
Eliot Waugh, "El" for short, is another character from The Magicians. This character dabbles often with partaking in guilty pleasures such as wine, champagne, mixed drinks and hallucinogens. Hilariously, the Spider plant is considered a hallucinogen for cats! So, this was genuinely fitting to name this plant.
Quick, funny side story: As I said, above, cats and plants do not always mix. Well, I had to learn that the hard way. A friend had given me a baby from her Spider plant and I was trying to propagate it. When it finally had roots, I got it moved over to a pot. One day I was cleaning, and saw my cat on the counter but thought she was just trying to jump up into the window. Turns out, she was demolishing my Spider plant!! I was devastated upon finding that..and confused as to why my cat was suddenly so hyper and psychotic. Hindsight..she got high AF! So..now I know, keep El away from my cat.
Spider plants are so unique and easy to tend. Be cautious though, if receiving in the mail. The information that H&R Farms included for me about the Spider plant was very specific, in that you must allow the plant to rest from the shock of shipment. In my excitement, I believe I potted El too quickly, because he stayed in shock for a couple days. However, he slowly began to bounce back.
They need bright, indirect light and well-drained soil. They can handle quite a bit of neglect, though you don't want them to dry out too much, or their tips will begin to yellow or brown (which can also happen in severe under-watering situations.)
The Spider plant will also create babies, which you can snip off and propagate. I love plants that make propagation so easy!
My guess would be that bad experiences do exist for some when ordering plants online. In the dead of winter, for example, is not a great time to be ordering live plants, no matter how much care and caution is taken by the grower. This method has inherent risks as well, because of the unpredictable nature of shipping anything. You just have to hope that no one goes "Ace Ventura" on your package. Allllllllrighty then!
Ultimately, I think the benefits far outweigh the risks. The reward is absolutely stunning, as I hope to have conveyed in my pictures. I am happy to have tried this route. My advice is to do diligent research on the grower, and ensure that they do everything in their power to ship the plants safely. Many shops that I came across only ship on certain days of the week, which prevents the boxes from sitting in post offices on weekends or holidays. Once you get your new friends, be sure to take gentle care of them as they will be in shock from the travel. Patience and dedication will always benefit your plants.