Sunday, December 31, 2006

Mail Order Plants



Many people order their seeds from catalogs because they cannot find the types of seeds they need in their local area. If you are thinking of ordering your seeds from a catalog this year, then you should plan now to start getting the right ones ordered.

Step one is to order the catalogs you want. Check online for lists of gardening catalogs or ask your gardening friends. You also can look in gardening magazines for advertisements. Although there are scores of catalogs available, you should order only the ones that you think may be of interest. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, then Awesome Tropical Seeds will not do you any good. Stay away; it only will serve to give you too many choices.

Once the catalog arrives, you will need to pick out the plants. Now you probably will notice that these plants are fairly pricy. That is because they are special-order plants. You are paying for the fact that they are not in your local area and for the additional care that must be taken in shipping these plants. Still you can rest assured that the plants you order through the mail are well taken care of, so you do not need to worry about their quality as much as if you were purchasing cheap from a retailer.

When the plants arrive, you will need to take care to open them and get them started growing immediately. You should look at the amount of time the plants take to ship so that you can try to time your order with the time you will be able to plant the seeds or seedlings that you have ordered. If you end up with the plants too early, then you will need to purchase containers to put them in before you even open the box. Remember that the plants are very delicate but are protected while they are in the box. Keep them that way until you are ready to move them. This prep time should not take more than a day or so, however, as the plants are not intended to survive in the box for long.

When you are ready, remove the lid from the box carefully. A leaf or two may fall out, but the bulk of the plant should remain intact. In fact, you should find that each plant is in a separate container or hole in the box and that the plants all have labels on them. If they do not have labels, after saying mean things about the seed company, you should get a catalog and compare the pictures with your invoice. Make sure that you can tell what each plant is before getting it out. Otherwise call the customer service line for the catalog company to ask for help.

The plant most likely will have a little tag with the name. If you are getting tiny rooted plants, then you should be able to tuck the tag underneath the plant. That will work best for getting each plant out, so try to find a way to get the tag underneath the plant roots quickly. They will hold the roots and compost together while you are in the process of transferring the plants.

Next you will need to put the plant in its home, whether that is your yard or a small plant in your home. If you will be moving the plant again, be careful that you will be able to transplant it. Otherwise you should be good to go once you get the plant in its new home. Put some fertilizer or compost in with the plant and water it. Remove any dead or dying leaves now so that they do not contaminate the remainder of the plant.

Now you can sit back and enjoy. Be sure that you mark which companies sent great seeds and seedlings and which did not. You will want to know where you got the plants next year so that you can order from the same companies again and avoid the ones with less flattering plants. You will need to begin ordering new catalogs each year so that you can plan for your seeds and seedlings each winter.

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