Plants at the Front Door: (Untracked) Wild Stonecrop

flowering stonecrop

A few months ago, I purchased a Wild Stonecrop plant from a mid-atlantic seller. While the transaction went through smoothly and she shipped the plant almost immediately, I realized a week later that the plant still  hadn’t arrived. I started digging around and found that I’d given her the wrong shipping address. The plant had arrived, just not to my front door. It was outside my old apartment in Decatur, GA.

By the time I figured all of this out, the Wild Stonecrop had been languishing in a cardboard box for about ten days. The apartment’s new tenants let me into the building to pick up the little plant and I got it potted a couple hours later. It was not a happy camper.

Luckily, the seller had a tracking number for the plant, so we both knew it hadn’t gotten lost in the mail. But, she didn’t send me the tracking number so I was left a bit in the dark.  By the time I started wondering about the plant, she likely checked the shipment off her to-do list because the tracking status had said “arrived”  for several days.

Shipping Tip: Send the Tracking Number

If you notice you are shipping to an apartment number, it’s especially important to give the buyer a tracking number. Shippers like USPS and FedEX as well as apartment managers have different standards for notifying their tenant if they’ve received a package. Sometimes, a manager or delivery person will leave the package, sometimes a notification slip to pick the package up elsewhere. Sometimes, they will leave nothing at all. This happened to a friend who ordered two plants from a seller: they were shipped the same day, but his sapling “never came.” Several days after the friend contacted the seller, he deduced that the sapling had been sitting in his apartment building’s management office for almost a week.

I’m happy to say that both his wayward tree and my stonecrop are doing great right now. Shipping miscommunications like these test our patience, but they also demonstrate the resilliance of plants. Here’s a picture of the Wild Stonecrop two days after potting (left)  and five months later (right). It bounced back nicely after spending several days sitting at the wrong person’s front door.


Plants at the Front Door: Blue Star Variegated Junipers


Last week we ordered and received two Blue Star variegated junipers. They came via USPS and were sitting at the front door when I got home from work. Both junipers were carefully packed in an 11-by-13 inch flat rate Priority Mail cardboard box. (They can be ordered in bulk at the USPS store ) Each juniper was well-watered with the roots wrapped in plastic. We unpacked them, but haven’t planted them yet (a bit lazy, I know.) But, they’re doing great and seem much happier than the junipers we checked out at the big-box garden center down the road.

“Ship Better” Tip: Send information about the plant.

One item was useful was Bannister Creek‘s  printout detailing information and growing instructions for the purchased plant(s). A plant description can be just a one-page plant biography that includes information about the plant, growth rate, growing conditions, and how it was taken care of before shipping, (For example: was the plant watered? What kind of soil is it in?)  Even if it’s little more than the description you’ve provided online, it can be helpful to forgetful gardeners to recall planting conditions while serving as additional promotion for  your nursery. (Bannister Creek went above-and-beyond, even suggesting we wait a bit to plant because of our area’s hot, dry conditions.)

The plant biography also serves as a product of your great customer service. Since you won’t be able to talk to your online customers face-to-face, pack your plants with useful tips and materials for them to refer to later. This will help promote your store’s customer service, establish you as a garden expert, and encourage repeat buyers.

Featured Flora Friday: Blue Ivory Hosta

Each Friday, we focus on one plant and explain where it grows, what makes it great, and why you should check it out. We’ll also offer up a few suggestions for nurseries and gardeners centers interested in adding it to their catalog.

Blue Ivory Hosta

A sport of halcyon, this creamy-white hosta is a beautiful complement to the Ghost Fern and offers a striking contrast against a Red Lady Fern. As a medium-sized hosta, the Blue Ivory is perfect for shipping but still remains a great speciman due to its striking variegation. Eastern Iowa’s In The Country Garden and Gifts carried this hosta in 2009, but it quickly sold out. Nature Hills also sold out of the Blue Ivory this past season.

New hostas like the Blue Ivory are great for small nurseries interested in shipping plants. Not only do they require the same shipping packaging as  any medium-sized hosta, but hosta enthusiasts (like me) tend to have major difficulty finding them, especially when the trend is giant hostas like the Empress Wu.

Small (and medium) hostas can be great sellers. Check out the newest drawf, small, and medium hostas. A plant like the tiny Dragon’s Tail can be just as pricey as a Big Daddy, but easier to deliver. So, think small  and list unique hostas with great features other than their size.

Plants at the Front Door: Weber’s Blue Agave


One of the first plants we purchased from DoLeaf was the Weber’s Blue Agave. This gave has a beautiful blue hue and is a very easy grower in zones 9 and up. It’s drought-tolerant (so it’s suitable for xeriscaping) and the agave’s bloom can be attractive to bees and butterflies. The plant grows best in the Southwest, but can also work as a container plant with succulents.

Many of these plant factoids came with the shipped plants we bought a few weeks ago from Ohiotraders Botanicals. In addition to giving great information about the Agave, the plant information explained that our plants were shipped bareroot, and it gave us clear planting instructions. The packing slip also noted that the plant’s fleshy leaves may have been bumped around during shipping before assuring us that plants would be fine once planted.

The seller was absolutely right! We planted our three agaves and they’re all putting out new leaves just a few weeks after planting.

“Ship Better” Tip: Tell your buyer what to expect as they unpack their plant.

Take whatever precaution you can when shipping your plants that it will arrive safe and healthy, but it’s also OK to acknowledge that sometimes shipping mishaps happen. Every plant we’ve ordered online over the years is alive and well, but a couple didn’t look perfect right after we opened the box. Offering a money-back guarantee is one way of making your buyer’s feel comfortable, but another is establishing yourself as a serial shipper. This means being ready to answer questions about a plant’s appearance post-shipment even before those questions are asked.

Featured Flora Friday: Horsetail Reed

Each Friday, we focus on one plant and explain where it grows, what makes it great, and why you should check it out. We’ll also offer up a few suggestions for nurseries and gardeners centers interested in adding it to their catalog.

Equesetum Hyemale or “Horsetail Reed”


John Wise from Garden Wise Nursery in South Carolina carries this beautiful ornamental grass, a primitive perennial that is thought to have been eaten by dinosaurs. Found  in Japanese-inspired gardens and bog-like environments, horsetail reed is a popular specimen in many shaded residential gardens, growing somtimes alongside hosta and Solomon’s Seal.

Although beautiful and hardy, this plant can be tricky to ship due to its long shoots.  Here are a few tricks for shipping tall plants like horsetail reed:

1) Ship Small: Horsetail reed is a relatively quick grower, so ship young plants that aren’t tall enough to need a special-sized box.

2) Get a special-size box: Check out USPS mail tubes and other containers for images and posters for long plants. Here’s one that is 6 by 38 inches, good for quarts and half-gallons.

3) Consider your competition: For harder-to-ship plants like full-grown horsetail reed, look at what other sellers are charging.  One online nursery sells 5-gallon containers for nearly sixty dollars. While a good price for some landscapers, this might be a bit pricey for many casual gardeners. Consider your own shipping rates and fees. If it’s less than other sellers, try listing your plant.

Shipping Starters

Recently, we’ve been asked by a number of Southeast growers about state-to-state plant shipping policies. We’ve learned that every state has slightly different import and export regulations, but there are a few simple steps regarding what you should do to figure them out. First, visit your state’s Department of Agriculture website and search for “shipping plants.” Here, you should find general information about your state’s shipping policies as well as any documents that you might need to set up your nursery or garden center to ship plants. In Georgia, for example, it can be found at Rules for Plant Protection. While documents might at first look daunting, often regulations can be simpler than they appear. Contact us at if you have questions about your state or specific plants that you would like to sell.

Plant Shipping