Choosing a Nursery

Written by April Reinhardt (last updated November 10, 2021)


If you have a green thumb—and even especially if you don't—then you'll probably consider visiting a nursery to purchase plants. There are several types of nurseries:

  • Retail nurseries sell plants to the general public, either in a store setting or by mail.
  • Wholesale nurseries sell exclusively to landscapers and other nurseries, either in a store setting or by mail.
  • Private nurseries cater to private institutions and estates.

For home use, you will go to a retail nursery. Choosing a nursery is much the same as choosing a car dealership in that customer service, variety, specialty, and location matter most. Some important things to consider when choosing a nursery are:

  • Does the nursery offer a variety of climate-specific plants? Your garden is unique, and it is important that your nursery offer an array of plants. While you may have something specific in mind, seeing a wide assortment of available species may pique your interest, and creating a new vision of what your garden can be.
  • Does the nursery offer location-specific plants? If you want to plant winter squash and live in Zone 5, they will never ripen. Plants are zone-specific and a good nursery will never sell plants to you that will not flourish in the zone in which you grow them.
  • Is the nursery staff knowledgeable and helpful? There are regulations that vary by the state in which you live as to what plants you can—and cannot—grow. Will the nursery point out to you that you live in Oregon and, thus, cannot purchase their mail order cherry trees? When you are in a quandary as to whether you should choose the Hyacinth or the black tulip bulbs to garnish your walkway, will an expert staff member know what to suggest, and why?
  • Consider the history of the nursery. How long have they been in business? Do your friends use their services? Do they carry a quality product? Do they offer deliveries? Do they have money-back guarantees?

If you know what kind of soil you have, then you know what types of plants will thrive in your garden. A good nursery will know your soil type, and suggest plants to make your garden successful. Established nurseries have experienced personnel who can test your soil before allowing you to buy plants that will not grow in your garden. Similarly, a good nursery will ask you where you intend to plant that tree you're buying—either in sun or shade—and then tell you how much sunlight will make the plant grow the best, thus saving you the disappointment of having a tree that won't grow properly.

When choosing a nursery, make sure that you are completely satisfied with the customer service offered. If not, look elsewhere.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...


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What is two less than 3?

2014-07-09 13:40:30


Big Box store nurseries get many of their plants from nurseries in different growing zones and countries. And often their employees know little about a plant's growing habits and zone needs. A local nursery with local grown plants may cost a little more but their plants usually grow and survive better.


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