A surge of new gardeners is creating higher demand than usual. Here's how to get what you’re looking for.

By Megan Hughes
April 28, 2021
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Strategy isn't a word usually associated with plant shopping, but 2021 is yielding all kinds of new experiences. With a multitude of new gardeners fueling the demand for all things green, from houseplants and perennials to trees and veggies and everything in between, supplies at garden centers, box stores, and online shops are flying off the shelves so fast that the gardening industry is struggling to keep up. That means you'll likely have to be more strategic about your plant shopping this spring. Use these tips to help you find and buy all the plants and gardening gear you need.

couple shopping for plants at garden nursery
Credit: kali9/Getty Images

1. Don't Put Off Your Plant Shopping

Independent garden centers in some regions of the country are reporting that customers, excited for the new gardening season, are purchasing colorful annuals and vegetable plants about 3 weeks earlier than they have in the past. This early buying spree is creating a shortage during the traditional spring plant shopping window. So even if you are in a region that could still get some late frosts, it's a good idea to buy the plants you want now and protect them from cold spells.

2. Try Something New

Make a shopping list before you head to the garden center, and decide what your first, second, and even third choices might be. Instead of specific plants, your list could focus on qualities like color palette or light requirement (for example, pink flowers for hanging baskets, or shade perennials).

When you reach the garden center, be prepared to use the list as a guide. "Be ready to be flexible with the type of plant or color," advises Jeanine Standard with Proven Winners plant company. When items on your list can't be found, embrace the opportunity to try something new.

3. Talk to the Staff

Connect with garden center employees to inquire about plant deliveries. They might be bringing plants onto the selling floor at regular intervals. Find out when new plants arrive and time your next visit accordingly. If you are looking for something specific, the retailer may be able to tell you if they will stock that plant, and if so, put a hold on it for you when their inventory is restocked.

4. Grab Garden Supplies

Not only are plants in high demand this year, but so are many products needed for growing them. Potting soil, containers, and fertilizer sales are up, too. "Buy it when you see it, do not expect it to be there the next time you stop in," says Standard.

5. Explore All Your Options

If you strike out at your favorite garden center or box store, search out a nearby plant shop that you haven't visited before. A quick Google Maps search might yield several plant retailers in your area. You'll likely find different plants and merchandise at each stop. Don't forget to consider local plant sales, which many public gardens and organizations host in spring. Shopping online? Enter the word "buy" in your search bar along with the plant name to pull up retailers selling the plant you are looking for.

6. Take Stock of What You Have

This is the year to make more plants by dividing the perennials that are growing in your garden. It is also the year to repurpose items from around the house or garage into planting containers. Talk to your neighbors and gardening friends about trading plants, seeds, or gardening supplies. Most important, don't lose sight of the joy of growing plants. The natural world reveals new delights daily.

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