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Where to Buy Houseplants: Big Box Stores vs Local Nurseries vs Boutique Shops

The best places to buy houseplants use reliable growers and maintain diligent onsite plant care while also offering competitive prices. Unless you can get the truth out of an owner or employee, it may be impossible to know the quality and overall value of a houseplant you see in the store. That said, there are some notable differences in supply chains and business practices from big box stores, local nurseries, and boutique shops that can influence where you buy houseplants.

Buying Houseplants at Big Box Stores

Though snubbed by many plant enthusiasts, big box stores are still among the most common ways to find and buy houseplants. These stores are also the most affordable way to get plants on average. However, there are two big knocks against the plants at big box stores. First, the plants may be from large, national growers that use standardized greenhouse conditions, rather than grow conditions that reflect the local climate. Second, these plants may not receive the same level care and attention from the staff as the plants cultivated at smaller, local nurseries. Signs of distress when taking your plant home are more common from big box stores. Nevertheless, if you have a good setup at home and follow best care practices, many plants can adapt and reestablish themselves.

Buying Houseplants at Local Nurseries

Local plant nurseries tend to offer some of the best overall value for gardening and houseplants. Not all nurseries operate on the same scale, and that can make a big difference in what they offer. The tradeoff is price vs selection. By focusing on just a dozen popular and reliable plant varieties, nurseries can offer beautiful, healthy plants at a price that competes with the big box stores. However, indoor houseplant selection may be limited. As smaller, local growers diversify their selection while maintaining best cultivation practices, they usually need to increase their prices to turn a profit. The shopping experience is often an open greenhouse with long rows of tables for browsing. There may also be some plants fully outside and/or a modest indoor area for specialty plants.

Buying Houseplants at Boutique Gardening Shops

Boutique gardening stores are essentially high-end plant nurseries. You get the same high-quality results from local plant cultivation from gardening experts. You’ll usually find plenty of options for miniature plants in tiny plastic containers, but you’ll also find beautifully arranged and potted plants. Instead of long, orderly rows of houseplants, there is likely to be a thoughtfully designed sales floor that shows off the best houseplant examples. More than shopping for a plant you already know you want, these stores are great spaces to brainstorm new ideas for houseplant décor. The drawback is that the prices at these types of gardening stores may be even higher than other local nurseries.

What about Plant Delivery Services?

For a long time, online plant delivery was a niche market for people who prioritized convenience and selection over price and sustainability. This is still true to some degree, but there are new delivery service models that are working to lower the cost and improve sustainability. Whether directly through big-box stores or online delivery services that partner with local nurseries, many gardening stores are offering both in-store and plant delivery sales options.

Best Houseplant Buy and Care Practices

Where to buy houseplants is an important decision, but don’t overlook the fundamentals of houseplant care. The healthiest, most beautiful plant specimen in the world can wilt to nothing in a matter of weeks if neglected or attacked by pests. In other cases, a houseplant on its last legs may be nursed back to health.

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