Wondering if buying plants online is worth it? It is, I promise! It’s an excellent way to find affordable cuttings of plants, as well as find rare or out-of-season plants. Here are my tips for buying plants on Etsy.
Is buying plants online from Etsy smart?
Hey guys! Today I am talking about tips for buying plants on Etsy, as well as sharing 9 plants I’ve actually purchased on Etsy as proof that it’s a great option. Etsy is a great place to buy plants for a few reasons.
First, it’s a well-regulated, secure, and reliable marketplace. You end up paying slightly more than if you were buying directly from someone on a Facebook buy/sell/trade plant group, but that gives you the extra protection that goes along with buying from a reputable source.
I also like the fact that I can buy cuttings of more expensive plants on Etsy and grow them myself. If I bought a full plant of everything I wanted…I’d be broke. Cuttings are a more affordable way to expand your plant collection, and you usually can’t buy cuttings from your local nursery. Plus cuttings are easier to ship! So let’s talk tips.
Tips for buying plants on Etsy
These tips could really be applied to most online marketplaces, but I am focusing on Etsy exclusively because that’s what I have the most experience with.
Tip #1: Buy plants from Etsy shops with a lot of photos
I personally like to buy from shops that show me the actual plant I am buying. For example, when I was shopping for a ric rac cactus, there were a few listing that specified the pot size I would be buying, but it didn’t show me the actual plant.
You can guess what size the plant might be from the pot size, but it doesn’t tell you everything. A lot of shops will upload multiple photos labeled “A,” “B,” “C,” etc., and you can choose which one you want. I like this approach, especially for more expensive plants. But I understand it is a lot of extra work for the shop owner.
If the listings don’t have photos of the actual plant you’re buying, check the reviews. Pictures included in reviews can help give you an idea of what size and condition your plant might be.
Tip #2: Read the Etsy shop’s recent reviews and look at review photos
Speaking of reviews, I spend a decent amount of time reading reviews before buying from a shop. A lot of people ask me if I recommend specific Etsy shops for plants. While I’m happy to refer them to shops I’ve ordered from, I typically don’t monitor their stock.
Since inventory is changing constantly with these shops, the chances of them having the plant I am looking for are hit or miss. If shops I already know are legit don’t have what I’m looking for, I just do an Etsy search and start looking through the recent reviews.
Were the customers happy? If they weren’t or if there was an issue, did the shop owner address it? How did the plants look if the customers uploaded photos? (This is kind of like looking at the “traveler” photos in TripAdvisor instead of just relying on the official marketing photos!)
As long as a shop has good reviews—understanding that there will always be people who leave crappy reviews and are difficult to please—I feel comfortable ordering from them!
Tip #3: Buy plants online from the same Etsy shop
Etsy’s shipping prices can be a shock if you’re used to ordering from places like Amazon and Target. Since Etsy is made up of independent sellers, they all charge different shipping rates.
For example, if you buy a snake plant from Shop A, and in the same transaction you buy a rubber plant from Shop B, that’s two separate shipping charges. Because it’s two separate people shipping two separate plants from two separate locations.
If you are in the market for more than one plant, you might be able to save a few bucks by buying the plants from the same shop. Take a look at what shops have in stock before putting your orders in!
Tip #4: Compare plant prices and check Etsy shipping details
Speaking of combining shipping, check to see if the price you’re paying includes shipping. If it doesn’t include shipping, you can type your address in to calculate what shipping will be. Shipping can really add up on large plants! (Note: If you’re in Canada, my friend Colleen has a post about Etsy shops that ship to Canadians!)
After you’ve taken this cost into consideration, do some price comparison if multiple shops have your plant. I have noticed that prices can vary wildly between shops. Sometimes you can pay a little bit less if a shop is new, too. Do your research and don’t assume that a plant is “rare” just because the Etsy listing says it is!
Tip #5: Know all about the plant you’re buying
Along those lines—know what you’re buying. Maybe even shop around on other sources first to get a good idea of what you should pay for the plant. And to make sure that the plant actually is what it says it is and isn’t listed incorrectly. (Though generally Etsy shops are pretty good at marking plants correctly!)
Don’t buy a plant just because you like how it looks in the pictures or you saw someone else with one. Make sure you understand its care needs, have a spot in mind for it, and have a pot. If you don’t meet your new plant’s care needs, it won’t look like the pictures for long. 🙂
Tip #6: Be mindful of the Etsy shop’s location and your weather
This is a big one with online plant shopping. Always look at where the plant is coming from. How long of a journey will the plant have to get to you? If you’re shopping U.S. sellers—which I do because I don’t want any hangups with cross-border shipping—a lot of the sellers are located in California and Florida.
I’m in Maryland, so California and Florida are both reasonable journies for plants to make. However, if it’s late wall, winter, or early spring, it’s still cold here in Maryland, so shipping could be problematic. Make sure you don’t need to buy a heat pack from the seller to keep the plant alive during its journey.
Likewise, in the dead of summer, it can get extremely hot here. I don’t want plants or cuttings sitting in my mailbox or in the sun on my front porch for long after they’ve been in a hot mail truck all day!
Etsy shops I’ve bought plants from
Overall, Etsy is a great option for buying plants online. Since shipping can be a lot, I generally buy smaller plants and cuttings on Etsy. (I usually try to buy at a local nursery first, but their selection can be more limited than a worldwide marketplace. Obviously.)
Here are some shops I’ve purchased plants from:
And here are plants I’ve actually ordered on Etsy and that have held up well to shipping (pictures throughout!):
- Silver dollar succulent vine cutting
- Calico kitten succulent plant
- Philodendron micans (velvet leaf) plant
- Prickly pear cactus cuttings
- Monstera adansonii cuttings
- Ric rac cactus plant
- Rhipsalis campos-portoana
- Hoya rope plant
- Senecio pickle plant cuttings
Pin my tips for buying plants on Etsy!
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