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3 August 2021

Best places to buy seeds and plants online

Buying plants and seeds online is a great way to fill your garden with all kinds of flowers and vegetables.
CT
Ceri Thomas
Person with a laptop

Buying plants and seeds online is not only convenient but you’ll often find varieties that aren’t available at garden centres and you can shop from companies that specialise in a particular kind of plant.

With so many more people now shopping by mail order for their plants and seeds, Which? Gardening magazine wanted to find out how the most-used suppliers compare.

Plug plants

Plug plants are young plants that have been raised by the grower from seed or cuttings. They need to be potted up using a Best Buy compost for raising young plants as soon as they arrive with you and put in a light place to allow them to grow larger before being planted in a border or container. 

Plug plants

Best plug plant suppliers

Which? members can log in now to see the full results. If you’re not a member, join Which? to get instant access.

Company
Customer score
Our findings
Contact
79%
This nursery sells bedding and vegetable plug plants along with a selection of perennials. It also stocks a range of pots and planters, watering cans and gardening accessories. Of those who shopped here, 94% rated the website good or excellent for ease of use, while 93% gave the same rating to the quality of plants. The company allows customers to choose the despatch date of their chosen items, which can make it easier to plan your garden and create space for plants.
70%
This company supplies a range of plug plants of both vegetables and flowers alongside its main offering of vegetable seeds, potatoes, onions and garlic. The website is clearly laid out with well-signposted sections for the wide range available. Almost all members who bought plug plants here found the site easy to use. It was rated highly for delivery, customer service and packaging, with around nine in 10 users saying that they would be happy to use this company for plug plants again.

Plug plant suppliers on test

Which? members can log in now to see the full results. If you’re not a member, join Which? to get instant access.

Company
Sample size
Ease of using website
Range
Delivery
Packaging
Customer service
Plant quality
Value for money
Customer score
51
79%
89
70%
163
69%
53
69%
94
67%
181
64%
42
61%
58
60%
160
60%
83
60%
128
58%
144
58%
147
58%
32
na
na
na
na
na
na
na
56%
170
54%
139
50%
111
50%
135
49%
72
48%
53
45%
516
38%
54
38%

USING THE TABLE Companies are ranked by customer score, based on a combination of survey respondents’ overall satisfaction with the supplier and likelihood to recommend. The top suppliers are highlighted in red. Star ratings indicate how satisfied customers are with aspects of the service. We need at least 30 responses to rate each aspect. n/a = not enough responses received.

Seeds

Raising plants from seed brings a real sense of accomplishment and it's exciting to look out for the baby seedlings emerging. Hardy plants can be sown outdoors, but otherwise sow indoors using a Best Buy compost for sowing seeds. Once the seedlings are larger enough, they can moved ('pricked out') into individual pots or module trays, filled with a Best Buy compost for raising young plants.

Seed packets

Best seed suppliers

Which? members can log in now to see the full results. If you’re not a member, join Which? to get instant access.

Company
Customer score
Our findings
Contact
89%
Based on a small farm, this company produces and sells a dizzying array of unusual and heirloom, open-pollinated vegetable seeds, along with a selection of flower seeds and tubers. Its website is full of information about growing the veg on offer (nine out of 10 people who bought here chose vegetable seeds) and how to save your own seeds. It received top marks for all but one aspect of our survey (range available gained four stars). Its Art Nouveau-inspired paper seed packets are especially well liked, with almost everyone rating this company good or excellent for packaging. It also has a unique guarantee: if you’re unhappy with anything about its seeds, even the flavour of the final crop, it will replace, refund or give you a credit note.
84%
This company has an appealing website with all its veg seed, including an organic range, flowers and herbs, arranged alphabetically, so whether you’re seeking artichoke, ipomoea or yarrow, it’s easy to track down. Nearly all those who shopped with this company bought vegetable seeds, and around half bought flower seeds, too. Our survey respondents gave five stars for all criteria we asked about, aside from the range available (four stars).And almost all would recommend this company to friends and family. This company also offers substantial discounts for bulk orders from allotment associations.
82%
Borne out of a wish to share a love of growing unusual plants from seed, this company still adheres to this ethos and you’ll find seeds of everything from well-known veg and flowers to rare, exotic tree species, tropical climbers and even carnivorous plants. The entertaining plant descriptions alone are worth a visit to the website. It was the only supplier in our survey to get five stars for its range of seeds. While more than half of those shopping at this company bought veg seeds and three quarters bought flower seeds, one in seven plumped for seeds for herbs, trees, ornamental grasses and succulents.

Seed suppliers on test

Which? members can log in now and view the full results. If you're not a member, join Which? to get instant access.

Company
Sample size
Ease of using website
Range
Delivery
Packaging
Customer service
Seed quality
Value for money
Customer score
58
89%
137
84%
102
82%
171
78%
53
77%
40
na
na
na
76%
42
na
76%
153
72%
33
na
na
na
71%
140
69%
167
68%
139
67%
207
65%
367
59%

USING THE TABLE Companies are ranked by customer score, based on a combination of survey respondents’ overall satisfaction with the supplier and likelihood to recommend. The top suppliers are highlighted in red. Star ratings indicate how satisfied customers are with aspects of the service. We need at least 30 responses to rate each aspect. n/a = not enough responses received.

Plants

Buying from a nursery rather than a garden centre can allow you buy varieties that are harder to find and get advice from a specialist grower. Some nurseries offer a variety of plants and others specialise in one type, such as roses.

Best plant suppliers

Company
Customer score
Our findings
Contact
87%
The nursery attached to a well-known garden made Which? members very happy; 98% were satisfied with the buying experience, and everyone would recommend the nursery to others. It received four stars for plant quality and value for money, and five stars for all other aspects in our survey. The website is very well organised and lets you search for plants for  different garden conditions and alphabetically. Members had plenty of praise for the excellent customer service and variety of unusual species on offer, too.
86%
The world-famous rose breeder was used by one in 10 of those who bought any plants or bulbs in our survey. Nine in 10 of its customers rated the customer service as good or excellent, and almost everyone would recommend it and would buy here again. Carrying more than 200 varieties, along with a huge selection of others, the website is easy to navigate and allows you to search by rose type, colour, fragrance and garden situation. There’s also plenty of expert rose-care advice on offer.
82%
A family business that began as a hobby, this nursery has been growing and selling clematis for over 30 years and has been awarded 11 gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show. Customers rated its website highly for ease of use – it’s arranged by garden conditions, such as windy, shady and so on, with further filters to select plants by scent, size, soil type, colour and more. Almost everyone who shopped here thought the range of plants was good or excellent and nine in 10 gave it top marks for plant quality.
81%
Supplying more than 1,100 varieties of rose, this nursery's website was rated good or excellent by almost everyone who bought roses from it. You can search by colour and type of rose along with other criteria, such as best for small gardens or award-winning varieties. It also sells a selection of perennials, shrubs and clematis. The quality of plants scored highly, too, with nine in10 shoppers scoring it good or excellent, while almost everyone would recommend this nursery and would buy from it again.

Plant suppliers on test

Company
Sample size
Ease of using the website
Range
Delivery
Packaging
Customer service
Plant quality
Value for money
Customer score
47
87%
192
86%
33
na
82%
47
81%
48
78%
46
76%
76
75%
58
75%
71
74%
43
73%
60
73%
33
na
na
na
na
na
na
na
73%
184
72%
53
72%
156
71%
150
71%
114
67%
198
66%
188
64%
84
64%
73
62%
187
62%
49
59%
107
59%
197
59%
81
58%
155
58%
109
57%
82
54%
115
51%
515
49%
104
42%

USING THE TABLE Companies are ranked by customer score, based on a combination of survey respondents’ overall satisfaction with the supplier and likelihood to recommend. Star ratings indicate how satisfied customers are with aspects of the service. We need at least 30 responses to rate each aspect. n/a = not enough responses received.

How we test

In September/October 2020, Which? Gardening magazine asked 5,030 Which? members about their experiences of ordering plug plants and seeds over the previous 12 months. We asked which suppliers they used, along with questions about aspects of the service. We used these answers to create a customer score for each supplier. 

We had to receive a minimum of 30 responses for a supplier to give it ratings and a customer score. In some cases, a star rating may be missing from the table because some people selected ‘don’t know or n/a’ for that rating. The brand is still included in the table as it had enough responses for the customer-score questions about satisfaction and recommendation. 

We also found out whether members had experienced any problems with suppliers during the pandemic, whether they had complained, and how these were dealt with.