Mail Order Gardening

Perennial Flowering Plants, Shrubs and Trees

I am a cheap and lazy gardener. My soilplay consists of planting, watering, minimal pruning and weeding and keeping my fingers crossed. I have ordered shrubs with varying degrees of success through mail order, so I wanted to document my experiences here.

Tantalized by the lush foliage and lovely blooms touted by these gardening catalogs, I eagerly awaited my first order. Prepare to be disappointed. Many "shrubs" resemble not so much saplings but leafless twigs with roots, aptly named "whips." One plant means ONE plant with one root, not several clustered together like you'll find at the nursery. Some perennials are merely root balls while others arrive in the tiniest of pots -- maybe slightly bigger than what you'll find populating a flat of annuals. Still others arrived moldy or DOA. In some cases you'll get more for your money shopping locally. But many of these shrubs and trees grew in nicely over the course of a year (or more). It's fun to experiment, especially with plants I can't find locally.

Not Recommended: usually means you shouldn't buy this plant online (i.e. Redbud). Sometimes it means the plant didn't appeal to me (Fruit Cocktail Tree).

Neutral: could mean I was unimpressed with the plant itself (Mock Orange), or that you're better off purchasing locally.

Recommended: A winner, whether you purchase online or locally.

I ordered exclusively through because they were the least expensive (click on the banner above to be taken directly to their site). They also offer the standard one year guarantee. If your plant doesn't survive they will send you a replacement if you request it within one year from date of purchase.

Please note if you place an order through a link to DirectGardening, I will receive a small commission.

Year planted follows description in parenthesis.

For reference, these shrubs were planted in zone 6 in mostly sandy soil. Winter 2006 was warmer than usual; I had flowers until December, and then we hit a cold snap in February. I think this disturbed a lot of my perennials because many did not come back, or were damaged. In 2007 I moved to a slightly colder climate, zone 5, so some of these entries won't be updated.

Updated 06/12/2017.

Groundcovers Sun Perennials Shrubs and Trees Shade Perennials Annuals Deer Resistant Cold Hardy Tropical Plants Contact Us
Plant Experience Conclusion
Prunus cistena Purple Leaf Plum Hedge. Nothing survived. (2004).Not Recommended
Prunus besseyi Dwarf Flowering Cherry. This is not an attractive shrub, and I didn't get any fruit after two years. (2004).Not Recommended
Forsythia x intermedia 'Golden Bell' Forsythia. I was substituted mock orange instead because of crop failure. (2004).Neutral
Dwarf Fruit Cocktail Tree Dwarf Fruit Cocktail Tree. Didn't do much, died second year. (2004).Not Recommended
Rhododendron Rhododendron. Arrived too small to be useful -- only a few inches high. However, I want to order Polar Night Rhododendron since it's not available locally. (2004).Not Recommended
Kalmia latifolia> Mountain Laurel. They all survived, but they're rather small. One first bloomed in 2006. (2004).Neutral
Prunus besseyi Hansen's Cherry Bush. No cherries from these, they didn't do much and didn't come back in 2007. (2004).Not Recommended
Redbud Redbud. Not one survived. (2004).Not Recommended
Euonymus alatus 'Compactus' Dwarf Burning Bush. Too small, slow growing. (2004).Not Recommended
Prunus subhirtella 'Pendula' Potted Weeping Cherry. In three years this grew to many times its original size. However, it's not a weeping cherry -- its branches are upright, which is why I'm giving it a neutral rating. I think it's a Yoshino Flowering Cherry. One bloom in 2007. (2004).Neutral
Prunus serrulata 'Kwanzan' Royal Japanese Cherry Tree. Another fast growing tree, but did not bloom as of 2007. (2004).Recommended
Philadelphus virginalis Mock Orange. Only one survived but it is doing very well in partial shade. First bloomed in 2006. Flowers aren't anything special, I would not re-purchase. (2004).Neutral
Bridal White Spirea Bridal White Spirea. It's growing well, started blooming after one year. (2004).Recommended
Hydrangea paniculata 'Grandiflora' Hydrangea Tree. Slow growing, but bloomed after one year. They are so cheap I will buy more. (2004).Recommended
Cornus stolonifera Red Twig Dogwood. They're doing OK, haven't bloomed as of 2007, one died after three years. (2004).Recommended
Weigela florida 'Variegata' Variegated Weigela. An attractive shrub, most bloomed the first year. Do better in sun. (2004).Recommended
Crape Myrtle Crape Myrtle. One died, one is doing well in full sun. It formed flowering buds in 2006, but they never opened fully. (2004).Recommended
Pink Smoke Mist Tree Pink Smoke Mist Tree. I wasn't expecting much as this was a freebie, but it's sprouted leaves. I like the paddle-shaped foliage. (2006).Recommended