When planting season arrives, many gardeners start thinking about where to buy seedlings. Picking out plants to grow is one of the most exciting parts of gardening, but figuring out the best place to buy them may seem like a daunting task.
Thankfully, there is a wide variety of places to buy seedlings for your home garden. In fact, you may be surprised at how many places you can find high-quality seedlings at reasonable prices! Here are several places to look.
Where to Buy Seedlings
If you don’t have time to start plants from seed, buying seedlings is an efficient way to start your garden. Knowing where to buy seedlings takes the pressure off so you can get to the fun part of choosing plants!
Local nurseries are excellent places to buy seedlings. Many small nurseries and garden centers are locally owned. It’s always a plus when you get to support a small business.
Many times local nurseries start their own seedlings so they’re able to give them more time and attention than mass-produced seedlings.
In addition to healthy seedlings, a local nursery can provide you with resources, tools, and products that are ideally suited to your growing zone.
There’s a local nursery near me that I absolutely love to shop at. They have a wide variety of well-tended plants at great prices. If you have a local nursery near you I recommend checking them out first.
Local farms are another good place to buy seedlings. Many farms offer seedling sales in spring and again in the fall. Like with local nurseries, their plants are well-suited to the climate where they’re located.
Visit the USDA Local Food Directories Portal to find farms and farmers near you.
Local Harvest is another good way to find local farms. Just choose “farms” or “farmers markets” from the green drop-down menu at the top of the page. Type in your city and state to find farms and farmer’s markets nearby.
The Farmer’s Market
Speaking of farmer’s markets, many sell seedlings in the spring when it’s time to start putting plants in the ground.
This is another great place to buy seedlings that have been locally grown and are well-suited to growing in your area.
A local farmer’s market is also a good place to find unique crops that you don’t typically see at larger chain stores. You may be able to find seedlings for things like yellow watermelon, black cherry tomatoes, or purple cauliflower.
Home Improvement Stores
Home improvement stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Ace Hardware often have large garden centers where you can purchase seedlings.
These stores have a wide selection of plants including fruits and vegetables, herbs, flowers, shrubs, and trees.
Keep in mind that these stores often start setting their seedlings out long before it’s actually time to put them in the ground. Don’t be tempted to buy seedlings as soon as you see them. Wait until the right time!
Big Box Stores
Big box stores like Walmart, and Super Target often have garden centers as well. Even if they don’t have a large garden center they may have a small display of seedlings in the spring.
If you’re looking for a convenient place to buy seedlings, big box stores may fit the bill. Especially if you shop there regularly already.
School Gardening Clubs or 4-H programs
When thinking about where to buy seedlings your neighborhood school may not be the first place that comes to mind but it can be a good resource.
Many schools have garden clubs or 4-H programs where students grow different kinds of plants. These groups often have plant sales in the spring to sell seedlings and raise money.
The cool thing about buying from one of these groups is that the proceeds usually go directly toward the program.
By supporting these types of sales, not only do you get to buy healthy seedlings, but you’re also ensuring that more kids get to learn about gardening and growing their own food.
School, city, and community websites are good places to look for information on these types of programs.
How to Choose the Best Seedlings
Once you’ve figured out where to buy seedlings, the next step is making sure you get the healthiest plants. If you’re wondering how to choose the best seedlings, this next section is for you!
Choose Seedlings Without Fruit
It may seem counter-intuitive but it’s actually better to buy seedlings that haven’t produced fruit or flowers yet.
When you get your seedlings home, you want them to put all their energy into getting established and developing strong and healthy roots. This results in stronger, healthier plants and more fruit in the long run.
Early fruiting slows down plant growth because the plant is focused on producing fruit rather than growing strong and healthy. You may get fruit sooner, but you probably won’t get as many and they won’t be as healthy.
Look for Green
Leaves on a good quality seedling should be green and healthy, not yellow. Yellowing leaves indicate a problem like underwatering or a lack of nutrients.
A few yellow leaves at the bottom of the plant usually aren’t a problem but a lot of yellowing leaves are definitely something to avoid.
Look for Strong, Thick Stems
Stems are an excellent indicator of the health of a seedling. The healthiest plans have strong, sturdy stems that can withstand the natural elements outside.
Thin stems won’t hold up as well to the elements like wind and heavy rain.
Avoid the Tallest Seedlings
Tall seedlings might look big and healthy but there’s often a reason why they’re so tall and it’s usually not a good one.
Very tall plants may have grown tall to compete for light. Seedlings that are kept very warm sometimes have rapid growth that results in long stems but weak plants.
Abnormally long stems are often spindly and weak. Shorter, thicker stems indicate a healthier plant.
Look for Signs of Disease
Check the plant over and look for any signs of disease. Brown spots, discolored leaves, curling leaves, or a dry crumbly texture are all things to avoid.
Avoid Damaged Seedlings
Common garden pests are a problem for garden centers too. Check for insect damage like holes, eggs, or discoloration. Look at the undersides of the leaves as well as the top — some pests like to hide out underneath leaves.
Avoid other signs of damage as well, like broken stems or crushed leaves.
Wait Until the Right Time
Once you know where to buy seedlings and how to pick the right ones, you may be tempted to go out and buy seedlings right away!
For the healthiest plants, it’s better to wait to buy seedlings until you’re ready to transplant them.
It can be hard to wait but your seedlings will be healthier and grow better if they get in the ground quickly rather than staying in a small pot for several weeks.
Many Choices for Where to Buy Seedlings!
Once you’ve decided where to buy seedlings, the fun of growing can begin! If you’re wondering what to do next, we’ve got you covered. Visit the Seed Starting page to find answers to all of your seed-starting questions.
Whether you’re an experienced gardener or a beginner, there’s something for everyone. You can find tips on things like how and when to transplant seedlings, growing guides, product recommendations, and much more. If you need advice on gardening supplies and tools, you’re in the right place!
Getting started on your seed growing journey? Use my seed starting guide to find care guides, helpful tips, product suggestions, and more!