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Thursday, March 11, 2010

DoLeaf--A New Online Marketplace for Plants

As a rule, I don't do a lot of plant shopping through the Internet or mailorder catalogs, but when I was invited by the folks at a new website called DoLeaf to sample some of their plants and write about them, it was easy to say yes. Even a quick look at the DoLeaf site tells you that this is different. DoLeaf is like a virtual farmers market for specialty nurseries and independent garden centers. With the participation of more than a dozen nurseries across the country so far, the variety of plant material is good and likely to get better.

What I liked even better was how you can shop. The site offers several ways to search for plants: by category (trees, shrubs, perennials, indoor, etc.); sun preference; growth rate; shipping form (seed, bulb, bareroot, etc.); USDA growth zone; or store. So if you want a slow-growing shade tree for your zone, you can check the appropriate boxes and get the results without having to sift through a lot of unrelated products.

After quite a bit of searching (there were a lot of good options for just about every spot in the garden I was looking to fill), I finally narrowed my selection down to three plants from Studley Flower Gardens: a fuchsia begonia, a gartenmeister fuchsia, and a variegated bougainvillea, each in 4.5-inch pots.

The plants arrived yesterday and here's where the story is not quite as good. Although the three plants were clearly healthy, beautiful plants when they were shipped, two of the three suffered some breakage during shipping. The bougainvillea was intact and beautiful:


The fuchsia begonia lost about a 4-inch piece:


And the gartenmeister fuchsia got the worst of it--several broken branches that left the plant looking pretty small:

Now, as I said at the beginning, I don't often buy plants through the mail, so I'm not sure how common it is to have plants arrive broken. And because the plants were big and healthy when they were shipped, I'm sure they'll recover--and I'll get several additional plants by rooting the broken pieces. So I'm not disappointed. But with all the aspects of DoLeaf that I liked, packaging may be the one area they need to improve.

Do check out their site, though, which is still in beta. It seems like a great idea and I'd like to see anything that gives small, independent growers another sales outlet succeed.

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4 comments:

Greg Draiss said...

prices atrocious, shipping insane,many plants did not list pot sizes. Many other items listed only one available. Another internet rip off
recanc

Claire Splan said...

Since there are a number of nurseries participating in DoLeaf, and I assume they are setting their own prices, I expect there is some variation in pricing, although the plants I ordered were priced comparably to my local prices. Shipping prices did strike me as high, but when I checked the shipping prices of one other mailorder nursery (Annie's Annuals), the shipping costs also seemed comparable. Since the quality of the plants seemed good, I can't agree that this is a rip-off--maybe not a great bargain, but that's not the same as a rip-off.

Sarah J said...

Hi, I'm Sarah, one of the co-founders of DoLeaf. The nurseries on DoLeaf set their own prices, and most of them are small and sometimes they only have a few of a particular rare plant in stock.

I did a quick check of DoLeaf prices for five plants and found the prices to be cheaper or right around the prices for other nurseries that ship. One example is the Sunny Knock Out Rose, on DoLeaf it's $15.00 + $7.00 shipping, so $22.00. On another site the plant was $18.95 plus $16.95 shipping, $35.90. A third had the rose for $29.99 + 10.95 shipping, that's $40.94.

We've heard from several of our buyers that DoLeaf prices tend to actually be lower than at other nurseries.

Tina said...

Too bad about the broken plants, they do look nice on the site! Do you have an opinion on bug sprays? I'm looking for organic options. I found this Safer Brand EndAll online and would like to hear your opinion. I like how many different bugs it targets and how it kills them no matter what stage of development.
This is the spray I'm talking about:
http://www.saferbrand.com/store/garden-care/5102

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