There are so many varieties of each kind of plant. I don’t buy generic plants or started plants unless it really really doesn’t matter to me— like flats of annual flowers that are labeled “waxed begonia - pink” (but if you are a begonia enthusiast, you might want a specific named cultivar). I wouldn’t buy a perennial flowering plant or fruiting plant that is only generically labelled. — that’s because I’ve been getting seed/plant catalogs since the 1980’s and have read them all. There are definitely good ones and bad ones.
For me, the fun in buying from catalogs from reputable companies is all the different varieties with distinct characteristics that they offer. Some of those don’t matter much either, but some are vitally important for matching the growing conditions to the limits of what is available in my garden. I generally stick to catalogs/websites that have good trial growing descriptions in their own gardens which have growing conditions that in some way relates to my own. I generally don’t buy from ones in Southern California or Florida, etc. I look to companies in New England for winter hardy plants and low temp tolerant crops.
For living perennial plants, I try to find what I want from Nursery sources that are geographically close to me so they will have grown under similar climatic conditions as my own garden and, most important, so the package will experience minimum number of shipping/storage days with just the basic shipping method — since I don’t want to pay extra for expedited shipping unless it is absolutely necessary. Sometimes you need to find out where they will be shipping from, since they might have different Nursery sites or they might actually be ordering out from elsewhere. (this is often the case with seed potatoes, onion plants, mushroom spawn, etc.)
Sometimes I buy from a catalog.website because a particular variety or plant is not available from anywhere else.
Sometimes you will get multiple catalogs because one your ordered from is part of a ...conglomerate? (a big umbrella company that has several smaller companies — many of which used to be a small business with their own good reputation that were bought out). And once one gets hold of your information, they will send a catalog from every one of the subsidiaries. One easy way to check is to look at their return address.
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