Sunday, August 10, 2014

Ordering hostas online

If you want the rarer hostas and not the run of the mill hostas that you find at local garden centers or home improvement stores, you will need to order online at some point.  I have over 200 varieties of hostas in my garden so I've had a lot experience ordering online, probably more than my husband would like me to have.
You can order online using several methods.  All have their own pros and cons.  Everyone has their favorite method and as long as you receive the hosta that you looked high and low for and that hosta is healthy, it can be considered a success.

I first like to make a list of the hostas that I want, I mean the hostas that I need because I want them all.  Once I have the list, I try my best to get all of them from one seller/supplier to save on shipping costs.  You would be surprised how many hostas will fit in a flat rate shipping box from USPS.

Over the years I have purchased off of eBay and from several online websites devoted to selling just hostas.  I've had successful purchases from both methods but some were better than others.
Use your packing list to check off the hostas as you empty the box
Sellers whether on eBay or Etsy or from websites such as Bridgewood Gardens or The Hosta Farm to name two, ship using three methods. In the pot with soil, with soil but with soil and root ball wrapped in plastic, or bare root wrapped in wet paper towel then placed in a plastic bag so that the paper towel doesn't dry out.
My preference is in the pot with soil.  This method is the heaviest so shipping costs are higher, especially if you plan to order a lot of plants.  My least favorite is bare root wrapped with a wet paper towel and placed in a baggie.  This method is the lightest and when ordering a large quantity of plants this method is the most cost effective.
Sometimes with the rarer plants you will not have a choice because there may only be one supplier. If you order from a supplier who ships bare root contact the supplier to request Monday shipping so that your plants will arrive before the weekend and not sit in a hot storage facility.
Also, buy your soil and pots ahead of time so that you are ready to repot upon arrival or have your garden bed ready for planting.  This means weeded, soil loosened, and compost added if needed.
If you are repotting and planting later, use potting soil and not top soil in your pots.  Also have a method for tagging your plants.  Not all suppliers include name tags.  Some will just use a Sharpie to write the name on the plastic bag.
You will need to know the name of your hosta so that you know the mature size and the mature color or colors.  Most immature and very young hostas look green.
This is why some gardeners are not impressed with hostas because they never see the final mature colors of the more rarer hostas.  I usually use a popsicle stick or I have purchased white plastic plant tags that you can write on with a Sharpie.
Here is an example of an immature hosta that doesn't look anything like it final mature color which is blue.
I recently purchased from two different suppliers. One shipped in small pots with soil and the other shipped bare root wrapped in wet paper towel and plastic. I tried my best to order from one supplier but since it was mid summer I was unable to find a grower that had all the hostas that I needed. Early spring usually offers the largest selections since some of the rarer hostas come in a very limited quantity.
Here are the hostas that I potted after they arrived bare root.  After potting lightly water the soil, then go back and thoroughly water the plants.  The next day I watered using a light fertilizer solution that promotes root development.  Root development is the 2nd number on the fertilizer package.  Go here for a post I wrote about fertilizer and what the numbers on fertilizer packages indicate.

And finally, have your cat thoroughly check the package to make sure you didn't miss a plant.