I was approached recently by Plantify to review their new packaging for online purchasing of plants. I was quite intrigued by their claims since I have had very mixed experiences of buying plants on-line. It is frustrating because often the plants I want to buy are quite specialist, particularly with my growing interest in Primulas and alpines and so the nurseries that supply what I want are somewhere else in the country. I recently had a houseplant delivered which lost a third of its mass when I unwrapped it from being buffeted around and now is only a fifth of its original size due to the damage.
Plantify’s approach is partly about design and partly about plants and buying them online but this review is about plant buying. They have two USPs – firstly the plants are all sourced from British nurseries, something I am keen to support, and secondly they claim their packaging is unique and aims to ensure that your plants arrive safely and in one piece. I was asked to select three plants at random from their website. I thought I would try to be clever and choose three very different plants to test their packaging but at the same time they would obviously have to be plants I wanted – so whilst I was very tempted to try out a spiky Agave I ended up not going for that option. I chose Rosa ‘Eyes for You’, Dryopteris erythrosora (Cooper shield fern) and an Aster. I then had an email saying that they had been unhappy with the quality of the Aster when it arrived from the nursery so wanted to offer me an alternative – Aster lateriflorous ‘Lady in Black’. I thought this was interesting and wondered if it was just to ensure a good review but I was advised that if I was a paying customer they would have contacted me and discussed the problem before sending out a plant they felt wasn’t up to standard. How refreshing.
As you can see each of the three plants was in a separate box all fitting snugly in the larger box – so very strong and robust. The package also arrived within 24hrs of me being told it was on its way. Inside the individual boxes the plants are held in place by two sort of cardboard catches, that’s not a very good description and it is explained better on their website, but it was very effective and there was no way I could get the plants out until I had undone these.
As you can see the plants are very healthy in appearance. I was quite impressed as my previous experience has often been of substandard and tired looking plants turning up. Also included in the package was a print out of the website page for each plant with all the growing information which I thought was a simple but excellent idea as it saved me having to hunt out the information.
I get the impression that Plantify is in its infancy as the list of nurseries supplying them at present seems quite small but that could be me not looking in the right place. However the nurseries that are listed include some well-known ones which have excellent reputations such as Edulis and Taylors Clematis. Plantify is also a supporter of the Which ‘Better Plants by Post’ campaign. If you have a look around the website you will see that the plants are very reasonably priced. I would have liked to have seen clearer information about delivery costs but playing around on the website and choosing a hydrangea to pretend to buy it indicated that this would cost me around £7 for delivery, which isn’t bad given the cost of petrol it would take to go to a nursery to find the plant.
As I have said Plantify also has a design service. There is an online garden design tool which is free to download and interestingly you can avoid having to measure up your space as it uses google maps to find your garden and that is the starting point. I’m not really interested in design but I can see it being an interesting tool to play with if you are and then of course once you have played around planting your plants on-line you will want to buy them from Plantify so it is quite a good concept.
I am all for supporting British Nurseries over imports. I do find myself wondering at the price of the plants and whether it is cost-effective for the nurseries but I also know that there is little money in plant production – maybe that is another campaign Which should have. Anyway, I was very impressed with the quality of the plants and the condition they arrived in. I will definitely consider Plantify next time I want to buy some plants online.