Garden designer Kate Mason admits that until a few weeks ago, if someone had told her to buy plants on eBay, she would have been cautious about it.
“I would never have been in a garden for a client and would have said, ‘I get everything from eBay,’” says the award-winning designer (kmgardendesign.uk).
Yet the array of exotic species that graced her Garden Envy Beautiful Border exhibit at the recent BBC Gardeners’ World Live, which won her a platinum award, all came from eBay. And they all looked super healthy.
“It has been a complete education for me. Now I feel confident enough to say, “Actually, if we wanted something really rare or unusual, eBay is a great platform to find these tricky things.”
Plants ranged from the huge-leaved Colocasia ‘Black Magic’ to the striking purple flowers of Angelica gigas, as well as a range of bright orange echinacea and sizzling red pokers.
Most of the plants Mason chose are grown in the UK and many came from a nursery near her, which was selling on eBay. She was able to pick up her orders, rather than risk them being damaged in transit.
“Gardeners are probably a little hesitant to buy from eBay – I was,” she says. “It was a concern for me because you don’t just buy from a nursery. You could buy from individual sellers, from anyone really. “
Lisa Ward, RHS Senior Plant Health Scientist, notes: “Online marketplaces such as eBay can be attractive places to buy plants, allowing people to find rare varieties from specialty growers or overseas, often at a lower cost and with the advantage of rapid delivery.
“However, when shopping online from individual sellers, it is not easy to check the background of the seller or the factory. For this reason, there is a risk that the plant material is not regulated, i.e. it has not been subjected to the necessary phytosanitary controls and / or does not comply with other regulations in place to prevent trade in endangered species.
So what is an expert’s advice if you are buying plants on eBay?
View seller reviews
“You have to be careful and shop wisely,” Mason says. “It is important that you look at the Seller Ratings and Feedback Ratings and read the description correctly, which I have not done on several occasions.” As a result, Mason was given tiny plants that she thought were bigger and bare root types when she thought they would be in pots.
Check your source
“You can see where the sales people are based. If it’s in China, it’ll tell you, or if it’s shipped from the US, it’ll tell you. Checking shipping and postage costs is another good pointer. If you see that something is coming from America, you can be sure that it will need to be stopped at customs and you may need to pay import tax, ”Mason explains.
Ward adds, “Gardeners can verify mail order and seed and plant sellers on the Internet by visiting their business website and verifying that the business address and phone number are based in Grande. -Brittany, to ensure that you reduce the likelihood of introducing pests and diseases to plants. from unregulated material from overseas. If the seller or the origin of the plants or seeds is not clear, it is better not to buy them.
What about alien species that can carry disease?
“So we had the problem with olives and Xylella (a plant bacteria that has killed trees in Italy, Spain and France but has so far not been detected in the UK). I would just be aware of that and would always recommend buying something so controversial from a reputable seller, ”advises Mason.
“Is it a private seller or a nursery?” If it is a nursery, you can send it a message asking if the plant you are interested in has a phytosanitary passport. If not, you should say no.
Ward adds: “Following Brexit, there are new rules for importing plant material into Britain. People wishing to import plants for their own use must register as an importer with Defra. Importing plants may require a phytosanitary certificate, notification, documentary and physical health checks and associated costs.
What if an advertised plant is not of the type described?
“This is where seller feedback comes in,” Mason says. “If the seller is reputable and knowledgeable, he will not sell a plant that he cannot correctly identify. If he’s an “average Joe,” someone who has something extra they want to get rid of, then you might get something you didn’t ask for. But in this situation, contact the seller to verify, and if it was wrongly described, you can get a refund.
How Much Are You Likely To Save By Buying Plants On eBay?
“Probably a lot. You can click and collect to save money. When you shop on eBay you focus on what you want, whereas when you go to a garden center or nursery you can make impulse purchases and end up with more than you need, ”says Mason.
A spokesperson for Thompson & Morgan, which also sells on eBay as well as its regular website, said: “Prices vary – some items will be special offer exclusively on eBay, others will be on sale. website.”
Do you have a return if a plant is damaged on arrival?
Ceri Thomas, editor of Which? Gardening says, “If you choose to buy online, it’s important to remember that you have certain rights and that you don’t have to put up with low-quality plants.
“If you order online and your item arrives damaged, does not match the listing description, or is the wrong item, you can return it for a refund.”
“Keep in mind that some plants can be considered perishable, so you should let the retailer or seller know as soon as they arrive if you are not happy with the quality. “