Log In / Register
African violets and collectible houseplants
Basket Empty
Advanced Search
Menu Basket Empty Search

What Should I Order?

If this is your first time having plants shipped to you in the mail, or ordering online, don't worry.  We've been successfully shipping plants since 1985 and have thousands of satisfied customers.  We are the only business of our type that will ship plants anywhere in the world, at any time of the year 

Further, we guarantee safe delivery, so all the risk of shipping is ours not yours.  Afraid that it's too cold or too hot, or that the mail delivery in your area is unreliable?  Don't worry.  If the plants are die from too much heat or cold in transit, or the post office crushes the package, it's our loss, not yours.  We will readily give you a refund or credit, or send replacement plants, for any plants that aren't safely delivered.  That said, some  very minor damage should be tolerated (these are fragile, living things), and the responsibility of growing the plants is yours--we can only promise that they arrive safely, not that you can grow them well.

Worried about ordering online?  Again, don't worry.  All information provided online is confidential, secure, and can't be viewed by anyone other than us (we pay good money for this service!).  Further, we do not share this information with others--we don't sell or trade mailing lists or other customer information. 

I'm a novice.  What should I order?

All of the plants that list and sell here can be successfully grown by the hobbyist in their home.  Still, some are easier than others to succeed with.  If you're new to indoor gardening, consider yourself a novice or a "black thumb", or just don't know what to order or where to start, we can make the following suggestions:

The "seller's choice" specials.  If you haven't grown a particular plant before, or don't have a shopping list of specific varieties in mind (you just want some nice plants that are different), this is your best option.  By leaving the choice to us, we can select plants that are more mature and easier to grow.  We always try to include a number of different kinds of varieties, either in foliage or bloom.  We realize that this may be the customer's first exposure to these plants, so we aim to provide them a representative, easy to grow, selection.

Read the variety description and believe what is said. Be try to be as truthful as possible when describing varieties.  Don't just order by looking at the pictures!  A variety my have a very photogenic bloom but more difficult to grow or a more stubborn bloomer!  When reading the description, look for words like "easy grower", "very profuse bloomer", "one of our very favorites", and the like. 

Consider your growing conditions.  Choose plants that will likely do best in your home environment.  For example, Episcias would not be a good choice if your windowsill is cold and drafty in the winter (they don't like the cold), while chiritas or streptocarpus, would thrive in these conditions.  If you have very limited space, miniature violets may be a wiser choice than the larger standard varieties.  If you have a window that is too bright and hot for violets, it may be great for nematanthus or hoya.  If you have too little light to get any plant to bloom, consider growing foliage plants like the miniature container plants listed here or plants that are attractive for their foliage alone (even when not in bloom)  like episcias, nematanthus, alsobia, or some of the chirita.

Consider your personal habits.  Do you tend to neglect your plants and let them wilt, or do you tend to drown your plants in attention and water?  For example, plants like nematanthus are very tolerant of neglect and can live for long periods while wilted.  Streptocarpus are also very tolerant in this way, but wouldn't be a great choice for someone who tends to keep their plants constantly soggy and sitting in water.  Begonias, on the other hand, don't tolerate wilting very well, and would much prefer to be a bit on the wetter side.

Follow the instructions!  Read the brief description of each kind of plant before ordering, so that you know what you're getting into and whether it will be a "good match".  Visit the "culture" pages of this site for more information on care and culture of these plants.  For those interested in African violets and their relatives we strongly recommend subscribing to the African Violet Magazine.  It's a terrific source of information at a very reasonable price.  We enclose basic care information with all orders.

I'm a "collector".  What should I order?

You have some experience growing plants, but would like something different.  You want something that you don't see offered at the local garden center or garden department of the local "Home Depot" or "Wal-Mart". 

You've come to the right place.  We don't pretend to be what we aren't.  Our prices are higher than those at "Home Depot", "Wal-Mart", and like stores.  We make no effort to compete with wholesalers or these large retailers.  What we can offer are plants that can't be easily found elsewhere.  You may find African violets, but not these varieties of violets.  Why?  The unusual nature of the bloom colors, or type of bloom or foliage make our varieties difficult or costly to mass-produce!  We are small, and very labor-intensive (people grow our plants, not machines) We also sell some plants that many mass producers are either unaware of (just introduced to cultivation) or are unwilling to risk putting into large-scale production.

Consider growing some of the other gesneriads.  These are the other members of the plant family including African violets.  All require similar growing conditions, are easy to grow, and most are ready bloomers.  Even for the "collector" there are certain to be some plants offered here that you either haven't seen or, at least, haven't grown before.

Read the variety descriptions.  The photos don't always tell the whole story.  Sometimes what makes the plant different is its foliage (not always pictured) or its growth habit.

I'm an "exhibitor".  What should I order?

If you are a serious grower, have experience in successfully growing plants, and have, or want to, exhibit plants in shows or competitions, you may have some special needs.  We have been seriously exhibiting African violets and other gesneriads since 1975.  We have both judged and exhibited in hundreds of shows and have won numerous awards at local, regional and national levels. 

Read the variety descriptions.  When we say a plant is excellent for show, we say this from personal experience--i.e. we've actually grown this variety successfully for show ourselves.  Most of the photos of showplants seen on this site are of plants that we grew ourselves.  Look for our recommendations.

Don't be fooled by a pretty blossom!  Most often, plants that win "Best in Show" are those varieties that grow quickly, easily, and well and bloom heavily upon demand.  These are often varieties with otherwise "plain" looking flowers.  Sometimes (not always), varieties with very unusual, very exotic-looking, flowers are great as a houseplant or an interesting addition to a collection, but just don't grow perfectly enough to win the big awards.  Again, read the descriptions and trust our judgment and don't always be swayed by a "pretty face".

Tell us this is what you want.  If ordering "seller's choice" plants, tell us that you are interested in "show" plants.  We will try our best to select plants that we suspect will perform well for you.

Get some good advice.  If you are new to exhibiting, we again would strongly recommend subscribing to the African Violet Magazine.  Besides great general information for novice growers, it has great advice and tips for the more "serious" grower. 

I'm ordering these as a gift.  What should I order?

Of course, that depends upon whom you are ordering for.  If that person falls into one of the categories above, you'll want to order plants accordingly. 

Leave the selection to us.  This is best whether the recipient is a novice or an experienced grower.  Let us know, and we'll select plants that we feel are most appropriate.  For novices, or for someone who wants to grow some easy flowering plants, we'll try to select varieties that are good performers and relatively easy to grow.  We'll also try to send the most mature plants possible, since it's important to see a few flowers as soon as the "gift" is opened.  For experienced growers, exhibitors, or collectors, such immediate gratification may be less important, and we'll try to send a greater variety of "unusual" varieties or those that we know make particularly good showplants.

Still confused?  We're here to help.

We won't answer questions sent by mail or e-mail--we just don't have the time or manpower.  We will, however, gladly answer (or at least attempt to) questions made by phone (585-374-8592) during our regular business hours (12-5 pm, EST).  We do ask, though, that you review the site before calling, so that we don't have to repeat information that already appears there.