Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2010 3:48 pm
These notes are divided into two sections, one section relates to things we should consider, and the other is what to do if a mistake is made and you receive the wrong plants, or if they are in lousy condition upon delivery. These notes also apply when purchasing plants via eBay.
Things to Consider When Buying Online
Wherever possible, I highly suggest paying for your carnivorous plant orders via PayPal or Credit Cards. Using debit cards or personal checks may leave your money at risk if you find a problem with your order. Most commonly known retailers are very reliable, however there are some shady characters out there who may try to steal your money. If the unthinkable happens, you can contact your credit card issuer and see if they have a fraud protection service which may save your money. From what I have seen, most online retailers use PayPal for their transactions.
Delivery Time & Its Effects
This is a really important thing you need to take into consideration; in fact it may be one of the most important things we all need to remind ourselves of once in a while. Delivery may take its toll on a plant's health and so delivery times are key. If you can get fast delivery times, your plants will likely be happier when they arrive. I respect we all have budgets, but please remember when ordering online that delivery will only be as fast as the mailmen/mailwomen, courier and air mail services (if ordering from abroad) allows. If for some reason there is a delay, remember that the box you are eagerly awaiting contains a living organism, and that organism needs light and water. Imagine being plucked from your bed, wrapped in wet tissue paper and packed up tightly in a box with no food, light or air for a few days: how would you feel? Obviously, if your plants arrive in good time and lousy condition you have every right to be upset.
There has been the odd question here or there relating to what season is best to order carnivorous plants online in. It's all down to personal preference: would you sooner buy dormant plants and watch them burst into life during the growing season? Would you like to buy plants that are already out of dormancy? In my opinion it can be beneficial buying a dormant plant so you can learn how quickly or slowly it comes out of dormancy and so it can adjust to new growing conditions after coming out of dormancy, instead of having its growth temporarily slowed due to acclimatising during the peak growth season. I do know of those who prefer non-dormant plants, too. The following information is relating to the state of plants during the different growing seasons.
- Spring (start of the growing season): Non-tropical carnivorous plants (dionaea, sarracenia, darlingtonia and some drosera) are starting to come out of dormancy
- Summer (peak of the growing season): All plants are enjoying the growing season and repotting now may slow down growth for a brief period
- Autumn (growing season coming to a close): Some plants will gradually start going dormant as autumn progresses
- Winter (dormant season): Many non-tropical carnivorous plants should or will soon be dormant
It also pays to consider what species of carnivorous plant you are ordering when deciding what season to purchase it in. Take highland nepenthes, for example: they grow year-round and require high levels of light to thrive. If you have artificial lighting at home that is sufficient you can order a nepenthes any time of the year with confidence, but if you do not have artificial lighting for the winter or a substitute yet, it may be better to wait until light levels increase in spring or summer.
Remember that dormant or semi-dormant plants (except mexican pinguicula) may appear smaller than advertised with little to no new growth. This is one of the downsides of ordering dormant plants: you cannot tell if they are dormant or in bad health until the spring.
As with seasons, temperatures should be considered when ordering carnivorous plants online. Tropical species of plants (nepenthes and heliamphora for example) do not have a dormancy period and so long periods of exposure to cold temperatures may damage them; the same goes for plants who prefer to stay cool (darlingtonia are a good example, they like having cool roots). If you choose to order a tropical species during the colder months of the year, see if you can get a heat pack with shipping; if you are ordering plants during the warmer months and are worried they may over-heat, prepare lots of water and a cool environment for them for when they arrive.
When ordering from one country/union to another, permits are required. I wrote a brief article regarding permits that can be found here; many users on the forums have also donated information so we may all better understand this complex system. Now, regardless of what a store may say (this goes doubly for eBuyer sellers) you will require a permit by law if:
- Plants are being sent from the US to any other country
- Plants are being sent from the EU (European Union) to any other country
- Plants are being sent from any country outside the US or EU to any other country, including the US and all EU countries
If plants are sent from one country to another without permits (if required) the plants may be confiscated and even destroyed. This would mean you lose money. If someone claims they can send plants from one country (or union) to another without permits, double and triple check online – the person may be trying to scam you.
Seed orders are generally easy to make and manage; they do not require import permits, however some species may be considered illegal in certain countries, so you need to do your homework before buying species from abroad. It's also important to highlight that when shipping seeds abroad, a declaration on the package that describes the contents may be required (this is usually the case when sending seeds from the states to the UK, for example). There are a few other things that need to be remembered when making seed orders online.
- Viability: Seeds are only viable (if seeds are viable it basically means they will germinate) for an amount of time. The amount of time they remain viable varies depending on the species of carnivorous plant seed you order and a variety of other factors (how they were stored, for example). When purchasing from an online store, seed viability may be guaranteed and stores will usually stock fresh seed (or seed from the previous growing season).
An important point I feel I need to make is regarding purchasing carnivorous plant seeds via eBay sellers: some eBay sellers are actually carnivorous plant retailers (such as Matt & Steve) and choose to sell some stock on eBay; other sellers may be carnivorous plant enthusiasts who are not retailers, but have acquired some seed they wish to sell. When it comes to buying seeds from eBay from sellers you cannot guarantee their viability (except from trusted retailers) so caution should be taken. I say this because I have read of users who have received seed that simply did not germinate and although this could be due to all sorts of different reasons, I wanted to raise this point.
It’s recommended that you check the date of which the seeds were harvested before dedicating yourself to purchasing seeds online; with most online stores I have visited the harvest date (or year) is openly displayed, usually eBay users will also display a rough date of when the seed was harvested but if you cannot find a date then it may be wise to email the seller or retailer and ask when the seed was harvested before committing to anything, this may help you get the most of out your seeds. The fresher the seeds, the more viable they are.
Unfortunately, it seems that sometimes a seller may advertise carnivorous plant seed but in fact send you something non-carnivorous. I'm not saying this is always the case or that it is intentional, but it pays to research the appearance of the seed you are buying prior to the purchase so that you know exactly what to look for when the seed arrives.
One of the most important things to remember about seeds is that every carnivorous plant that grows from seed will be genetically unique. You may buy some seeds labelled as B52 seeds, but the plantlets that grow will not be "pure B52" plants, although they may share some traits (such as large traps). The only way to get a true B52 is via tissue culture and/or propagation of leaves, root cuttings etc. In theory it's the same as you and me: we come from an adult but are not genetically the same, but if the adult had an arm removed and stuck in "human tissue culture" the eventual product would be genetically identical. Please note this is valid for all species of carnivorous plants, I am simply using the B52 venus fly trap as an example.
List of online carnivorous plant suppliers