Ebay for Plants?

savannaicusJanuary 28, 2014

I was just wondering if anyone ever purchases plants off eBay. I know that this time of year isn't the best with the super cold weather for shipping. I always view the auctions but have yet to buy. I was just wondering if anyone ever has and what your experience was with it.

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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Just yesterday I was talking to someone on FB who had just received plants in the mail and they were dead from cold. Not that this has anything to do with ebay specifically, but I wouldn't try to get/send plants in this cold weather, unless/until the forecast along the whole route doesn't include any really cold temps for a few days.

Buying plants online is a line I don't want to cross for a myriad of reasons, though I do love to trade, when the weather is amenable to it.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 11:33AM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Ebay can have some very good deals and also lots of very bad ones.

1) As with any shopping, NEVER give in to an impulse buy. See something you like? Make a note of it and then go online or to your local nurseries and start shopping around. Often you will find similar or better items elsewhere for less. For that matter, many Ebay vendors have online stores separate from Ebay and may actually have the same plant(s) there for less. (I do know a young gent who has an online store but also sells on Ebay. He told me once, when we were chatting about Ebay, that he found it funny that he had had plants sell on Ebay for 3X or more what the person could have bought it for just by going directly to his website.)

2) Check the seller rating and be aware that even a good rating doesn't mean you won't get screwed (doesn't mean you will either).

3) As Tiff mentioned, I would be very leery of getting any plants this time of year with the cold weather.

4) If the deal seems to be "good to be true", it probably is.

5) Be aware that many vendors will show plant photos that are "like" or "similar to" the plant being sold. (Some of the plant photos aren't even of plants the vendor has grown but rather photos he/she has stolen from someone else on the internet.) I have run into a number of folks very disappointed to find the plant they received looked NOTHING like the one(s) in the photos. If you do decide to buy a plant off Ebay -- especially if it is a pricey one -- I would check to see that the actual plant being sold is the one pictured. If not, I would ask the vendor for a photo of the actual plant being sold to me. If they refuse, I would say thank you but you just lost a sale.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 1:08PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Excellent pointers Paul, thanks for posting it.

I've never bought plants on EBay, but if I ever did, I'd check back through your list. Enlightening & helpful, even if only for future use (for me).

I'd never known about Item #5, so if that had happened to me, yep, I'd be pretty peaved! Thx for the headsup!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 2:29PM
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I bought 20 white strawberry plants last summer on ebay, and it was a huge mistake. Alhough it was a "verified seller with 98% positive ratings", the plants arrived in poor condition, moldy, wrapped in newspaper, and none of them survived. Just a waste of money! I would never buy plants from ebay again. Just look at your local nurseries. I don't think ebay is a trustworthy source for plants. Seeds might be okay.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 3:57PM
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Another thing to be mindful of: Often, seeds are offered of specimens whose seeds expire after just a few days, or unrooted cuttings are offered of plants which are not easy to root. It's always worthwhile to research the proper propagation method of any plant that you want to acquire, rather than assume that a seller knows what they are doing.

I generally only buy rooted plants from reputable sellers, with good ratings, who show pictures of the actual plant in question. Following these steps, I've had nothing but good transactions.

It's always a good idea to talk to the sellers, too. Often you'll find they're willing to include a heat pack for a small fee (though I wouldn't advocate shipping houseplants in January, even with a heat pack). Good luck.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 5:16PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

have never bought from EBay but have bought a ton of stuff through the mail The ONLY thing I buy are those that I can't locate at other sources. Recent purchases were some very rare e[piphytes and some rare palms While I got very large healthy looking plants I believe they are mis identified lol Feel I have identified the epi's but jury is still out on the palms Since there is only one member in both the the genus and specie it's either right or totally wrong lol I did locate it at a locol nursery but was a mature plant(400 bucks ) The mail order was 40 total BUT is a seedling , Suspected it to be another genus and every frond was damaged amost sent it back
but kept it because I couldn't identify what it's not lol
Anyway the reason I've never bought on EBay is because I've never found anything I want enough to run the risk.?? Mostly what I've seen can be had from many sources.
I recently bought some long sought after water plants from a nursery in Texas Got great plants price was fantastic But CC was lifted through the internet. 200 dollars was put on it from a food co. in china! lol
So be careful along those lines also!!! gary

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 6:04PM
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Yes, I have purchased off eBay many times. I have rarely had a problem. Maybe I was lucky. Usually the descriptions were accurate. Once, one idiot seller would only accept bank checks (no PayPal, or nothing else). I failed to read the fine print. So, I gave 'neutral' feedback and the idiot seller blocked me from any future purchases. Oh well, his loss for not accepting PayPal. Think the jerk went out of business though.

But, don't order if you are in arctic cold and expect not to have potential issues!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 6:22PM
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I have bought a lot of plants on ebay without any problems. It is a little bit of a risk, but it can be worth it since you can find things on there you won't find elsewhere.
There ARE a lot of scams on ebay, so
I definitely agree that you want to try to stick to sellers who have good reputations. There are a number of sellers on ebay who run regular nurseries/stores and are very professional and reliable. Ask on gardenweb about which sellers people have had good/bad experiences with.
Unless they have already established a good reputation on here, I am especially wary of sellers from overseas since there are many scams based overseas - from my observation many of them originate in China. I even recall seeing posts about someone who received a visit from the USDA because they had bought some corn from China that apparently violated agricultural restrictions.

I probably would not risk shipping a tropical plant during this very severe sub-zero cold that is currently going on. However, if it's only a little bit cold, a lot of sellers will agree to put a heat pack in the package for a couple of dollars extra.

From what I have heard, it seems like the greatest risk of losing the plant is if the delivery is left outside on the porch for a long time, so make sure someone will be able to pick up the package right away when it is dropped off at your home by the delivery company.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 8:25PM
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I too have purchased plants on EBay some big healthy sansevieria, then one from same great seller had a type of fungus. I stopped buying from that person. May have been just a fluke because all the others have done well.
Then a true christmas cactus from a seller with a 100% reputation but what she sent was different than pictured. She said it was a 'better' one....not! I still look but don't buy too often.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 10:27PM
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I registered with Ebay 3/1999. To date I have 370 purchases/stars as an Ebay buyer.

98% of those purchases are plants or plant-related items.

Guess I'm one of the lucky people. So far, I've never left negative feedback, 'maybe I'm too nice, lol,' even when cuttings/plants were not as described.

Some sellers have larger, healthier plants than others. If it wasn't for Ebay, I'd have half the plants I do. Rarer plants not sold here.

Over the years, plants and shipping prices increased, but I've been told, 'by various vendors,' Ebay's charging sellers a lot more money.
However, some sellers charge extreme shipping costs. 15.00-plus for a cutting! No way!!!

Posters here on GW have given you great advice. Follow their instructions if you plan on ordering.

I'd wait before ordering plants or seeds. A reputable seller will not ship now. In fact, I noticed there are far less plants available..

Are you seeking a certain type of plant or just browsing? Toni

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 2:18PM
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I've just recently ordered a few plants from ebay and both where great experiences. They both where succulents that where about 8 dollars each with free shipping and I got very well grown plants that are very healthy and even though they weren't exactly the ones they showed in the pics, they looked just like them. And I got them shipped to me very quick. But this is just from one seller, and I have a lot more plants I want to purchase from them but of course have to wait til spring. The last plant I got a few weeks ago was not smart of me to buy at that time cause of the weather, but I got lucky it didn't suffer any cold damage, but I'm definitely not taking that chance again.

So ebay isn't all terrible, you just need to do some research on the place the plant is coming from and watch for those shipping charges.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 4:56AM
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Hi Flower...How are you?
What type of succulents did you get? Also, what are ?weather conditions like in z6?

Two years ago, I ordered a Hoya from an online nursery. They included a heat pack, 2.00 extra. Problem, the box was rather large, and the heat pack sat on the bottom of the carton. By the time the Hoya arrived, leaves and roots were frozen. Temps were between 20-30F. It's much colder this year, so any thoughts of ordering online has to wait.,..although I doubt I'll be adding new plants anyway.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 1:02PM
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Kind of agree with everyone above- I have never purchased plants off of E-BAY and never would in the winter. In fact a lot of
reputable plant places will hold shipment till the weather is better.
I think E-bay has changed a lot since it first started- you can still occ. get good deals on some things but others have become
ridiculous. Look around first for better pricing. Watch out for those shipping fees. Don't get into one of those crazy bidding things where the bids are a heck of a lot more then the object is worth just to win it.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 6:22PM
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dellis326 (Danny)

I've bought a lot of plants off of eBay. Mostly rooted cuttings but also some potted plants. I've never felt ripped off by anyone. Look at the seller reviews not just the positive/negative rating because sometimes you'll see that someone gave a positive review but left a comment about an issue they had.

Also, Never buy anything sensitive to temperature during extremes in the weather, this goes for the heat as well as the cold, we're all thinking about winter now but inside a box sitting inside a truck with the sun shining on it half a day can easily climb over 100/110f and dry and roast everything.

Pay attention to the shipping charges. There are sellers that will sell stuff really cheap and then jack you over on shipping. This is, or at least was, against eBay's TOS for sellers but some sellers do it anyways. It is not unreasonable to ask the buyer to pay for shipping materials however it is wrong and TOS questionable to profit from shipping

One of the most important things to do is to really read well, the description of the items you want. Often an item is posted with a photo of a nice well grown plant but what is actually for sale is a seedling or cutting. Most sellers will tell you this and some also post a photo of what they will ship out but post the first photo to show what it'll grow into.

There are people that complain about things after they've ignored or overlooked something in the description and got something they weren't expecting. People will also complain about things the seller has no control over. If you buy a plant in the middle of the winter and there is freeze damage, that is not the sellers fault, it's yours. Pay extra for heat pack if available, it won't guarantee anything but you'll increase your chances of receiving healthy plants. Same goes for a box sitting in the sun all day to open cooking your plants waiting for you to get home from work. If a package is crushed it may be lousy packaging or it could be the shipping services fault, that may be hard to discern.

I usually ask, if it isn't offered, that plants be shipped on monday or tuesday with a tracking number. This is to reduce the liklyhood of the plant sitting in a postal/UPS/FedEx warehouse somewhere over the weekend. The tracking number is so I can look up online where the package is.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 7:22PM
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Right on the shipping- I had stuff that wasn't plants left outside my door around Christmas. Luckily it wasn't something that was perishable. Other times it was put inside the outer door which was the most sensible thing to do. Depends I guess on the guy or girl who is dropping it off.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 2:37AM
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Savannaicus, I have often wondered about interstate regulations governing plant shipments; and if ebay purchases are in compliance.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 4:48AM
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Danny, excellent post.

Ronalawn. A few years ago, maybe 10, lol, an Ebay seller got caught shipping citrus to AZ, CA, etc, which is illegal. He/she was fined and got the boot.

I think Ebay is very careful and watchful when it comes to illegal shipping. However, if people find a way to work outside Ebay.............

When I've received plants from other countries, the seller/s shipped legally, with phyto certificate, etc.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 3:08PM
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I've bought two batches of air plants (5 each time) from the same seller off eBay. The first batch was last June. The most recent batch was in the first week of January before it got really cold our way. I knew I was living a little on the edge, so I paid a few extra bucks for a heat pack. I figured that the cost evened out with my bundled shipping anyway, and better safe than sorry. I knew that I'd be home during this time for delivery, so I wasn't worried about the box sitting out in the cold. Both of my eBay shipments were in immaculate condition. All plants were super healthy. I couldn't tell a difference between the quality of the summer and winter deliveries. I wouldn't order during extreme temperatures, but I would buy during winter again from this seller.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 7:11AM
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I've never purchased any live plants on eBay (But I plan on getting some duckweed start soon)
I have however gotten many live plants and cuttings from etsy and I have always been super pleased with the results. It defiantly is a risk to purchase live plants in the cold weather but some sellers offer a 48hr heat pack option or you can possibly wait around for the mail to get there so they are not left outside.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 1:50PM
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I have bought quite a few plants on Ebay. Mostly African violets and other gesneriads. Although I did buy several tillandsias last spring. I checked the weather forecast for both his city and my city before purchasing. It was a little on the cool side, so I ordered a heat pack with them. I have never had a problem purchasing a plant from Ebay. I have never received a plant that was buggy or diseased.

I would say the best thing you can do is look at the sellers negative feedback if there is any. That will give you a very good idea of how the seller handles problems. Remember though, the customer is not always right. There are jerk customers out there and that becomes pretty apparent when they give negative feedback that really doesn't make any sense. Most Ebay shops are very interested in keeping their customer satisfaction percentage high and will work with customers, sometimes bending over backwards, to keep their excellent reputation.

I hope this helps.


    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 4:52AM
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