Shop at reputable firms; gather the names of favorite companies from fellow gardeners.
Try to do business with firms that list a phone number that will enable you to reach someone in person.
Make sure you understand the return policy. A money-back guarantee should be clearly stated.
Study the order form carefully for hidden charges.
Don't buy only on the strength of a photograph on the supplier's Web site or catalog. Research the descriptions of your chosen variety — including the color and size of plant and flower — on other reputable sites before buying.
Be alert for descriptors such as “vigorous” or “self-seeds readily.” These plants could be invasive in your area.
Save a copy of your order, and if you’re ordering online, bookmark the pages that describe plant behavior and culture.
Inspect the shipment to see if the plants are in good shape. Many companies will let you choose an approximate delivery day.
If you're not ready to plant when the shipment arrives, open the box and unstack any layers but leave the packing support in place. Then store in a cool, shady area like a garage. Most of the time, holding over a few days is no problem at all.
Soak bare-root plants in water for a few hours or overnight to rehydrate before planting.