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At North Shore Plant Club, we deliver plants every couple of weeks from April through October. Each order has a slightly different "cast" of nurseries, including some local favorites from whom we order nearly every time (so you'll almost always find over 1000 types of plants including all the standard stuff) in addition to a rotating cast of guest nurseries which offer other seasonally appropriate or unique plants. From week to week, we might have nurseries specializing in native plants, spring or fall annuals, groundcovers, trees, and more.
We save energy and money by only opening for a few days at a time. We figure out what plants are available, invite club members to choose (usually Thursday to Sunday) what they want, tally up the purchases, and make arrangements with the nurseries. The plants come the following week, we sort them out, get them to you, and we get the site going again for another round of plant goodness!
We created the calendar below to give club members a sense of what we are planning to order (and when!) this year. Things may change based on nursery availability, growing conditions, and our fickle nature. But hopefully this will help you think ahead about when those unusual plants you want might be available.
We look forward to helping you make your garden great!
The best time to buy plants depends on a few things: the kinds of plants you're looking for, when they're most available from the nurseries, the weather, and when you have time to put them into the ground.
Replanting is stressful for plants, so it tends to be easier (on you and them) when the weather is not exceptionally hot and dry. Container-grown perennials can be successfully added at any time as long as you get them into the ground quickly and water them regularly until they are established, but September, October, May and June are the best months to plant most container-grown perennials. Those months also tend to be nice for working in the garden!
Kind of Plants
When They're Most Available...
Annuals (or tender perennials grown as annuals) are used to fill in temporary gaps in the landscape early and late in the season and for fantastic color in the heat of the summer. Some annuals (like Pansies) are quite cold-tolerant and can be planted in April in Chicagoland. Others are tropical and tender, and shouldn't go in the ground until the weather is warmer.
The best time to reserve a great selection of spring annuals is not when you'd think... It's actually while the nurseries are still growing them in greenhouses in mid to late winter. At that time, the plant club can pre-order over a thousand varieties! In May, when everyone is thinking about annuals, those plants have already moved to retail nurseries, so what we can get direct from wholesale nurseries is more limited. Similarly, there are more choices of mums and fall annuals in August.
Perennials are longer-term investments that will make your yard look nice for years to come.
As a group, perennials are at peak availability to the club between May and October. During those months, we'll be making orders from many perennial nurseries a couple of times a month, and there might be nearly 2000 types of perennials available in sizes ranging from big to small! You don't have to buy perennials while they're blooming (they'll get around to it soon enough), but since garden centers make more money selling plants with beautiful flowers, availability from the wholesale nurseries with whom we work peaks just before a plant's typical bloom period.
We try very hard to source exactly what you’d like, but sometimes growers run out of plants! While this variety is a great deal at the price shown, we know that it has limited availability. If you want the plant even if it might be more expensive, or in a different size or quantity -- after you place your order, just send us a quick note at email@example.com. Then, we’ll try to get you some version of this from one of our growers. And if we can’t get it from anywhere, of course, we’ll send a refund!
Plants which are well-adapted to our local climate are most often field-grown (outside). Field-grown plants are generally cheaper and have the advantage of already somewhat acclimated to our cold winters, but that means they’re not artificially far along in the spring and tend to bloom at the normal time in our area.
Spring annuals and tender perennials are typically grown in Greenhouses so they can be ready and luxurious exactly when customers want them. Some perennials are also “forced” into early bloom in greenhouses. In May, there can be a very big difference between field-grown and greenhouse-grown plants of the same type. The latter typically look good right away (so they’re a great choice where that’s important), but we typically pay a premium for it.
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Membership is free, but — since we rely on delivery and local pick-up — you have to live near one of our hubs (or be willing to drive to a site to pick them up). If you live farther away, and would like to help us bring the club to your neighbors, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.