Although brighter days are on the horizon with a vaccine rollout in full swing and a roadmap to life returning to normal, the horticultural industry has also seen hugely challenging times, first being shut completely during much of the first lockdown last year, before then being allowed to open with a massively reduced footfall in recent months.
According to the latest lockdown guidance, essential retail such as food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies and garden centres can remain open with Covid-secure measures in place, with compulsory face masks and social distancing being required.
This has no doubt been a lifeline for British flower growers, big and small, especially as spring is also the busiest time of the year for garden centres.
The former has been postponed, now running between 21 September to 26 September instead of May and the latter will take place between 6 and 11 July, in keeping with the latest government guidelines.
If you still can’t get to a garden centre while adhering to social-distancing rules, or you’re self-isolating and want some plants and flowers delivered to your door, you can still support garden centres and nurseries by shopping online.
Once you’re all set to get green-fingered, whether you’re a newly converted gardener or been working on your greenery for years, read on for the best nurseries and centres to buy from online, from garden fruit specialists to award-winning, family-run businesses.
You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
Patch Plants is a London based, online garden centre delivery service that was born after founder Freddie Blackett struggled to find plants to decorate his girlfriend's flat when he moved in with her in 2014.
He created Patch Plants as a solution, with the goal of making it easy for everyone to get into gardening. It sources the best plants from suppliers across the UK and delivers them to your doorstep, along with tips and information on how to look after them.
On our shopping list is the Robin plant (from £8, Patchplants.com) It’s a rubber plant that is perfect if every other plant you’ve ever owned died an early death, as it’s low maintenance and if you forget to water it every now and then, it won’t have too much of an impact on its luscious green leaves.
Dobies sells a huge range of plants, seeds, vegetables and flowers for keen gardeners. It also offers a lucky dip box which contains a selection of six vegetables, different in every order, all arriving in 10cm pots, perfect for when you feel like trying something new.
Here's a guide on how to get started with growing your own produce, even if you don't have a garden.
Selling seeds, plants and gardening equipment, Suttons is a one-stop-shop regardless of ability. There is, however, currently a wait of up to two minutes to enter the site, due to high demand.
Alongside its extensive product line up, it has also created a helpful garden planner you can use on your phone or desktop to map out vegetable beds and add plants with tips and advice on getting the most out of your greenery.
As the UK’s leading gardening charity, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has a long history dating back to 1804 and has an extensive range of flowers and plants to shop online.
For something to brighten up your space in the summertime, try the achillea terracotta yarrow (£6.99, Rhdplants.co.uk) for a 9cm pot. Blooming from June until September, this sun-loving plant has flattened flower heads that change from a rich terracotta colour to a soft pastel yellow as they mature over the warmer months.
This garden centre and tea shop in Stoke-on-Trent has reopened, but you can still shop its diverse online library of plants, flowers and trees.
It’s a family-run business that’s more than 50 years old and delivers across the UK.
The deciduous azalea (£24.99, Jacksonsnurseries.co.uk) caught our eye, with its trumpet-shaped orange-yellow blooms. Its vibrant flowers will add colour to any garden and would make a pretty indoor display when put in a vase.
Visiting this nursery’s website will immediately get you inspired, as it’s full of vibrant photos and is handily colour coded so you can find the plants you want with ease.
Offering everything from fruit plants and garden plants to sundries, Hayloft also has a useful tips and tricks section on its website with plenty of gardening advice, from growing guides to how to tackle pests and diseases.
If we had to choose from its range of 3,5000 perennials, we love the helenium sahins (from £2, Hayloft.co.uk) for their unusual bulbous flowers and downward-facing petals in dark reds and burnt oranges. They have a long flowering time through summer to autumn and are good for cutting.
Crocus is one of the biggest online gardening centres in the UK with more 4,000 plant varieties to choose from.
Its website is easy to navigate and has a whole section dedicated to providing tips and inspiration on how to improve your garden.
One of its top picks is the Daphne × transatlantica eternal fragrance (£19.99, Crocus.co.uk), a rare, evergreen plant that produces flowers in spring, summer and autumn. The white from pink buds deliver a heady scent, so this plant is perfect to place near an entrance to impress your guests.
Having partnered up with British Garden Centres at the end of 2019, Garden Store Online offers a huge range of bulbs, seeds, flowers, plant, shrubbery, garden furniture, birdcare, wildlife and compost.
As spring has now arrived, now is the perfect time to start growing your own vegetables.
From tomatoes and chillies to butternut squash, there's something for everyone on this website.
Created by plantswoman Beth Chatto OBE, it's made up of gardens and nurseries, and is based near Colchester, Essex.
While its water, reservoir and gravel gardens, to name a few, are a sight to behold, its online shop houses an equally impressive range of blooms and greenery.
We love the hot pink flowers of this aptly named "eye catcher" tree mallow plant (£6.95, Bethchatto.co.uk). Blooming all the way through summer, this plant loves the sun and grows in light, well-drained soil.
This family-run business specialises in award-winning daffodils grown in Cornwall. Its horticultural collection extends to around 2,500 varieties of tulips, crocus, spring bulbs, muscari and alliums.
We love the ambergate daffodil variety (£6.50, Qualitydaffodils.co.uk), with deep yellow petals and a large orange flower inside. It grows in partial sunlight and shade and would work in beds and borders.
This traditional plant nursery and garden centre is based in the west Midlands, and has a range of plants available online for mail order.
Specialising in heathers, cyclamen, hellebores and hepaticas, its website is easy to navigate and is full of images. We love its lewisias plant (from £3.99, Ashwoodnurseries.com) another award-winning speciality, with delicate flowers in a range of vibrant colours including magenta, apricot and white.
The family-run company, Fibrex Nurseries, in the Warwickshire countryside is home to The National Pelargonium and Hedera Collections, typically on display from May.
While you potter about in your own garden with the extra time on your hands, the ‘my heart’ hedera (£3.50, Fibrex.co.uk), is one we think you should add to your shopping basket. With large leathery leaves in a green hue that grow quickly, it likes climbing plants, walls and tree stumps and is also good for ground cover.
If you’re looking to grow your own, this website is a go-to. Specialists in garden fruit, it offers a range of fruit and nut trees, soft fruit bushes and strawberry plants delivered straight to your door. It’s not all fruit either, the retailer sells vegetables, garden accessories and hedging.
Plump for the best of British strawberry plant collection (£31.50, Pomonafruits.co.uk). If you plant them before the end of July, you’ll be enjoying your first harvest this summer. The bundle consists of 24 plants, some of which are award-winning. It’s currently on offer too.
Inspired by the news that millions of plants are at risk of going to waste due to the closures of garden centres and nurseries during the pandemic, Plant Savers is an online delivery service that rescues plants from British growers and delivers them direct to your door.
As PlantSavers’s sources plants from nurseries that are likely to go to waste, it can’t promise which specific plants you will receive, it instead offers plant bundles that it claims will be worth a lot more than the price point and will arrive undamaged.
It does specify how many plants you will receive in the assortment you choose and their size, and each assortment includes a bag of compost.
This Norfolk-based nursery specialises in classic roses, with a beautiful collection of varieties that are categorised by colour and group on the website. It also sells other plants its experts deem complimentary to roses, from climbers and shrubs to perennials.
We love the amber queen bush rose (£24.95, Classicroses.co.uk), with striking orange blooms that are perfect for brightening up your garden in time for summer. We’re planning a visit to its beautiful gardens once this is all over too.
For more information on updating your garden during lockdown, read our guide on everything you need to create your own herb garden, according to an RHS expert
For the latest discounts on plants and other garden offers, try the links below:
Crocus discount codes
You Garden discount codes