US National Arboretum


Plant Sources

Most gardeners have their favorite sources for plants. Some like to shop from home using catalogs. Others prefer to shop on-line. Many want to see what they are buying and frequent local nurseries and garden centers to find the plants they want. Your favorite sources might serve you well for most plants, but if you want to buy something unusual, a bit of detective work might be necessary.

Start by knowing, with as much certainty as possible, the correct name for the plant you are looking for. Find out what the plant's botanical Latin name is, and use this name rather than the common name in your quest. Common names are commonly confused and several different common names exist for some plants while others do not have a common name at all. If you are looking for a particular variety of a given plant species, be sure that you have the correct variety name in hand before you start your search. Even slight differences in spelling might lead you in the wrong direction. If you aren't sure about the name of a plant, try to locate it in your local botanic garden or arboretum, where it is likely to be correctly labeled.

As a start, you may want to contact the Nurserymen's Association in your state. Some states have web sites with searchable databases that include all the plant materials grown by member nurseries. If this is not available, you may be able to send an inquiry to the organization about the availability of a particular plant.

There are some very good web resources that can help you find a particular plant. Some of them are listed here for your convenience. Others may exist, and it may even be worthwhile to use your favorite search engine to locate source for and information about a given plant or group of plants. The Andersen Horticultural Library's Source List of Plants and Seeds is a good reference book that may be available in larger libraries. It contains a listing of all mail order sources for plants and can save a lot of looking in hundreds of catalogs. An on-line version called Plant Information Online can be found at It is a free service of the University of Minnesota Libraries.

The use of trade, firm, or corporation names in this page and linked publications is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by the United States Department of Agriculture of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable.

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Last Updated   August 28, 2012 9:30 AM
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