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Plantgem

  • Value: 19/20
  • Plant Health and Quality: 20/20
  • Packaging and Shipping: 18/20
  • Expert Guidance/Care Instructions: 13/20
  • Real-World Performance: 18/20
TOTAL: 88/100

Some people collect stuff; I collect plants. I’m never happier than when digging in the dirt or shopping for new plants for my garden. While there are tons of companies offering plants by mail, Plantgem distinguishes itself by offering curated, trendy plant picks. The company sells live plants, bulbs, tubers and seeds with a twist: Their offerings include unusual varieties you can’t find just anywhere, especially not at your local garden center.

If you’re starting a garden from scratch, Plantgem offers kits of 15 plants of five different varieties designed for planting in for 2’ x 4’ or 3’ x 5’ spaces. These kits include fun, creative themed options to reflect your personal style, such as a black and white garden, dye garden, and even gardens for each Zodiac sign. You also can purchase individual plants, bulbs and seeds.

I chose the perennial garden kit because you get more bang for your buck, since perennials return year after year. The kit includes three plants each of: Carnation Spooky, Coreopsis Crème Caramel, Eryngium Blue Glitter, Scabiosa Fata Morgana and Algerian Ivy. These are all lovely, unique varieties that are not widely available.

plantgem review packaging
ARRICCA ELIN SANSONE

Packaging and shipping:

The plants shipped automatically at the appropriate planting time for my USDA Hardiness zone. Shipping was quick, and the plants were packaged neatly in plastic clamshells for protection. They arrived a little jostled with some soil dislodged, but they were otherwise intact. I removed them from the containers and gave them a drink. Because the forecast called for temperatures wildly fluctuating between freezing and boiling the next few days, I didn’t want to stress the baby plants out after their long trip, so they lounged indoors by a sunny window for a few days before planting.

Plant health and quality:

I was impressed by the size and health of the plants. They were green, sturdy with unbroken stems, and larger than those you’d get at the garden center in those little six packs. The 2.5-inch “pots” are a fine, fibrous material, which is great because you plant the whole thing without disturbing the roots.

plantgem review unboxing
ARRICCA ELIN SANSONE

Expert guidance/ care instructions

Each plant is identified on its clamshell, which has a scannable QR code for care tips, but that’s not a convenient option once you pull the plants out of their packaging. Individual plants are not labeled and some of the young plants look very similar, which can be confusing when it’s time to plant. I also wish they provided plant tags to identify what I’ve planted where in my garden beds.

I needed to fit these plants into one of my existing mixed borders, so I had to pay attention to the suggested heights and spacing of my new baby plants so my mature plants wouldn’t overwhelm them. But because the company does not provide printed informational cards (as many other plant companies do), I had to keep toggling back and forth between plant descriptions on my phone to check heights and spacing. Super annoying.

To be fair, the company urges you to text or email them at any time if you have questions—plus, you can book a garden consult for personalized attention. But one of the reasons I garden is to unplug, not spend more time on my phone or a video call.

Another grumble is that this particular kit is listed as a perennial garden, which will “grow everywhere in the USA, perennial zones 2-11.” However, one of the plants (scabiosa) isn’t perennial in my zone, while a second is borderline hardy (Algerian ivy). Finally, there’s some inconsistency in descriptions; the product page for Carnation Spooky says it’s mildly toxic to dogs, while the perennial garden kit product page says the plants (which includes Carnation Spooky) are non-toxic. That could be a problem if you have a curious dog who likes to graze—and I do!

plantgem review new growth
ARRICCA ELIN SANSONE

Real-world performance:

After 10 days in the ground, most of the plants were pushing new top growth. Some had doubled in size! But because perennials typically don’t take off until their third season, I’ll have to withhold judgment on their long-term performance. For now, I’m satisfied they have a good start in life.

PLANTGEM

Value:

The current cost of the perennial kit is $120, which means each plant costs about $8 a pot, plus shipping. That’s a pretty good deal for perennials, which are typically more expensive than annuals that only last one season. Individual plants are offered in packs of three at the same price point. However, as noted, not all the plants included in my perennial kit are winter-hardy in my zone, so that’s a bit of a letdown. I didn’t test the seeds or bulb kits, but they seem like a good value as well and are priced competitively with other plant companies.

Although Plantgem has a few wrinkles in their expert guidance, presentation of their plant info and product descriptions, they do offer beautiful, quality plants, especially if you’re looking for something other than the same-old, same-old.

TRY IT OUT (STARTING AT $6)

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