If you’re one of millions of Americans who shops online or in catalogs, be a savvy buyer with these tips from the Mailorder Gardening Association:
Order early. Because seeds and plants are produced at least a season in advance, quantities are limited.
If you don’t want substitutions, say so. Most mailorder companies substitute a similar item when something is sold out. Usually there’s a place on the order form to check if you prefer no substitutions. If there isn’t, write clearly on the order form that you do not want substitutions.
Keep a record. Keep a detailed list of your purchases (names, item numbers, prices, dates, etc.) so it’ll be easier to talk to the company about your order.
Report problems before it’s too late. There’s usually a cut-off date by which you must notify a company about problems. The date is generally set late enough to allow you plenty of time to observe your plants.