The 11 Best Nurseries for Finding Unique Plants Online

I thought I would take you inside my design notebook to give you a glimpse of where we will be looking for new plants for the gardens at Coastal Maine Botanic Garden. Over the winter, we are working on a full slate of garden redesigns and planting enhancements, as most gardeners do in the off season. Throughout the summer, I walked the gardens with our garden staff and made notes on strong combinations and weak planting pockets. We are taking this list of improvements back into the office now that the ground is frozen and we are cross-referencing it with the growing lists of cool plants coming onto the market.

If you are doing the same, these are some of the top nurseries that we (the pros) are using to refine our wishlists of plants and nail down our improvements and plant orders for next spring.

the 11 best nurseries for finding unique plants online

The top nurseries for finding unique plants online:


Rarefind Nursery – this mail-order nursery from New Jersey probably has one of the best selections of unusual woody plants for the mid-Atlantic and New England. I will make a lengthy list of flowering trees and shrubs from Rarefind.

Broken Arrow Nursery – Broken Arrow is a Connecticut institution founded by Richard Jaynes that was made famous with all of his mountain laurel introductions. Broken Arrow, like Rarefind, specializes in extremely unusual shrubs and small trees (as well as mountain laurels).

Landcraft Environments – Landcraft is the go-to nursery for unusual tropical plants for the mid-Atlantic and New England. They are located on Long Island and have become synonymous for over-the-top, wow annuals. We bought a truck load of plants from Landcraft for the gardens this past summer. When the plants arrived in late May, our staff oohed and aahed over them.

Opus Plants – Opus is a craft “nano-nursery” in Little Compton, Rhode Island that specializes in perennials you cannot find anywhere else.

Van Berkum Perennials – If you are looking for top-notch, wholesale perennials for New England, Van Berkum in New Hampshire is the place. Everybody you meet that works at Van Berkum is nice, knowledgable and polite. Plus, their plants are beautiful and they will not ship them until they are perfect.

Plant Delights Nursery – There are just some things that you cannot get anywhere other than at Plant Delights. Owner, Tony Avent is always on the search for new and unusual perennials. The catalog that Tony writes each year can be pretty funny, if not irreverent.

Camellia Forest Nursery – Camellia Forest came to fame with their hardy camellias. Today, they not only offer camellias, but also offer unusual woody and perennial plants.

Far Reaches Farm – This nursery from Washington State sells a lot of plants that we would love to try but just cannot buy here on the east coast. We have ordered quite a few plants for the gardens at CMBG that have done quite well in our Maine environment.

Annie’s Annuals and Perennials – If I am having a hard time finding a certain plant, I will ultimately see if this California nursery has it in stock. Most of the time, they will have it. Their plant offerings are quite impressive.

Pine Knot Farms – Pine Knot is the place to go for hellebores. Owners, Dick and Judith Tyler are two of the nicest people you could ever meet.

Fedco Seeds – For vegetable plants and fruit trees, this Maine based company is the one to look to for the New England vegetable garden. Along with Fedco Seeds, we also check for availability from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

And if you are looking for new containers (so you can grow more stuff!) – these are the two companies that we love.

Lunaform Pots – If you ever want a one of a kind planting pot that will last forever, this Maine based company hand makes each pot using a custom process that protects them from cracking in frost.

Campania International – A Lunaform pot is a work of art but if we need a lot of pots for a massing, Campania International has some outstanding pots to use in the garden. They are not frost-proof so they will need to be protected each winter.


Are there other nurseries on your list that you think we should check out as well? What are some of your favorite places to buy plants and containers?

image: Sanguisorba ‘Midnight child’ – Available from Opus Plants

– Rodney

Spread the love
  • 4


BACK ISSUES of P+V Newspaper Are Available in the FREE Resource Library

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Get A Prettier, More Organized Garden in 10 Days


Get your garden in shape so you can enjoy some peaceful & nourishing time in your own piece of the great outdoors.

Sign Up Now!

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Join the 10-day Garden Design Challenge

container garden collage by rochelle greayer

Let's get your garden in shape so you can enjoy peaceful & nourishing time in your own piece of the great outdoors.

Sign up below to get started:

rodney eason

Rodney Eason - Director of Horticulture and Plant Curator at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, father of 4, husband to a Renaissance woman. I spent the first part of my life in North Carolina, the middle in Pennsylvania, and now I am determined to become a Mainer  while keeping my southern drawl. I consider the rhetorical question, "you're not from around here, are you?" a compliment. I love great gardens, beautiful plants, and inspiring architecture. Because of this, I am on a lifelong quest to find a garden that artistically combines beautiful plants while being centered around an evocative building. For me, this would be Beatrix Farrand's Dumbarton Oaks, with the plants of Lotusland and Chanticleer, around Fay Jones' Thorncrown Chapel. My wife and I are now making our new home and garden in a 130 year old New England house with a farmer's porch near the Damariscotta River in coastal Maine. When our kids get into college, we want to hike the Appalachian Trail as a family over a summer break. My likes (in random order): the smell of fresh basil and rosemary, bold foliage, India Pale Ale, good running shoes, Top Gear, the smell of New England in the fall (it reminds me a bit of English Leather, which my grandfather wore), and the sound of our family laughing together around the dinner table. I dream of one day owning an old Toyota 4X4 pick-up and seeing the Avett Brothers in concert.
Posted in


  1. commonweeder on December 13, 2013 at 9:20 am

    This is a great list. Thank you so much for the links. Dreaming time is almost here.

  2. Amy Murphy on December 19, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    This is a terrific list of nurseries! I have used many of them, but it is always fun and helpful to learn of others.

  3. Holly Whiteside on August 5, 2018 at 10:19 am

    Thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is exactly what i needed. I am working in a community garden and I am trying to establish a “medicinal herb bank”,,, beds where medicinal herbs are kept and propagated so that the community may pick or one day, even get plants to put into their own gardens. There are many plants I need to source that are more difficult to find. I will have fun exploring the nurseries on your list!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.