Is It Safe To Order Garden Supplies: How To Safely Receive Plants In The Mail

Is it safe to order garden supplies online? Although it’swise to be concerned about package safety during quarantines, or any timeyou’re orderingplants online, the risk of contamination is actually very low.

The following information will help keep you and your familysafe.

Is it Safe to Order Garden Supplies?

The U.S. Postal Serviceand the World Health Organization (WHO) haveannounced that there is very little risk that an infected person cancontaminate commercial goods, even when the package is shipped from anothercountry.

The chance that COVID-19 will be carried on a package isalso low. Due to shipping conditions, the virus is unlikely to survive for morethan a few days, and one study by the NationalInstitutes of Health indicated the virus may survive on cardboard for nomore than 24 hours.

However, your package may be handled by several people, andhopefully nobody coughed or sneezed on the package before it arrived at yourhouse. If you’re still concerned, or if somebody in your family is in ahigh-risk group, there are extra steps you can take when ordering plants in themail. It never hurts to be careful.

Handling Garden Packages Safely

Here are some precautions you should take when receivingpackages:

  • Wipe the package carefully with rubbing alcohol or an antibacterial wipe before opening.
  • Open the package outdoors. Dispose of the packaging safely in a closed container.
  • Be careful about touching other items, such as pens used to sign for the package.
  • Wash your hands immediately, with soap and water, for a minimum of 20 seconds. (You can also wear gloves to pick up delivered plants in the mail).

Delivery companies take extra steps to keep their drivers,and their customers, safe. However, it’s always a good idea to allow a distanceof at least 6 feet (2 m.) between yourself and delivery people. Or simply havethem place the package(s) near your door or other outside area.

Don’t worry—it’s still safe to order stuff online during the coronavirus outbreak

Here's how to keep yourself and your packages germ-free.

Credit: Getty Images

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Thanks to recent research, you know that coronavirus can stay on surfaces for up to three days. And while you may have disinfected every countertop, doorknob, and toilet seat in your home as a result, there's another surface you may not have considered: your packages.

Chances are high that you're getting more packages delivered now more than ever (Amazon certainly comes in handy during a self-quarantine). But in light of all the latest reports, should you be worried about said packages bringing coronavirus into your home? Probably not, according to experts. Here's what you need to know about ordering online during the coronavirus outbreak and how to keep yourself—and your packages—safe.

Seeds and Plants are Selling Fast—Here’s Where to Get Them

Tired of binging on Netflix or cleaning out your closet? Try your hand at growing something!

Every year in early spring, people start buying seeds and daydreaming of warmer days ahead. But last year was a little different. After the national emergency was declared in mid-March, seed and plant sales skyrocketed as people turned to gardening in record numbers. And it's no wonder: Growing things is a family-friendly way to get outdoors and make productive use of your space—whether you have a big yard or just a planter box on your deck.

Many retailers reported 2 to 3 times their normal sales volume, or increases of 250% in a matter of days! For example, Burpee sold more seeds last March than at any other time in its 144-year history. And now that people have caught the gardening bug, there's no sign that things are slowing down. Burpee reports that the heightened demand has persisted this year and even grown beyond the level experienced last year. Plant sellers also have increased resources to keep up with the surge. Some growers report a 200 percent increase over the same period last year!

In a way, our new-found love of plants (both indoors and out!) has been the silver lining in a very dark year for all of us.

It's fun to shop local nurseries for plants because you can see and touch everything, but you also can find an excellent selection of seeds and plants online without ever having to leave home. And sometimes, online retailers are the only ones who carry a specific type of plant you want. They're also a good option if you want to start seeds indoors early.

Here are some of the best places to buy seeds and plants online:

Botanical Interests

What they sell: More than 600 varieties of seeds, including heirloom and organic types of vegetables, flowers, and herbs. The seed packets (with gorgeous illustrations!) have detailed instructions for planting, growing, and harvesting—super-helpful for newbie gardeners.

Grower tip: “Vegetables need full sun, which is 6 or more hours. Start with a few pots or a small bed,” says Curtis Jones, co-founder of Botanical Interests. “You’re not going to survive solely on what you grow if it's your first attempt, but it will make a difference, and it will bring you joy.”

The Burpee Company

What they sell: A gigantic array of seeds and live plants including vegetables, herbs, perennials, fruits, flowers, and garden products such as seed starting kits. Leaf through the digital catalog to get ideas, or read tons of helpful tips in the Garden Advice section.

Grower tip: “Gardening has an emotional connection,” says George Ball, chairman of The Burpee Company. “You can get reacquainted with your yard and learn to experience it in a new dimension.”


What they sell: An array of vegetable and flower seeds, bulbs, and plants, as well as tools and indoor growing products.

Grower tip: “New gardeners should stick with seeds that can be directly sown into a raised bed or container after the last frost date in your area,” says Marissa Verdi, brand manager with GardenTrends. “Beans, leafy greens, or a compact squash variety are all good choices.”

Johnny’s Seeds

What they sell: A massive selection of seeds including flowers, herbs, and vegetables, plus gardening tools and supplies. Their chief market is commercial farmers, but home gardeners will find an incredible amount of detailed planning and growing information on the site, including indoor seed starting dates and fall planting times.

Grower tip: “Leaf lettuce, radishes and spinach are a nice trio that will provide a satisfying salad within about a month of your sowing date,” says Joshua D’Errico, marketing coordinator with Johnny’s Seeds. “Lettuce and herbs also can be grown indoors with a grow light. And sprouts such as alfalfa can be enjoyed in a matter of days without sunlight or a grow light.”

Park Seed

What they sell: A vast selection of flowers, veggies, herbs, and fruit plants and seeds, as well as supplies such as fertilizer and plant supports. Read through the Garden Learning Center for detailed advice on specific edibles.

Grower tip: “Gardening is a great way to connect with kids and get them interested in how things grow,” says Kelly Funk, president of J & P Park Acquisitions, Inc., which includes Park Seed. “Try easy-to-grow things like greens. They’re not as temperamental as some other vegetables, and they grow fast.”

Proven Winners

What they sell: Tried-and-tested live plants including annuals, perennials, and shrubs including many varieties that are reblooming, more cold-tolerant, and more disease-resistant. Their new edibles line includes tomatoes, peppers, basil, and strawberries. Seeds also are available for some veggies if you want to start them yourself.

Grower tip: “Don’t be afraid to try something new, even if you only have a small space such as your balcony,” says Jeanine Standard, media and public relations with Proven Winners. “Gardening is about nurturing, which we all need during stressful times.”

Territorial Seed Company

What they sell: Vegetable, herb, and flower seeds and plants. The Growing Guides contain tons of useful info for when to plant and how to grow the most common edibles.

Grower tip: “Local food security starts in your own back yard,” says Tom Johns, co-founder with his wife, Julie, of Territorial Seed Company. “Start with something that will give you the most bounty for your efforts, such as bush beans, which are prolific so that you can freeze the extras.”

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How to use this guidance

This document sets out guidance on how to open workplaces safely while minimising the risk of spreading COVID-19 . It gives practical considerations of how this can be applied in the workplace.

Each business will need to translate this into the specific actions it needs to take, depending on the nature of their business, including the size and type of business, how it is organised, operated, managed and regulated. They will also need to monitor these measures to make sure they continue to protect visitors and workers.

This guidance does not supersede any legal obligations relating to health and safety, employment or equalities, and it is important that as a business or an employer you continue to comply with your existing obligations including those relating to individuals with protected characteristics. It contains non-statutory guidance to take into account when complying with these existing obligations. When considering how to apply this guidance, take into account agency workers, contractors and other people, as well as your employees.

Members Helping Members - Retailers on Floral: What’s Changed? What’s Selling? Collaboration! (July 29)

It’s been a very bumpy ride for floral since COVID-19 turned the world upside down, but retailers believe and data shows sales moved to the positive starting in May 2020. Though sales took a significant hit early in the pandemic, Mother’s Day seemed to be the turning point, and sales trends now were positive for some key items through summer 2020.

During a recent PMA Floral Roundtable and subsequent online interviews, we asked floral retailers their thoughts on the current situation and the future of floral retail marketing. Optimistic voices noted the desire for healthier homes, celebration opportunities, and general well-being and happiness as reasons for the turn. Here’s what they had to say.

Etsy is doing very well during the pandemic

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After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested that all Americans start wearing face masks to be around other people, masks got pretty hard to find. A lot of shoppers turned to Etsy, the marketplace better known for selling bespoke crafts.

Etsy reported earnings this week and it said it sold more than 12 million masks last month, totaling $133 million. And people are buying other things there that they can’t get elsewhere, like garden plants and seeds, sewing materials and kitchen supplies. The question is, can Etsy keep all those customers once the pandemic ends?

I spoke with Josh Silverman, the CEO of Etsy, and asked him where all those masks came from. The following is an edited transcript of our conversation.

Josh Silverman (Photo courtesy of Etsy)

Josh Silverman: At the beginning of April, the CDC changed its guidelines and recommended that Americans wear fabric face masks. All of a sudden, we saw an explosion of demand, literally overnight, on Etsy. We put out a call to our sellers, saying, “Hey, if you have a sewing machine, please start making masks.” Within two weeks, we had 20,000 sellers making masks, and in fact, now we have 60,000 sellers who’ve made and sold masks. When you buy a mask from them, you’re really helping them out. Etsy could go from zero to hundreds of thousands of masks in days, just because of the dynamism of the Etsy seller base.

Molly Wood: Is there any precedent for asking sellers for something specific? Is it usual at all for you to use your incoming data to inform sellers about what might do well?

Silverman: I can’t think of a time that we’ve had a surge of demand for one specific product that was so strong that we needed to do a “calling all sellers” in this way. There are all kinds of product categories that are selling really well in Etsy today that didn’t even exist a month ago. For example, there are sellers that are creating pocket hugs. This is like a trinket that you send to someone you love to give them a virtual hug and let them know that you’re thinking of them. That’s one of thousands of examples of products that our sellers have created that create whole new categories kind of out of thin air.

Wood: Clearly, there’s a lot of inbound on the customer side. Is there also a lot of inbound on the seller side? Have you had a lot of people signing up to sell on the platform?

Silverman: We certainly have. We’ve had twice as many new shops open in the month of April as we did April one year ago. That feels great to us. The opportunity to be able to provide meaningful income to many, many people at a time when they’re feeling a lot of economic stress is a purpose that we all at Etsy hold really dear to our hearts.

Wood: How do you vet new sellers?

Silverman: Anyone with creativity and 20 cents can open a shop on Etsy. We think we are the easiest, fastest path to entrepreneurship. By the way, 86% of our sellers are women, 91% are businesses of one, working from their home. One woman with a sewing machine from her home can create a global business and sell to the world. We love having a very low barrier to entry so that we can provide economic opportunity for many people. For that seller to succeed, she’s got to create a really good product, she’s got to take good photos, it’s got to be a product that people want. She’s got to earn gaining prominence in our search engine, which means that buyers have to like it, and buyers have to leave good reviews and it’s that ecosystem and positive feedback loop that allows the seller to gain more and more prominence in our search engine and then sell more and more product. We also screen the site very carefully using both automated filters and community flags for things like fraud or intellectual property violations. We have a large and really dedicated team in trust and safety that’s making sure that we have a really safe marketplace.

Wood: Tell me more about that because I could imagine that this is a time when scammers and fraudsters are attempting to also capitalize on interest and in some cases, desperation. How hard is that team working right now?

Silverman: Yeah, unfortunately, it is true that whenever there is a crisis, there will be bad actors that step in. Fortunately, the vast majority of people are really honest, but there are always bad actors. The trust and safety team is working 24/7 right now, no doubt, to keep the marketplace clean. I’m proud to say that all of the metrics suggest that Etsy stays a very safe and very clean marketplace. We have, over the past 14 years, developed automated filters that can very quickly flag suspicious listings or suspicious sellers and then have them go over for review. We’ve got millions and millions of buyers on the site every day, and they’re able to flag things very quickly for review that our team can screen those as well.

Wood: Clearly, you’re prioritizing certain categories now. Are you deprioritizing others? Do you have sellers who are saying, “Hey, I’ve all of a sudden lost a bunch of traffic here”?

Silverman: We don’t prioritize, but the marketplace does. You’ll see demand surge in some areas and decline in others. Right now would be a really big time for weddings, and Etsy sells such a great array of everything from engagement rings to bridal gifts to stationery and table cards and everything for the wedding. Right now that category is obviously very hard hit. Wedding-related items are down more than 50% year over year. But so many other categories are surging, particularly home furnishing and things that allow you to nest or make your home feel more cozy, and then activities and things to do at home, like crafts and games and self-care. Also, gifting is doing superwell on Etsy right now. The opportunity to send a care package or something to let a loved one know that you’re thinking about them. Those are all categories that are surging.

Wood: In your earnings call, the guidance, as with almost every company that has reported earnings, was uncertain for the future. How do you think you keep people coming back?

Silverman: We guided for only the second quarter, and what we said is we think that sales on the Etsy platform are going to grow between 80% and 100%, which we feel great about, but to your point, it’s very uncertain and that’s a very broad range to be giving, given that there’s only two months left in the quarter. We think that this is a moment when more and more people are turning to Etsy. We know that. The data shows people who’ve never shopped on Etsy, or people who haven’t been back in a while or haven’t been back very often, are suddenly coming to Etsy, and they’re coming to Etsy a lot more often. In fact, we shared that we had 6.5 million buyers, who are either first-time buyers or lapsed buyers, come back to Etsy in April. All of our data shows that they’re having a really good experience, that they’re delighted by the products they’re buying. We work really hard to earn their loyalty so that they’ll continue to form a habit shopping on Etsy in the months and years to come.

Wood: Do you think that your brand may evolve or shift as a result of this? Might people start to see Etsy as essential in a different way?

Silverman: We’re doing a lot of television advertising right now. Our TV ads are really featuring our sellers and told through the voice of our sellers, but there’s three messages in those TV ads. A) Etsy is open for business. B) When you support Etsy, you’re supporting small, independent business people. And C) Etsy is a place to go for everyday supplies. That last item is particularly, I think, maybe disruptive to how some people think about Etsy. They think about Etsy as special. Now, we’ve got that opportunity to prove to them that we can do that, and they’re coming to us for all kinds of everyday items that are available. I really hope that both through our brand messaging and through the actual experience on the site, people are going to learn that you can come to Etsy every day for everyday items and have a really great experience.

Wood: I will say, I went to Etsy and searched for toilet paper, just out of curiosity, and it was all reusable toilet paper, which might be a little too special.

Silverman: Yeah, but there’s all kinds of, let’s say, baking supplies, parchment paper that you would use for a baking project you can buy anywhere. On Etsy, the parchment paper will come with your grandmother’s recipe printed on it so that when you and your kids are doing a baking project together, your grandmother can be part of that project, even if she’s not with you physically. It’s that kind of thing that I think can inject special into what otherwise feels like an everyday item.

Wood: But the brand is not going to shift so much that you start selling toilet paper. Like that just wouldn’t be right?

Silverman: We’re never going to sell mass-produced items. We’re always going to sell items that are made just for you and where you have a direct connection with the person who actually made it. You can have that kind of special, you can have that kind of human connection even in everyday purchases.

The pandemic has changed what people shop for on Etsy. The site now has 60,000 sellers who’ve made and sold face masks. (Photo courtesy of Etsy)

Related links: More insight from Molly Wood

One thing Etsy sellers were not happy about before this pandemic started was its ad program in which the company started placing ads for products from its sellers on sites like Google, Facebook and Instagram. It neither asked sellers if they wanted the ads, nor did it let them immediately opt out. If someone clicked an ad to buy a product, Etsy took a 15% cut on the transaction. Etsy said this week it was waiving fees for the service during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it didn’t say how long that would last.

Here at Marketplace we conduct regular polls with Edison Research about the state of the economy and people’s personal economic anxiety. In the Marketplace-Edison Research Poll, we asked people how they’d made money in the past year — whether it was through gig work, freelancing, multilevel marketing, renting space in their house and so on. Not surprisingly, 25% of respondents said they were gig workers. About 60% of those people said that gig work was their primary income. Related to our interview here, 11% of people said they sell things on sites like eBay or Etsy to earn income. This data is from the last week in April, so probably does include any brand-new mask shops that popped up in the last month.

Watch the video: Ordering Plants Online And Have Them Delivered For Free In The Mail. What do they arrive like?

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