Many African violet hobbyists reach a point where they are only interested in named varieties and will only purchase labeled plants and/or registered African violet hybrids. Luckily, there are many mail order greenhouses to meet this need. Buying plants by mail requires evaluation by a different set of criteria since you are unable to inspect plants in person.
Mail Order African Violets
Things to look for in an African violet vendor:
» Excellent reputation
In mail order, a vendor`s reputation is everything. If an African violet vendor has an excellent reputation you will probably be a satisfied customer, too. Online African violet forums and Internet mailing lists dedicated specifically to growing African violets are an excellent resource for learning who the good African violet vendors are. Happy customers are repeat customers. On the other hand, unhappy customers are quick to spread the word when they have a poor experience with a vendor — and the Internet is where you’ll hear about it first.
» Excellent customer service
A good African violet vendor is responsive whether you order by phone or place an order online and will do whatever is necessary to make sure that your order is fulfilled as quickly and accurately as possible. They will ensure that your African violets are properly packed for shipping. If winter shipping is offered they will include heat packs to keep plants warm when shipping to colder climates. A good vendor will work with you to correct a problem if one should arise.
» A wide selection of plants or leaves
A good African violet retailer will carry a range of the most popular varieties, proven convention and show winners, and often some of the older vintage varieties. Although most vendors offer an assortment of standards, miniatures and semi-miniatures, there are a few who specialize in just semis and minis. To state the obvious, choose a vendor who carries the African violet varieties that you are interested in!
» Reasonable shipping and handling fees
Although vendors have no control over the fees charged by shipping carriers, a good African violet vendor will not add on unreasonably high packaging or handling fees.
Don’t forget that African violets make great gifts. If you have an African violet addict on your gift list consider giving an African violet plant or a mail order gift certificate from a reputable vendor.