Whether you are exploring landscape design options for your home or business, you will need a reputable source for quality plants. Depending on where you live, you will have access to a wide variety of plant sellers, including big box stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s, online plant retailers, and local nurseries. So which plant seller should you choose? Continue reading to explore the differences between buying plants from a local nursery vs those from a big box store.

Differences Between Local Nurseries and Big Box Stores

There are a lot of crucial differences between local nurseries and big box plant stores. Understanding what sets local nurseries apart from stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot, who sell plants along with a huge selection of other products, can help you decide where to spend your money. The biggest differences between buying plants at a local nursery vs buying plants at a big box plant store, which we will explore in more detail below, are:

  • Plant selection
  • Cost
  • Convenience
  • Plant health and care
  • Personalized suggestions and guidance
  • Seasonal plants
  • Specialty plants
  • Customer service and support

Plant Selection 

The first thing to consider is the plant selection of each seller. Local nurseries are committed to providing a wide range of native plants and plants that will thrive in your specific growing region or zone. They care more about the quality of the plants and how they will fare in your regional climate than they do about offering the widest selection or cheapest prices. Big box stores tend to focus more on offering a wide selection of different types of plants, even if they aren’t all varieties that will survive in your regional climate. The plant may look healthy and beautiful in the store but won’t last long once you get it home because it is not an ideal choice for your area’s weather or climate.


Next, you should consider the cost of shopping at a local nursery vs a big box store. While big box stores often have lower prices on plants, you are compromising on quality and customer service. A local nursery carefully hand-picks each type of plant they sell to ensure they are offering the highest quality plants and ones that will thrive in your regional climate and hardiness zone. You may need to pay a little more for your plants, but you enjoy peace of mind from knowing they will not end up dying in a week or two. Also, local nurseries often offer wholesale or bulk discounts, seasonal or holiday specials, and targeted discounts.


It can be equally convenient to shop at a local nursery vs a big box store. However, shopping at a local nursery offers added benefits that will enhance your convenience, such as personalized customer service, expert guidance with plant selection, care and cultivation tips and resources, and ongoing support. Local nurseries also often allow you to shop for plants online and pick them up at the nursery or have them delivered to your home or business.

Plant Health and Care

Another key consideration is the health and care of the plants before a customer buys them. Local nurseries have a staff of experts who are carefully trained in plant care. They provide careful care for each plant they carry, so that it is totally healthy when you take it home with you. In contrast, big box stores do not typically have plant experts on their staff. They may water their plants every day, but don’t provide any level of specialized plant care that is tailored to the needs of each type of plant they carry. This means that the plants aren’t very healthy and are more likely to die sooner or not survive when taken out of the store.

Personalized Suggestions and Guidance

The staff at your local nursery will offer personalized suggestions and guidance to help you make an informed decision about the plants you purchase. They will ask you about your specific goals, needs, and budget and evaluate the location and environment in which you plan to plant. They can then provide specific recommendations for plants that will thrive and complement the beauty of your surrounding landscape. At a big box store, you likely won’t encounter any plant experts who can offer professional recommendations or guidance.

Seasonal Plants

Local nurseries tend to have a wide selection of seasonal plants that can brighten up your landscape and fill in gaps left by plants from the previous season. The staff are experts who can help you choose the right selection of seasonal plants for your needs and goals. While big box stores have seasonal plants as well, they are not as well cared for or healthy, and their staff won’t be able to offer guidance in selecting the right seasonal plants for your needs.

Specialty Plants

Local nursery owners make a point to have some specialty plants in stock, including specialty native plants. They use their vast knowledge and expertise to choose plants that will survive in your hardiness zone and contribute to the beauty and sustainability of your regional ecosystem. Big box stores are more concerned with profit over environmental concerns or sustainability. They may stock specialty plants that are not good for your local ecosystem and could actually harm local wildlife or environments.

Customer Service and Support

Finally, you should consider the level of customer service and support you want. Your nursery staff can help you determine where to plant your plants, how to care for them, and which plants complement each other. If you’re having trouble caring for your plants, they will offer ongoing support and advice. At a big box store, you won’t have access to expert advice or guidance, and their level of customer service and support won’t extend beyond the walls of their store.

Visit Our Local Nursery in Georgia

At Hahira Nursery, we have a wide selection of native and specialty plants online and at our local nursery in Hahira, GA. Our expert staff can provide personalized recommendations and guidance as you select plants for your home or business. We also operate a wholesale nursery and an online plant store. Shop our selection of gorgeous plants online, or stop by and visit our retail store for personalized recommendations and assistance. You can also contact us online with questions.

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