Plant Special Orders & The Industry Process

Plant Special Orders & The Industry Process

Written by Nate Hopping, Ipswich Tree & Shrub Manager

As spring rapidly approaches—or, as many would say, is already here—we at Wolf Hill have been receiving more requests and inquiries about specific plants that will be available this season. I thought it might be beneficial to shed some light on the process of placing a special order, specifically for Woody Plants, Annuals, and Perennials. Here's how to go about it and what you can expect.

First and foremost, it's important to stress that special orders and requests are not only welcomed but encouraged! If you have a specific plant you've always wanted or have recently spotted somewhere and would like to know if we can source it for you, please don't hesitate to email, call, or reach out to us in any way.

The initial step involves getting in touch with us. You can find our store numbers on our website, Google, and other platforms. Our managers' emails are also listed on our website in our Directory. Directly contacting the manager responsible for the items you're interested in is the quickest route to a resolution. We also have request forms you can fill out on our website that asks all of the information we need to get for your special order.

Request Forms:

Once we've received a request, we'll inform you whether the plant is currently available in one of our stores or if we expect it to arrive from our already in-transit inventory. If neither of these scenarios applies, we'll let you know, and then we'll start our search among our many wholesalers. 

We aim to provide a realistic timeframe for this search, though it can vary significantly. If we locate the item you're searching for, we'll assess the feasibility of the order. By "feasibility," I mean considering the minimum monetary amounts required by wholesalers for us to place an order. If the wholesaler doesn't have any other items we need to reach the minimum order amount, we often can't proceed further, and we'll communicate this to you. Some times of the year, like the spring/early summer rush, when we're ordering frequently, makes it easier to meet these minimums.

After placing an order, we wait for a confirmation receipt. If the vendor confirms the items, we'll let you know that the search was successful and when to expect the item at our store.

The confirmation step is crucial, as it involves the wholesaler verifying our order against their current inventory. Garden Centers largely operate based on live availability lists from wholesalers, which are highly competitive. Thus, items or entire orders may not be confirmed if the stock has already been allocated. These availability lists are updated at various intervals, depending on the seller, and range from weekly to bi-monthly. Unfortunately, even with confirmation, specific items might not arrive due to overselling, human error, etc.

Some items, like ornamental conifers and large trees, are more difficult to source during the peak season (May-July) since most suppliers are located in Oregon, where freight becomes a logistical and financial challenge. We always consult with you regarding your budget, understanding that some items are deemed worth the expense.

Wolf Hill, like almost every other Garden Center, sources certain materials from the West Coast, attracted by the broader selection and lower prices. These advantages are due to the larger land availability, favorable climate, and lower cost of living in these rural states.

If you're interested in an item typically sourced from the West Coast, the best approach is to request it for the next season during the months of September-February, scheduled to arrive in Spring the following year. 

For specific, expensive, or large-quantity special orders, we may require a partial or full deposit to ensure commitment as we navigate the ordering process.

We hope this guide offers you a better understanding of how to place a special order, the optimal timing for such requests, and some insight into the behind-the-scenes processes. We're excited to help bring your gardening dreams to life!