Buying Cacti on line & by mail order

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When buying cacti either through ebay, on line sources or from old fashioned paper mail order lists, there are several pointers to observe to avoid disappointment!

  • Know what it is you are buying! - here the seller can be a great help, correctly naming the plant means you can look up more information either in books or on the internet. If you know what it is you should be able to find out how big it will grow and what conditions it requires.
  • How big is the plant that is offered? If there is no scale in the photograph, a useful guide is the pot size. This is a measurement taken across the top of the pot, just inside the rim. From this you should be able to estimate the actual size of the plant. A closeup photo can make a tiny plant look huge!
  • Does the seller give any additional information about the plant? This should help you to understand its cultural requirements and decide if you can meet them!
  • If you want more information about the plant, ask! Most of the nurseries selling cacti on eBay have many years of experience growing the plants and are usually more than willing to answer questions.
  • The plants will usually be shipped bare root. This is so that the weight of the compost does not damage the plant in transit. It also gives the seller chance to make sure there are no pests or problems with the roots. The plant will soon re-establish when potted.
  • When the plant arrives, check it out for pests. A reputable seller should have done this already, but it is always worth a second look!
  • Cacti can be shipped at any time of the year, but most sellers will avoid sending when the weather is frosty. The post office have been known to leave tender plants on the doorstep when the temperature is well below zero! In this case be prepared for a little delay before receiving your plants.
  • When the plants arrive, after checking for signs of damage or pests, pot up in fresh compost and a clean pot. As a guide to pot size, usually you do not need more than the width of a finger between the side of the pot and the plant.
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY! do not water for 7 - 10 days after potting. Many people kill their cacti by watering too soon after potting, the roots need time to recover from the disturbance of shipping.
  • BEWARE of buying plants from outside of the EEC without the correct papers! If intercepted you will lose your plants and could also be liable for a large fine!
  • For Cacti, Euphorbias and some Aloes you need a CITES import licence from the UK, a CITES export licence from the sellers country and finally a PHYTOSANITARY permit from the exporting country, all of which cost! Buy from within the EU and none of these are necessary!   
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