Frequently Asked Questions: PlantScout

General QuestionsPlantScout Vendor Questions

What makes PlantScout unique?

For starters, it's the only free plant-finder in the U.S.  (A few books and websites exist, but they require readers to purchase the book or pay an annual fee to access the website.)  In addition, PlantScout is the only finder that:
  1. is international - vendors from anywhere in the world can participate.
  2. lets you search for seeds, plants and bulbs of any plant.
  3. has built-in vendor feedback and detailed plant information and images.
From a technology standpoint, PlantScout is unique in its use of powerful databases which allows users to cross-reference among plants and vendors.

PlantScout is based on a solid foundation of two extremely popular and informative features:  PlantFiles and the Garden Watchdog.  The ever-growing PlantFiles contains more than 180,000 different plants, accompanied by hundreds of thousands of images and comments submitted by real-life gardeners.

The Watchdog has established itself as the industry leader in providing the largest directory of mailorder gardening companies combined with a public forum for gardeners to share their buying experiences.   More than 70% of the comments are accompanied by a positive rating, making the Watchdog the place to turn for the inside scoop on the best-rated gardening companies.  The ratings also give you the track record of each vendor that offers the plant you want, so you can make an informed buying decision.

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Do I have to be a subscribed member to use this feature?

No!  PlantScout is open to any user who visits our site. 

However, if you wish to interact with the Garden Watchdog or PlantFiles you need to register for a free username before you can leave feedback or comments.  Subscribers also have the ability to conduct unlimited searches throughout PlantFiles while non-subscribed members have limited searching ability.

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I am not getting any search results - help!

Remember that PlantScout is designed to help you find vendors selling a specific plant.  Searching for "tree" or "groundcover" or "flower" isn't going to yield results, but a search for "Poplar" or "Sedum" or "Daffodil" will give you many search results to look through.

If you're looking for Salvia farinacea, using the full species name will help you target in on what you're seeking, but if you don't know how to spell "farinacea", then try searching for "Salvia", which will allow you to browse through the various species and cultivars until you find the one you're looking for.

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How can I find a plant if I don't know its name?

PlantScout lets you search for plants by common or scientific name.  You can also browse through each vendor's list and perhaps seeing the name will jog your memory.

The Advanced Search feature of PlantFiles can help you locate a plant by its characteristics (height, bloom color, etc.)  We also have a terrific ID forum where gardeners can post a description or image of their plant, and others will help them identify it, usually within a few hours.  These features are available to our subscribed members.

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Are these the only companies selling this plant?

Probably not.  But finding other sources is a bit like looking for a needle in a huge haystack.  Some vendors have their catalogs online; some don't.  A few catalogs have been indexed by search engines, but many have not.  That makes it nearly impossible to comparison shop or even know who's selling a particular item.

One of the most frequent questions our helpdesk receives is "Where can I buy this plant?" and years of trying to answer those questions one-on-one led us to develop PlantScout.  Now everyone can get the answer to this question at their fingertips.  If your favorite vendor hasn't joined PlantScout yet, encourage them to sign up soon!

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I'm a vendor; why should I join PlantScout?

PlantScout is the single best way for customers and mailorder companies to find one another, and can have an immediate impact on your ability to reach customers.

After more than four years of building and maintaining one of the largest databases of plants in the world, along with creating the single largest world-wide directory of mailorder gardening companies, we focused our creative energy on combining the information from each, to create the best possible way to answer the age-old question of "where can I buy this specific plant?" It's a question we hear quite often from the millions of gardeners who visit our site each year.

When you join PlantScout, these motivated buyers will be able to immediately reach you for their seed, bulb and plant purchases. As with the Garden Watchdog, PlantScout is open to all users (there is no subscription required for customers to access Plantscout.)

Once you sign up, your entire inventory can be entered into PlantScout quickly and easily. We will be happy to upload the data you provide to us in a simple spreadsheet format or we can extract and upload your data for you. We also offer a user-friendly company interface, which allows you to:
  • See at a glance which items do not have a corresponding PlantFiles entry
  • Review and edit any item for spelling or taxonomy changes
  • Remove or add items when necessary
  • Fully refresh your list at any time
  • Access powerful and detailed reports on the number of times your company's information has been accessed, including real-time reports of clickthroughs.

We provide ongoing support to participating companies:
  • A copy of your product list in a standard spreadsheet format is available at no extra charge; we'll be happy to send it to you for your own use.
  • Technical support to troubleshoot errors or glitches.
  • Taxonomy support to verify any plant's proper scientific name.
  • Creation of additional entries to PlantFiles on request.
  • Weekly report of clickthroughs (including an advanced report so you can track the plants that are triggering clickthroughs into your site.)
  • E-mail and telephone support.
The annual cost to enroll is based on the number of products you wish to list (you may choose to include your entire inventory, or a portion of it - whatever makes the most sense for your business.) The following chart shows the price for each tier:





1 to 100



101 to 300



301 to 500



501 to 1,000



1,000 or more


*Product is defined as each species or cultivar; multiple sizes of each plant or seed packet are not counted as individual products.

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I'm a vendor; how do I join PlantScout

To get started with PlantScout, your company needs to be listed in the Garden Watchdog and you need to add yourself as a representative for your company. Once you are approved as a company representative, we'll provide you with free management tools for your company listing in Garden Watchdog and the opportunity to sell your products in PlantScout.

Search for your company listing in the Garden Watchdog here. If your company is not in the Garden Watchdog, add it here.

To add yourself as a representative for your company's listing in the Garden Watchdog, visit your company's listing in the Garden Watchdog and select this option: "Click here if you are a representative of this company", which is located at the bottom of the page.

If you do not see this option, your company has already added a representative. If this is the case, please contact us for further assistance.

Once your company is enrolled, we will contact you to provide any needed assistance.

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I'm a small vendor; how will PlantScout help me reach customers?

PlantScout is designed to level the playing field for large and small vendors.  When a user searches for a plant, they are provided an alphabetical listing of every vendor who carries that item.  For the large companies, their customers are spared the frustration of thumbing through a huge catalogue or searching around a vast website.  For the smaller vendors, the customer doesn't know (or probably care) that you offer just one cultivar of this plant, as long you're offering the one they're seeking.

By tiering the pricing, (see above) vendors are given the opportunity to participate in PlantScout for a nominal fee relative to the size of your offerings.  We believe all vendors will find this is the absolute best value for your marketing dollar, whether you're a small vendor filling a unique niche in the horticultural trade or you offer thousands of species and cultivars.

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I'm a vendor; how will I list my products?

Our simple PlantScout management interface permits easy entry of your products. If you already know the Latin name of your plants, adding each plant is done in a few keystrokes. Alternatively, we will happily upload your spreadsheet or Word file with your inventory information, for no extra fee. If you have no spreadsheet or file, our staff is ready to retrieve your plant inventory information from your website.

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I'm a vendor; what should my spreadsheet of products look like?

The spreadsheet format is very simple. It consists of five columns - one each for genus, species, cultivar name, the product(s) you're offering (seed, plant, bulb and/or cutting.), and an optional field containing a direct URL to the product itself on your website. Here's an example:

Genus Species Cultivar Offering Direct URL (optional)
Abelmoschus esculentus Annie Oakley seed //
Larix occidentalis
plant //
Halcyon plant //
Populus x canadensis Imperial plant //
Curcuma alismatifolia Wippada White plant //
Chamaemelum nobile
seed, plant //

If you have any problems providing your data in this format, please contact us and we'll be happy to provide technical assistance to get your data loaded quickly and easily.

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I'm a vendor; how will my products look to my customers on PlantScout?

Figure 1: Prospective customers land on one of more than 100,000 PlantFiles information pages via search engines, links from within DG, or from links emailed from a friend. Your listing is linked from a page such as this, which is viewed by thousands of people each day.

Advertising benefits

Figure 2: When customers click on the vendors' link (shown in figure 1), they are shown the list of companies selling this plant. When your company is among those listed, customers can then click to go directly to your homepage and purchase the plant, seed or bulb.

Advertising benefits

Figure 3: Users can also search directly within PlantScout. The search results will show all plants matching their search, including cultivars and varieties. The links in the second column take them to your website, where they may purchase this product.

Advertising benefits

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