Wide selection of plants • Smart • thoughtful packaging • Ample information on plant species and care
Costs can be high for extras and workshops
Buying plants from an IRL shop will generally be easier, but The Sill is a nice option if you must order online.
I’ve ordered plants from two online shops now, and the concept is still mostly baffling to me. Its convenience only kind of mitigates all its issues: Not only are the plants exposed to the elements and jostled during shipping, they’re also in containers full of dirt that, at some point, are going to turn upside down. Plus, you have to get rid of all that packaging!
But maybe your situation demands that you order a plant online, which is understandable. If you don’t live near a plant shop or can’t cart a large ceramic pot home on the subway then The Sill, an online plant store that’s been around since 2012 (and has three IRL locations), is probably a good option for you.
Picking the right plant is super easy
When I select a houseplant, I have one question on my mind: Will I murder this? Luckily, The Sill’s website provides enough information that you can, at least theoretically, avoid committing a plant felony. Have a dark apartment? Try the “low light” section. Have a black thumb? The “easy for beginners” category is probably your jam.
Since my apartment gets mostly indirect light and I am a notorious plant killer, I chose a small ZZ plant ($43.50) and a small marbled pothos ($39.50), each in a round ceramic planter called “The August.” (Plants come in medium, small, and “mini.”)
Customers can order plants already potted in ceramic planters, but you’ll notice that the difference in price is sizable. By itself, a ZZ plant costs $11, but it costs between $43 and $47 with a planter. For me, the extra cost was worth not having to search for a third-party planter, but you could definitely buy a cheaper one somewhere else. (For what it’s worth, the planters I received are sturdy and pleasantly minimalist in appearance. They also have drainage holes and come with an accompanying saucer.)
If you have questions about a specific plant, you can even scroll down to read comprehensive care information and a short history of the species. It’s helpful to know exactly what type of organism you’re working with, especially because the internet’s wealth of plant care information isn’t necessarily consistent.
The packaging gets the job done
When I ordered from the Amazon Plants Shop last summer, shoddy packaging was a big issue — in fact, one of the grower’s pots was caved in completely.
Thankfully, The Sill does not have the same problem. Both plants were wrapped thoughtfully with paper, twine, and bubble wrap, then placed in cardboard cartons inside the shipping box. Although unboxing them was a real journey — it required both scissors and a knife — neither plant appeared affected by the shipping process. Once I shook the dirt off the leaves, they looked straight out of a greenhouse.
The extras are genuinely useful
Aside from the core ordering process, The Sill provides a few little extras that really add to the experience. Here are a few of my favorites:
Care cards for each plant, which I have hung on my fridge. May their wisdom light my way.
A small heat pack in each plant package, which keep them from getting too chilly during transit.
A full online plant care guide, which has taught me everything from how to repot a plant (pre-moisten the new potting soil!) to plant toxicity (raw succulent juice can induce vomiting!). If you have plant care questions, chances are they’re addressed here — even if you’re not a Sill customer.
Workshops, subscriptions, and memberships
The company offers three programs that I didn’t test: workshops, subscriptions, and a membership program. You can sign up for both online and in-person plant care workshops (at The Sill’s brick-and-mortar shops) through The Sill website, which range from “Propagation 101” to “Staghorn Fern Mounting” to “DIY Plant Embroidery.” At the time of writing, all online workshops listed cost $10 and in-person workshops ranged in cost from $35-$68. (Materials are included for some workshops that involve a particular craft, like terrarium making.)
Subscriptions are available if you’d like a plant to show up to your (or a loved one’s) door every month. They come in three versions — low light plants, plants for beginners, and pet-friendly plants — and cost $35 per month. Aesthetes will appreciate that yes, you get to choose the color of the accompanying 5″ planter.
If you really want to commit to being a plant person, you can also become a member of the Plant Parent Club. This will get you access to all online workshops, free shipping, a weekly newsletter, and 10% all online orders. An annual membership will run you $39, so it might be a good move if you’re planning to order multiple rounds of plants per year.
Crucially, my plants are not dead
Yes, The Sill is more expensive than many other plant shops. But if you need extra help with your foray into plant parenthood, its resources — and its gorgeous planters — might be worth the expense. (It’s certainly a more guided experience than the Amazon Plants Shop.)
But all the bells and whistles are less important than this: My plants seem good! A week after shipment, they appear healthy and green and are living extremely boring lives on the windowsills of my apartment. Thanks to the care cards that stare me in the face every time I open the fridge, I’ll never forget to water them. And thanks to the plant care guide I re-Google every three minutes, I’ll check the soil first to make sure it’s dry at least two inches below the surface. Yes, it might be too soon to say I’ve cracked the plant care code, but The Sill has certainly helped.
Will I order my next plant from The Sill? No, but that’s no fault of the company itself. I’d just rather go to a real store. But I’m in New York, so … maybe it’ll be a Sill store.