It can be frustrating driving around to various garden centers or leafing through mail-order catalogs searching for a specific perennial, shrub, or fruit tree. Fortunately, there are several books and an online service that can help the determined gardener find sources for those difficult-to-find plants.
The Fruit, Berry and Nut Inventory (third edition) is a comprehensive inventory of 280 mail-order nursery catalogs. The 560 page book contains information on over 6,000 fruit, berry, and nut varieties. Each varietal listing includes a plant description, history, and a list of U.S. companies currently offering the variety. The nursery listing includes the company's name, address, web site, price of catalog, type of nursery (retail or wholesale), and a brief description of the types of plants sold by the company. The Fruit, Berry and Nut Inventory is available from the Seed Savers Exchange, 3076 North Winn Road, Decorah, Iowa 52101. The price for a softcover copy is $24.00, $30.00 for a hardcover copy.
Another book available from the Seed Savers Exchange is the Garden Seed Inventory (fifth edition). The 780 page book provides information and sources of 7,300 standard or non-hybrid vegetable varieties. The cost of softcover and hardcover copies are $26.00 and $32.00, respectively. The Andersen Horticultural Library's Source List of Plants and Seeds (fifth edition) lists sources of over 70,000 plants available from over 500 mail-order nurseries in the U.S. and Canada. The 304 page book lists the sources of annuals, perennials, vegetables, fruits, and woody ornamentals. Examples include sources of several thousand daylily varieties (19 pages) and 400 varieties of tomatoes. The nursery and seed catalog source list includes the company's name, type of business (retail or wholesale), price of catalog, address, telephone number, and web address. The Andersen Horticultural Library's Source List of Plants and Seeds is available for $39.95 from the Andersen Horticultural Library, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, 3675 Arboretum Drive, Box 39, Chanhassen, Minnesota 55317.
Plant Information Online is an online version of the Andersen Horticultural Library's Source List of Plants and Seeds. The site is updated daily. An individual subscription is $39.95 per year. Additional information on this service can be found at
So, if you're looking for "Elvis Lives" (hosta), "Mr. Ed" (lily), or "Godzilla" (iris), there are books and online services that can help you locate these rather intriguing plants.
This article originally appeared in the May 17, 2002 issue, p. 67.
Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Horticulture and Home Pest News, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If this article is to be used in any other manner, permission from the author is required. This article was originally published on May 17, 2002. The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.