Receiving a package in the mail can be exciting and fun---a lot like getting a present. Unlike most other delivered items, live mail order plants need to be opened and cared for right away. Even if you're not quite ready for gardening, there are some easy, simple things you can do to make sure your mail order plants remain alive and healthy.
Bring your package of mail order plants inside and open it as soon as it arrives. Set aside any paperwork, such as plant care instructions. Check the packing slip to make sure your entire order has been shipped and that the correct items are enclosed. If anything is amiss, contact the supplier immediately to rectify errors.
Open any plastic outer packaging right away so the plants will receive necessary air circulation. Don't panic if you see dried foliage---this is normal for plants that are shipped during natural dormancy.
Most mail order plant shipments include instructions on how to care for the plants until you can transplant them outside. Some specimens require special treatment, so it's important that you don't overlook this step.
Cover a cookie sheet with newspaper or paper towels. Spread bulbs, rhizomes, tubers and corms out in a single layer. Store them in a cool, dry place until you're ready to plant them. A spot with good air circulation and protection against temperature extremes is ideal.
Remove potted green plants carefully from packaging. Follow the enclosed instructions regarding watering, temperature and light. You'll want to plant these specimens as soon as possible.
Leave packaging intact on bare-root plants such as roses, trees and shrubs. Packing materials may be burlap, newspaper, sawdust or wood shavings. Keep roots moist and away from direct sunlight until you can get them into the ground.