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Ontario allows alternative methods of sale for garden centres

April 21, 2020
By Greta Chiu


Are garden centres deemed essential in Ontario? The province provided an answer this week that says businesses offering plants are essential, however, only alternative methods of sale are allowed at this point.

“Businesses that sell hardware products or that produce food, beverages and agricultural products including plants also are included in the list of essential businesses. They are permitted to sell garden products including flowers, plants and other garden supplies to the public but only through an alternative method of sale such as curbside pick-up or delivery,” says a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) in an email.

Meanwhile, other businesses primarily offering food and other household products are open to the public and able to sell garden products while adhering to public health measures. “Businesses that primarily sell food, beverages and consumer products necessary to maintain households and businesses – including supermarkets, grocery stores and discount and big box retailers selling groceries – are included in the list of essential businesses. They may also sell garden products including flowers, plants and other garden supplies.”


Acting on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, OMAFRA says decisions related to essential businesses are not made lightly. “Decisive actions like this one are what is going to put us in a position to reduce the risk and see the economy recover faster.”

The decision on garden centres has been made at the provincial level. British Columbia included retail garden centres on their list of essential services at the outset. Alberta announced their decision to greenhouse and garden centre owners last week. Quebec reopened garden centre and landscaping services to the public last week, with specific rules and measures in place. Garden centres are also categorized as essential in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

“We know the actions we are taking are affecting the lives and livelihoods of people across the province, but these are extraordinary times and we need to do whatever we can to keep individuals and families safe and stop the spread of this terrible virus,” adds OMAFRA.

The list of essential services can be found here.

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22 Comments » for Ontario allows alternative methods of sale for garden centres

    Garden Centres should be considered an “essential service” on Ontario. They sell plants to feed us and also being able to garden helps with people’s well being and mental health.

    • Joe Spero says:

      Thank you For making Ontario Garden Centres an essential service with Alternative methods of SALE. Thank you for preventing the Spread of Covid19 and protecting the gardeners of Ontario. Health is more important then profit

  2. Debbie Dupuis says:

    Please consider allowing garden centres to open to the public.
    We purchase our starter plants from a local garden centre as starting from seeds has never proven successful to me. We are seniors and supplement our food supply from our vegetable garden

  3. Anne says:

    The quality of plants etc at retaliers are not the same and are not kept up the way that a garden centre takes care of them. I feel that if the garden centres are adhearing to the regulations for distancing then there should be no reason not to allow them to open. They are essential to vegetable plants for the short season that we have and we need the best quality to get the best return.

  4. Alison Dalton says:

    We should be allowed plants and grow food!!!!
    Wake up !!!

  5. Margaret Cousineau says:

    Many of us rely on greenhouses to start our vegetable gardens. Garden centres are as essential as grocery stores.

  6. Bob Hudson says:

    If a garden centre is outdoors, there is no reason not to allow customers opportunity to peruse and select the plants they require as long as the store maintains distancing and safe procedures for customers and staff.

  7. Karyn says:

    I support the governments decisions and started my own veggies with seeds from items in my fridge or seeds ordered online I will split my perrenials I have many that are long overdo . Also found online some interesting flowers to grow from seeds all which are up and thriving . Many garden centres have adapted so shall I . I love my garden and to garden but will make the scrafice needed and do things just a little differently this year because that’s what it will take to move forward and put this horrible pandamic behind us. Not stressing the small stuff I will make it work so many others are dealing with almost unbearable issues everyday to save lives.

  8. Elaine says:

    What is wrong with these people? It is essential! Greenhouses house plants to grow food! They should be allowed to open. Disgusted with this government. Just fools. Good for one but not the other

  9. This ruling makes no sense at all. It’s arbitrary, discriminatory and illogical. We’re at no greater risk selecting and buying at an independent Garden Centre than wandering the garden aisles at Costco, Loblaw or Home Depot. This is just wrong!

  10. Viola Sewerynek says:

    Garden centres should absolutely be an essential business. People are having difficulty with their grocery orders, not getting what they ordered or quantities etc. I can’t imagine the mess this is going to create for garden centres with the amount of flower varieties and colours to choose from. Online orders with curb side pick up or delivery will be a disaster. Please reconsider.

  11. Judy Harding says:

    We need this!

  12. Kelly says:

    So the box stores will have the advantage yet again of a captive audience, taking a big bite out of the local growers bottom line.
    Since it has become blindingly obvious how fragile our food chain is it would better serve everyone if garden centers are deemed essential.

  13. heather bond says:

    we definitely need gardens for our sanity at this time .

  14. Rachna says:

    Garden centres are essential. Why send bulk of people to Costco, home Depot, Lowe’s etc for garden shopping when they can all go exclusively to Garden centres. This will help cut down on crowds too.

  15. 88 Hill Greenhouse says:

    My husband and I are seniors, and have a small rural garden centre where we grow vegetables, annuals and perennials. We do this each year to supplement our retirement income to help with expenses over the year.
    If we are not allowed to open, it will seriously impact our income.
    We will do phone orders and curbside pickup, but it is not the same. Most people like to look and see what they are buying. I think all small garden centre should be allowed to open, since the big box stores will be allowed to sell plants. It’s the same old, the rich get richer and the poor poorer.
    Don’t get me wrong ,we believe in physical distancing and for everyone to keep safe. We can do that at our small rural garden centre!!!

  16. Lori Baine says:

    Make them essential- for all the reasons above. There are some plants I can`t grow from seed.

  17. Maria Czarzasty says:

    When we grow our own food, our diet is more diverse, healthy, inexpensive, full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Research shows that gardening for just 30 minutes a day will help: increase flexibility, strengthen joints, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce the risk of diabetes, slow down osteoporosis. Today this is more important than ever. It is so easy to understand that garden centers are an essential business, and it is terrifying that this problem has to be discussed.

  18. Valerie Fleming says:

    Yes greenhouses are essential many families rely on growing their own produce for their table and to freeze or can to cut down on their grocery bills. Also the mental healing and stress reduction of gardening and the health benefits of exercise and fresh air.

  19. Inge van Stralen says:

    As a gardencenter manager , I feel saddened that the box stores are allowed to sell plantstock on their parking lot, in my opinion those areas are very congested as they have only a certain sqft of the parking lot
    Most greenhouses have the space to allow social distance
    As the plants are often an add on sale for the grocery/ boxstore, it is our livelihood that we need, to make our
    ends meet
    I am dumbfounded that the greenhouses/ gardencenters are not essential.

  20. Erica Stevenson says:

    What about the people who work in these environments? If you reopen garden centers to the public, we will be faced with crowds of people like we see every May and June. If the decision is made to reopen to the public then there would need to be strict guidelines for how many people are allowed to shop at a given time and a clear vision of how this will be enforced. Everyone needs to be protected and health should be the number one priority. Having worked in a garden center for 7 years now I know what it’s like to have huge line ups, a crowded nursery, and a packed parking lot every planting season. My fear is it will be even busier this year.

  21. Jacquie DeForest says:

    I’m so ticked off that the Ontario Garden Centres are not open for passionate gardeners like me so we can browse & choose our own plant. A picture is definitely NOT good enough!!! You expect us to lay out hard earned money & not get the best plant possible that we choose ourselves. If Alberta & Quebec can open up the Garden Centres, so can Ontario!!!

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