Hirt’s Gardens will not have that 10-foot-tall weeping cherry that you are looking for. Yet, they have a trove of hidden garden gems. Hirt’s Gardens specializes in unusual cultivars and unique kinds of herbaceous plants. You will love wandering the aisles of their greenhouses. Looking for Castor Beans? How about Sensitive Plants? Your kids will love them! Their soft compound leaves fold up when touched. There are greenhouses full of crazy houseplants that will bedazzle your window space.
Rated #1 for the variety of houseplants, perennials, vegetables, seeds, and bulbs. Or buy online – they sell and ship more plants than most! It is a cool operation to check out.
I have such fond memories of this place growing up. Once this landmark sat on the corner of Royalton Road and Pearl Road in Strongsville Ohio. Everyone knew them for their Dollar Perennials. How attractive is that? All kinds of flats filled not with annual flowers, but with perennials! What a steal that was, for only $1 apiece.
Hirt’s Gardens is now located at 4943 Ridge Road Medina (Granger Township), Ohio, 44281. Check their opening hours before you go. Since they focus primarily on online sales, their retail location is not open late. Yet, it is well worth a trip. Come prepared to invest a few bucks into something cool!
Looking for ornaments for your mantle at Christmas time? This place lights it up during the Christmas season. But it is awestriking during summer too! Walking into their greenhouse feels so refreshing. You will find clean aisles of seasonal display plants and a houseplant room. Further down you’ll wander into another room full of hard goods and garden chemicals. Need a new hose nozzle? They have the coolest around. Tucked further back is a gift area with women’s clothing and home décor. The variety of spaces throughout the store is reminiscent of English garden centers.
This is the type of garden center you go to looking to reward yourself for the hard work you put in. Seasonal plants are not something you will always think of having around. It is easy to keep coming back to Gale’s for more of their household delights. You can even pick up a six-pack of craft beer. Their houseplants are grade A. Get anything from tropical floor plants to orchids. There is even a section for fairy garden items.
I go to Gale’s when I need to fill an opening in my windows or need a flower that keeps coming back each year. Of course, you must take the family there during the holidays. They are also the place to go for a full-size bale of peat moss. Mixing peat moss into the soil before you plant is the way to go. I would not suggest planting in soil without it. You will find it at 24373 Center Ridge Road, Westlake, OH 44145.
The only ding on Gale’s of Westlake is that no one has asked if I needed help. Call me old-fashioned, but a garden center should have a high level of customer service. They don’t have an expert front-and-center to answer questions. This is what I appreciate about the next garden center on the list of best garden centers in Cleveland, Ohio.
You will find Cahoon Nursery tucked away off Detroit Road in Westlake. Most people notice it for the first time when they get stuck in the traffic caused by their spring rush. This rustic nursery is filled to the brim with woody plants. If you want to redo the landscape around your home, visit Cahoon’s. Their employees are on the move, wrangling plants and packing mulch in trunks. This is the place where you will get some guidance. A personal touch is built into their culture. The previous owner was very personable. He left his mark on the place.
Buying a tree is a huge deal. Literally! Even the small ones are not easy to jam into your car. Guess what? Cahoon Nursery will deliver and plant the trees that you buy. This is a small, family-run business with some very skilled nurserymen and women. Their clearance section is nothing to write home about, but that is about the worst part of the place. This is the best spot for landscapers to pop in for material that isn’t wholesale. I highly recommend this place for foundation plants. For serious landscaping around your home go to 27630 Detroit Rd. Westlake, OH 44145
Petitti Garden Center is the mack daddy of garden centers! They have a wide variety of popular garden plants. And they have perfected the system of rotating their selection throughout the year. The quality is hard to match. Every plant has an ideal form and vigor. You will find their plants transplant well into the garden!
The Strongsville store is the best. It is a long way down Pearl Road if you’re coming from Cleveland, but you will be glad you took the trek. It is like going to the garden center kingdom.
When I was a kid, Petitti had pop-up garden centers in the parking lots of my local Sears. Walking around I noticed that on the end cap there was a 2-gallon foxglove in full bloom for sale for $25.00. You see foxgloves are biennials. They grow one year and bloom the next. Foxgloves do not return for a third year. At the time, most garden centers sold perennials in 1-gallon pots for $7.99 or $8.99. It was shocking to see a plant at the end of its life cycle, in a pot that was a size too big, for more than twice the cost. I did enjoy that foxglove as a brief, yet beautiful, garden guest.
$25 2-gallon perennials are hard to swallow after witnessing dollar perennials at Hirt’s. When you go big with a garden center, the plants get bigger too. They still have 1-gallon perennials tucked in with the others. I recently came away with evening primrose and some regular primrose for my garden path. Man, were they worth it! Every other primrose I have bought turns yellow, or the slugs demolish them. These ones have huge leaves and look like plant tongues lurching out of the ground. These plants from Petitti have vigor!
Getting healthy plants from the garden center makes a big difference in your garden. Their plants are homegrown at Casa Verde in Columbia Station! It is a well-run business, all around. If you want hanging baskets or to do container gardening, this would be my first stop! Take a field trip to 18941 Pearl Rd. Strongsville, OH 44136.
Okay, this one is not quite in Cleveland, Ohio. It’s in nearby Norton, Ohio, which is about 15 minutes west of Akron. Tom, the Owner, built this into an establishment. He can answer anything you can throw at him. The staff is helpful too. Talk about homegrown, this is just the kind of service you would expect at a top-rated garden center!
Although they are well-staffed, you will find plaques describing each plant. It makes shopping for plants so much easier. Especially if you are too shy to ask for help.
Most garden centers get their azaleas and rhododendrons from the South. These pot-bound shrubs do not transfer well to Northeast Ohio soil and climate. This is where Dayton Nursery comes in. With a wide selection of locally grown azaleas, rhododendron, heathers, and viburnum. Check out the wide variety of roses in late May and Early June, too.
It can be difficult for a garden center to keep a vibrant stock of vegetation through the heat of summer. Dayton Nursey has a collection that beats the heat. They have a dwarf conifers. And a large outdoor greenhouse stocked with azaleas and cool Japanese maples. On top of that, their selection of shade perennials is hard to beat.
What gets them on this list, despite their distance, is their landscape design services. They have a variety of affordable options. You really cannot go wrong. I love their landscape design kit. You get a sheet of graph paper. Afterward, you will go fill out the dimensions of your house and beds. Schedule a time, and one of the designers will show you what you should plant. It is awesome! You get the visual at the nursery to go with the design on paper. You get a fresh design and they get the plant sales. It is a win-win.
The only downside to Dayton Nurseries is that their storefront lacks pizzazz. It is just missing that welcoming appeal. Their houseplant area needs improvement, and the annual greenhouse is barren at times. Yet, they make up for it with their Own Barn Market. It is set up perfectly. And the produce has that fresh-from-the-farm taste.
Dayton Nurseries is a bit of a drive. But, if you need a Heather or Broom, check them out at 3459 Cleveland-Massillon Road, Norton, OH 44203.

Honorable Mention: Lowes in Rocky River

Okay, I understand the importance of supporting local businesses. As a result, I hesitate to recommend a large chain like Lowes. But it is hard for me to pass up a good deal on new plants. And if you time it out right, you will come away from this Lowes with a haul! I have landscaped many yards for pennies on the dollar. I did this by keeping an eye on their clearance section. And you can too! The best time to scope it out is in the fall. This is when Lowes ditches their perennials for a fresh shipment of fall flowers. Those same fall flowers are cleared out soon after the growing season ends. You can make out like a bandit. For this, this Lowes location earns an honorable mention. Pop into the Westgate Mall location at 20639 Center Ridge Rd, Rocky River, OH 44116. Do so many times during October to snag the best clearance deals.

This article is based on the opinion of Shawn Payne- Owner of Lakewood Exterminating. He has studied horticulture for 5 years. He has two college degrees from The Ohio State University. One of his degrees is Nursery Management.