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How to search for plants on supplier trade lists

Lots of people struggle to search for plants on their suppliers’ trade lists when they are in PDF format. However, there is an easy solution for this for Windows users (if it works on Mac too please let me know!) that not many people know about.

First step is to make sure the supplier is sending you trade lists that have been exported to PDF from Excel or Word, not printed and scanned. This won’t work for scanned documents. Good news is 99% of trade lists are genuinely digital.

In File Explorer, either on your local PC or using a synced (and downloaded) shared drive like OneDrive, (DropBox, SharePoint, Google Docs etc should work equally well, as long as they are synced and downloaded), go to the folder where you save your suppliers’ lists.

Pro tip – we have ours organised into preferred (A), secondary (B), and last resort (C) folders. This means we can mainly work in our preferred folder and buy as much from those suppliers as possible, but if we are stuck we can broaden that out by going up a folder level and searching everyone.

Over in your top right search bar, start typing in the name of the plant. Remember that there is often slight spelling variations between nurseries, so try spelling only part of the name. Also it is often best to use the cultivar of the plant you’re looking for, as some species will give you a lot of results.

In the example below I’m searching for Nandina, and it’s showing me everyone who has it. Most of our suppliers have pdf lists, but using this method will also show results for excel and word lists.

Remove the struggle, fix what bugs you, focus on continuous improvement.

Happy searching!



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