Have you ever gone to a garden center with a specific plant in mind that would look perfect in your garden only to come home with a bunch of pretty plants that were not on your list? To quote Andy Rooney, “Well, I have!” It’s important to know that garden centers are no different than any other retail store in that they market to the vulnerable shopper who cannot possibly pass by that pretty flowering plant which is at the peak of the season. This type of eye candy is usually displayed prominently at the entrance to the retail area or near the cash register where it will definitely be noticed and hopefully purchased.
The problem with buying these little gems is that they don’t always have a very long shelf life, or they may be annuals mistaken for perennials. A perfect example of this is a beautiful ornamental grass named Pennisetum ‘Rubrum’, common name Purple Fountain Grass. This is an annual grass which will not hold up to a frost in the Northeast. If I only had a dollar for every client I had to disappoint by telling them they purchased an annual grass and not a perennial. Beware of this plant for it is likely on display at a garden center near you this Fall. Pennisetum ‘Rubrum’ is a great plant to purchase in late Spring/Early Summer where you can enjoy it all season, but if you purchase it now, it may only last a few weeks.
The same is true for many other annuals sold in the summer where the consumer hopes the plants will come back the following year only to be disappointed when they don’t reappear the next season. Always read the labels carefully and don’t be afraid to ask a salesperson at the garden center. The Spring season is the most popular time of year for impulse buying. Look for our next blog where we will discuss Spring impulse buying.