Plant Selection at Big Box Stores

Wandered through a local big box over the weekend.. looking for plants (lowes)
Noticed they have they Easter displays out, some really nice potted hydrangeas. I raise big leafed hydrangeas myself... so I'm looking and it suddenly dawned on me.... These look like branches that have been cut off a blooming bush and stuck into a pot of soil.
Duhh... no wonder a lot of them will never grow... they're CUTTINGS, in full bloom with all the leaves. For years I always though these were actually rooted plants that would grow in the container until they could be planted...... boy am I dumb !!!
It took me years to figure out that all those colorful holiday season poinsettia's were also just cuttings taking off a blooming bush...no wonder they die after the holiday season passes.
Anyway... continued out to the shrubs and azaleas. Saw some nice specimen azaleas, glossy foliage, white flowers. Checked the fact tag and saw these beauties are for hardiness zone 8. The store is in zone 6. No way they would survive the winters.
And they have a complete display of encore azaleas, maybe a dozen different varieties, none of which have a hardiness zone listed on the plants, but are actually zone 7's or higher and will not overwinter here.
It makes me think about all the 'weekend' gardeners who will buy these plants... put them in the ground and then wonder why they don't survive. Sure they have a one year warranty (store credit only) but who can find a receipt after a few months.
You would think the big box stores would be more careful in what they sell. I guess making a buck is more important. Perhaps this is also why a lot of people feel they don't have a 'green' thumb.
Peter (who used to not have a 'green' thumb, but is slowly improving thanks to this ng).
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A dollar spent with local merchants, acts like $1.60 to the local economy. A dollar spent at Lowe's is gone, gone all the way back to Mooresville, NC.
snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

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On Apr 7, 7:40 pm, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

one of the other things you're seeing right now are also what I call "non-hardy azalea's and tender hydrangea's. They're hothouse grown and forced to provide flowers at Easter time, out of their season of flowering. Easter lilies as a matter of fact are a wonderful example. I, myself, am planning to wait until the weekend to see if Lowe's or Ho-Me Despot reduces their Easter lilies to zip doodle prices due to the blossoms starting to demise, because I know that once planted, they will return and not bloom until their true blooming time of almost June!! Pottingshed gave me an Easter lily years ago and alas it was among the victims of the mindless betrayal but after sitting quietly in my rich soil for a couple of years, it righted itself and started showing itself and only was just gaining it's wind to wow me with incredible blossoms equal to greenhouse quality but not Easter, but more like after Mother's day and well into June. Something I more appreciated later on. I will replace what I lost through their absurd reduction of prices. Not something from Beverly (Pottingshed) but in memory of her's.
On matters of their selections, yes, a lot of stuff isn't hardy, and one of the reasons they offer that "unconditional guarantee" and you can take a dead plant back within a year (annual or perennial) is because the nurseries that have contracts with them grow the plants on huge scale and it's not worth it to worry about something that didn't make it when a weekend gardener kills it or it dies from just not being hardy. Too often the plants at Lowes and Despot are root bound, or haven't had time to develop adequate roots at all to ensure survival. I take overgrown pots of perennials and score or cut their roots carefully to "loosen up their feet " so to speak and hope they don't shock and die of too much room when I free them from their boundaries and containers. They're all overfed and forced to grow faster than they normally would to accomodate the overly demanding weekend and sometimes eager gardener. I have sometimes even cut off the bottom "foot" root piece of a container plant to try and get it to spread itself out and survive. It works sometimes , sometimes not.
Sticks in the soil isn't always the rule, but I HAVE bought plants from box stores and taken them home and plugged them into the raised beds to discover that they were "bumped up" (potted into the next size up) and hadn't had time to fill the pots with roots in time to sell. And they didn't always survive, so I can see why you'd think that the hydrangea's were just sticks in soil. I've seen what it appeared to be. I agree with Veet, poinsettia's have to be stick grown or slips to get the huge demand out there by Christmas or Thanksgiving. Greenhouses start their poinsettia's in July! I worked a greenhouse one summer and we got bundles of the new poinsettia's that were going to be the new in vogue plants in lots of 50- 100 and we dipped each end into root-tone and then stuck them into four inch pots of starting mix with osmocote (sierra in bulk was the same time release food) and they had them on tables that got spray mists. By a three week period of time, we'd stuck thousands of them, and they were amazing to see the different growth levels. By time to bump them into one gallon and three gallon pots, they were forming their bracts. I learned to do several shrubs by twig starting just from doing the poinsettia's that year many decades ago. My beloved Deutzia that John Skeffington started me from soft wood cutting (new growth) was a CodsAll Pink double that I almost wasn't able to find to replace when I lost it last spring to the great betrayal. But thanks to Forest Farms, I've not only found it, I ordered two of them and have them sitting out back ready to go into my last home when we find it. They also have the Spirea billardii that I loved, and I will get one or two of those as well from Forest Farms. By the way, Gardengal, your Diablo ninebark has leaves on it!!! Thanks!! anything you have to divide, I'm open to anything at all........me mailing address is reliable for at least a couple more months. madgardener up in the green bowl gardening in containers zone 7a, Sunset zone 36 experiencing Dogwood Winter at the moment! whose tree peonies are full of buds!
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On Tue, 7 Apr 2009 21:41:30 -0700 (PDT), snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Very useful information madgardener !! Extremely useful..... Thanks for sharing. You've given a lot of ideas and information about preserving and using 'holiday' plants for general gardening....
You reminded me to check my nursery container plants to see if they require larger containers....
I've got my eyes on the hynacinths and easter lillies.... merits a quick trip to all 4 big box stores late on easter sunday or early monday am. At the very least, I'll know the bulbs are good and what color the plants are.
It must be fascinating to work in a greenhouse or nursery !! Plenty of space to fill with plants, plenty of plants to take care of and maybe even a lot of display landscaping to design and build.
Maryland Zone 6.... marginal 7... depending upon how the wind blows.... Temps are mid 50's to 60's during the day... and freezing to low 40's at night.
Peter
Early morning walk around diary...
8 container peonies are coming up fine... surrounded by an assortment of daylillies. 4 new Columbines are beginning to develop buds. Just transplanted another 8 peonies in the ground. 5 of them are already reaching for the sky, the other 3 should be breaking through. Daff's are in full bloom, Massed plantings in both front and rear of house. Tulips have buds, Hydrangeas are budding leaves Maples and Sycamore are beginning to bud. Container Floribunda Roses are coming up, Hosta's are coming up and beginning to leaf Just transplanted another 15 Yucca. they're taking hold. The deer stopped munching the euonymous, so they're beginning to fill out again. Carmellias are still flowering, Bleeding hearts and Lillies of the Valley are beginning to flower. Forsynthias are yellow, Hollies Bushes are looking good. Glossy leaves... very compact.
Canadian Geese up on the pond came over for a quick bite to eat. Groundhogs are beginning to appear. Saw a small one yesterday.
3 English Hollies are officially declared dead, my bad.... left them out over the winter without proper cover or moisture... they were holiday container plants... should have been kept indoors and watered until the root ball developed more. Now I know.
Two arborvitae destroyed by deer. Bark and branches are gone. They will require a lot of TLC in hopes of regrowing.
Canna in pots.outdoors on sunny days, indoors at night. Growing but need warmer weather. Rose of Sharon shrubs looking good...no dead branches, firmly rooted. Trimmed off the Crepe Myrtle... they're set to bloom about mid July. Carpet roses are coming up.... Pachasandra is beginning to bloom. 3 container Tree Roses are beginning to bud.
Rototilled the garden this past weekend.... mixed in a load of compost, leaf mulch, fertilizer and lime. Covered with plastic to keep the weeds from growing It'll be another two weeks before last frost date. April 25 - May 1
In the process of building a small stone berm to terrace off an incline and need to level an 8' x 8' stone walkway to install a fountain.
Three Blue Angel and one Guacomole Hosta will be shipping next monday (thanks to recommendations from other members !!).... can't wait !!
It must be springtime....
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On Apr 9, 12:45 pm, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

thanks Peter! That was a wonderful update on your spring arrivals! I long to just have another place of our own to just tuck in the survival's in their containers. I guess the ultimate betrayal did me a favor by the sheer numbers of tens and tens of mature and maturing and hard to replace perennials I lost by last September. it would REALLY look like a holding address for wayward nursery plants! LOL.......
I have been taking pictures of the blooming babies that have wowed and humbled me by their unexpected but happy reappearance when I thought some were forever lost to me. I still long to hear the peepers "weeping" their love calls.......and Friday when we were looking at a house that had woods, I saw a huge Pileted red headed woodpecker that was at least a foot in height! I miss the wide variety of flying dinosaurs...........
today I spotted a hidden botanical tulip, Tarda, that was nestled in a pot quietly opening her bud. And the scrounged "Stars of Bethelehem" are everywhere. I dug up a few tubers and tucked them into the large 20 gallon pots of tree peonies I saved at the bulldozed house last late fall. All those tree peonies are full of buds!!
I will post an update spring ramble, you've inspired me! thanks!!
madgardener container gardening and enjoying the magic of it all in upper Northeastern Tennessee, zone 7a, Sunset zone 36 in the green bowl, nestled against the Cherokee National Forest and Appalachian mountains
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