In My Defense...

What kind of plant shopper are you?

Do you make a list of exactly what you want, including quantities and specific varieties, before you go to the garden center?

Do you have a "sort of" idea of what you want and then go to the garden center and see what they have?

Do you just show up at the garden center to buy plants and buy whatever plants catch your eye?

Do you go to the garden center for something other than plants, and end up buying a plant anyway?

I had one of those $10 project starter cards from Lowes that expired on Sunday, those cards they send you in the mail to buy $25 or more and get $10 off. I decided that I would use it to buy 25 bags of top soil to have on hand for Gardening Vacation 2007, which by the way starts in less than 24 hours, actually it starts in about 20 hours, but who's counting?

Anyway, I figured I'd use the card to buy 25 bags at about $1.19 a bag, and I would end up paying about $20 for those bags, which is a pretty good deal around here. With this specific goal in mind, I made my way to the garden center and got in line to pay for the top soil. I didn't allow myself to browse around (much) and look at plants because I knew I was not yet ready to buy them. (I'll be ready in a few days). However, while I was waiting in line, I did admire a great big fern that the customer behind me had. She said they were just taking the ferns off the truck and setting them up. I'm telling you, it was a beautiful hanging fern. I started to sweat a little.

I finally got to the front of the line and there I saw the neon colored paper sign. One day special on top soil, 89 cents a bag. A sale! I hadn't counted on that. I was going to be short of spending $25 to get $10 off. My truck's limit is 25 bags (1,000 pounds) so I couldn't get more top soil. I needed to buy something else for about three dollars. I got out of line.

I went around the tables with the three dollar perennials, but none of the plants seemed quite right. They weren't big hanging ferns. I made my way to the ferns. Many of them were still in their protective wrapping. The staff had not had a chance to mis-handle them or not water them for days on end. I succumbed. I bought one.In my defense... do I really need a defense? I'm sure you all understand and have been in a similar situation and would have done the same thing.

When I shop for plants, I have an idea of what I want and then go and see what the garden centers have. Occasionally, I go to a garden center with no intention of buying plants, but end up with a plant anyway. When I want something specific, I mail order it or start it from seed.

What kind of a plant shopper are you?


  1. I usually know what I want when I go to the garden center since I just can't afford to buy everything that looks good. The only exception is when I'm buying annuals, and then I just have an amount in mind and I buy until that is filled up. But there's always more plants that are calling to me!2kids-AH

  2. Great haul, Carol! You bought 15 bags of soil, and have 10 free bags plus a fern.

    I'm a pretty stodgy shopper - going for mulch or compost would be a planned trip for me, I'd look for a coupon, too.

    There'a a running mental list of plants I'd like to grow, so that if they show up on sale, I check something off the list - like my recent 'Julia Child' rose purchase! The most impulsive buy in the last year was a Gardenia that was half price.

    Happy Gardening Vacation 2007!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  3. I just buy plants. Garden centers are an irresistible magnet for me. I don't have to to even need a plant and I will buy a plant, or ten. I buy plants even when I don't have spots for them in my garden. They sit in their pots waiting for a home, and some of them never get one.

    I'm terrible. I need help.

    Great haul by the way. Sales rock.

  4. I am an impulse buyer. I also tend to buy the plants that have been abused and mishandled, because I like to think that I can 'save' their lives. About half of the time I can, the other half they go to plant heaven.

  5. I always go with a definite mental list of what I want and I'm pretty good about sticking to my list. Most of the time, anyways. Occasionally stuff jumps into my cart when I'm not looking. Congrats on the fern. I would have done the same thing.

  6. When I go shopping for plants, I try to think what my big sister, Carol (does anyone know her?) would buy. Sometimes I call her while I am standing there looking at a cool plant, only to have her tell me I already have that plant-- if I would just pull the weeds around it, I would fine it hidden in the garden. If I'm REALLY lucky, I get to go with her, then I buy whatever she buys, because I know it is a unique and wonderful plant if she eyes it.

  7. Totally chaotic. I'm easily distracted by pretty colors.

  8. Very pretty, your fern. Impulse buying is bad? :-)

    I'm mostly staying away from garden centers this year, because I have a huge new space to fill, and vowed to myself I wouldn't fill it with cash from my bank account. I was totally undisciplined when ordering seeds this year, however. A couple hundred seedlings and counting.

  9. Lets put it this way....

    I'm not allowed to walk into any place that sells plants if my hsuband is with me ;)

    However...when he's not around....I SPEND HOURS looking at all the plants and usually walk out with a couple lol

  10. I think about plants for weeks, make lists, highlight catalogs, draw plans, etc. Then my husband says, "Hey, want to run to the nursery?" Then we go and buy a bunch of random stuff. I don't know what type of plant shopper that makes me.

  11. A good garden center depends on impulse buying. While a customer might come for a bag of potting mix, if we have done our job right they will leave with a few other items. Who walks into a candy store and doesn’t walk out with a little extra. The way we differentiate ourselves from Lowes and its kind is to have plants you don’t see there. We can’t compete with the price so we don’t compete. Carry what they don’t have and don’t worry when Carol makes an occasional stop at Lowe’s. She’ll be back.

  12. Carol, I have that same card waiting to be used! And I was going to buy another shop light for the seed-growing stand, but they were out of the one I wanted. I think the card will now go towards a new sump pump. But I usually don't think of plants when we get one of those cards in the mail.

    Normally I mail order plants and think very carefully about what I buy. If we had better quality nurseries perhaps I would have more fun impulse shopping.

  13. I'm a terrible plant shopper. I do look for a few certain annuals that I like but otherwise I go to every nursery around and buy what ever catches my eye. Then I have to figure out what to do with it!

  14. All... what if we all went to a garden center together? Would that garden center ever be the same again? A bunch of 'slightly' obsessed gardeners exclaiming over all the plants, telling each other to 'buy that', 'get 3 of those', or 'you can't pass that up!'.

    We'd be a garden center's dream... they'd have a record sales day!

    Thanks all for the comments!

  15. For me it really depends on the time of year. In the early spring, when the weather is still cool, I can't resist the garden centers and do impulse buy. In the summer I don't really want to be planting much so I usually can go in and buy specifically what I went for. In the fall I am more disciplined, but if mums, asters, or other perennials are on sale, I'm usually a sucker. Today I went to three different places looking for trellises, (didn't find anything I liked) and came home with 4 little pots of creeping Jenny, which I had been looking for.

  16. Robin... be very careful with the creeping Jenny. I planted just one pot of it, and have fought it ever since. It is a fast spreader...

    I'm looking for trellises, too!

  17. Carol, I usually have a mental list of specific plants I want (need) but on that list is a spot for "wow, gotta have it!" That's for those plants that call to me while wandering around the garden center.

    I've also been known to put them in my cart and then change my mind before check-out. That gives me time to "cool down" from the initial thrill of spotting it and perhaps realizing it has some need I know I'll never fill. Like consistently moist soil? Not in my garden!

    Good buy on your bags of soil. Darn, I think I had that coupon, wonder what I did with it?

  18. Completely impulsive, no doubt. I'm with you - seed catalogs are for what you need (you know, like desperately need) in contrast to what you don't need but really think you do need in the moment (okay, you get my point I hope!).

  19. Carol, thanks for the warning. The creeping Jenny is in my containers. Hopefully they will stay there. I love how it looks spilling over the side of a container.

  20. I've been there. I just did that last weekend. Went to the gardeniing center to buy impatiens to go in front of my Hosta's and came back with them and strawberries too. :)

  21. I usually go with something specific in mind, my last trip involved buying some herbs for herb pots, but I know I'll see stuff I like-- and I really need some fun annuals for the big pots... etc , and etc, and then there are the deals, the unexpected and new...

  22. Well done on the shopping Carol, you got a very good deal there. And why would you want to defend buying that gorgeous fern? Go on, and treat yourself to something nice every now and again. How much was the fern BTW?

  23. I am more convinced than ever that I want to go plant shopping with all you garden bloggers. We would wreak havoc on the garden centers.

    Yolanda Elizabet... since you asked, the fern was $12.98. I remember when my Dad used to buy them for $5.00!

  24. I have gotten to the point (lack of space) where I usually should have a plan in order to buy a plant...or I may not find a place to put it. That being said, however, I almost always see something new/interesting I really want and then I convince myself it's OK. Then I feel a little guilty...most likely like anyone who gives in to their addiction. And then I plant it quick before my husband least I keep to 4inch pots now...I don't need to fill anything in quick!


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