Shopping for Plants

Supposedly, you should never go grocery shopping when you are hungry because you are likely to buy more food than you need.

And you are supposed to write up a grocery list while you are still at home and then stick to it at the grocery store to avoid over spending.

Please note that these "rules of shopping" do not apply to shopping for plants.

First of all, after a long winter, your appetite and hunger for new plants can't be satisfied until you go shopping for them.

And lists? It's fine to have a list for the "staples" of the garden that you might need, like tomato plants, but it is pretty limiting to stick to a list when you don't know what new and exciting plants you'll find at the garden center.

What a fuddy-duddy of a gardener you would be if you saw a plant that was different, that you'd never seen before, that you wanted, and then you checked your 'list' to see if it was on it. And then seeing that it wasn't on your list, you didn't get it.

Of course it wouldn't be on your list, you didn't know about it until just that minute when you saw it. But that shouldn't stop you from getting that plant you just fell in love with.

(Disclaimer here... what might stop you from getting a new plant is if you know absolutely nothing about it, such as is it invasive, how big will it get, is it really hardy in your area, etc. If you know nothing about a plant, ask some questions before you buy, and the more expensive the plant, the more questions you should ask. When my sister sees a plant she likes but knows nothing about, she calls me. If I don't know anything about the plant, I look it up in one of my books or on the Internet, while she is on the phone, and then tell her yes or no. Sometimes it is "yes, and get one for me, too". Sometimes, unfortunately it is "no absolutely not, and don't come whining to me when that plant takes over your backyard." You might set up a system like that with one of your siblings or a gardening friend when you are out shopping for plants...)

The Exotic Impatien, 'Glow Improved', pictured above was a plant I didn't know about until I saw it at one of my favorite places to buy plants. I was there on Thursday and they did not have these plants. Then I stopped by on Friday afternoon to get just a few more plants for some containers and there they were. Yes, they had just gotten them in. Yes, I should have one or two or three. Yes, I got some.

Which reminds me that they say you should limit your visits to the grocery store to avoid impulse purchases. I do the opposite with garden centers. I like to stop by frequently, especially in the spring, because they might have some new plants that they didn't have the last time I was there. And I wouldn't want to miss out on them.

So my advice is don't shop for plants like you shop for groceries. Give in to your inner gardener and splurge a bit at the garden centers. After all, spring comes only once a year.


For those living around Indianapolis, one of my favorite places to shop for annuals and perennials is a local greenhouse called Court's Yard and Greenhouse. Courtney, the owner, grows a lot of what she sells with the help of her mom and what she doesn't grow, she gets from other local growers. They are located at 609 W. Epler Ave, across the street from Adrian Orchard and during the month of May, they are usually open from 8 AM to 8 PM. If you go, tell them you found out about them from this blog.


  1. as a gardenerd, I google mystery plants on my blackberry while in the store :)

  2. OH! OH! OH! I've been to COURTS! It's amazing and wonderful! I love that place. The people are so very helpful, and they seem to have alot of unusual things. I must go there today. Thanks for reminding me of them.


  3. HI Carol,

    Yes, Courts is a very nice gardening center. Thanks for FINALLY taking me there late last summer. I've already made one stop there, but maybe I'll go by there again today. It's so bright and sunny...a great day to do some weeding and planting.

  4. Good garden shopping advise Carol. I have to take a list the first trip out just so I remember to get the staples one needs. I get so darned excited when I see all the color and form in the green houses and displays I forget to even get the potting soil I need if I don't have a list. Ha..

  5. I LOVE to be enabled--er, I mean, I love to receive gardening wisdom from a gardener so hallowed, feted and decorated as you. And I will do my best to follow it! *grin*

    Congratulations on all of your well-deserved Mousies, Carol. :)

  6. Just google mapped it...looks so cute with the little fence out front and the red/white/blue bunting. 30 miles seems a bit far...maybe I'll have to plan a little road trip to the south side.

  7. Thanks for the tips! I do have a friend in Greenwood...maybe I should make a point of meeting her for lunch and then hit the garden stores after....hmmmm...something to ponder. Happy potting!

  8. Hi Carol,
    Thanks for Bloom Day! It's the push I need to get out there and really pay attention to what's blooming. The name of the first plant on my post that you asked about is POLYGONATUM or Solomon's Seal. I laid on the ground under the plant to get the shot...he he. A gardener's gotta do what a gardener's gotta do!

  9. Wow, that would be useful to be able to look up any info you wanted to know about a plant when you're at the store. That's a good system you've got worked out there. How many headaches it may have saved if people had bothered researching if plants would go wild all over the neighbor's yards as well as their own back yard!

  10. That's an amazing impatiens. I thought it was a begonia when I saw the photo.

    I am appallingly undisciplined when shopping for plants. I go in to get one thing and come out with a car full. Which is OK in the fall, but is really STUPID in Savannah in spring, because anything I plant now will have to be watered for the whole summer and we're going to be away for a month, so it'll all end in tears.

  11. Hi Carol,

    I like to give into my inner gardener and shop for plants when I shop for groceries. That doesn't mean a separate trip to the grocery with plants on my mind... just being open to the possibility that they may turn up anywhere. A couple of minutes browsing the plant stands outside of grocery or hardware stores can send you home with a prize.

    Court's Yard sounds like a fun trip for people on your side of the city. Do the owners know that the most celebrated gardenblogger in the US shops at their nursery?

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  12. Anonymous... Using a Blackberry to look up plants is very garden-nerdy.

    Anonymous 2... Nice try to be anonymous, but I know who you are!

    Sherry at the Zoo... Only one stop, but did you see the picture of the Impatiens I got there? Have you every seen any like that before?

    Lisa at Greenbow... I know that feeling, happens to the best of us!

    Blackswamp_Girl... Thanks for the congrats, and let me know how my advice works out for you and your pocketbook.

    Babs... If you come to the southside, keep in mind that Soules Garden is nearby, too.

    Shelly... I'm impressed that you would lay on the ground to get that nice picture.

    Cinj... I don't even know why garden centers sell plants that run wild through our gardens and the neighbor's, too!

    Karen... Yes, you should stay away from the garden centers this spring. Better to go in the fall!

    Annie in Austin... I've also picked up a few good plants in unexpected places!

    Thanks all for the comments and kind words.
    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  13. Carol,
    I am dying inside---no buying of plants until I move into the new house...yet I torture myself and go to the garden centers and the flower shops...and it kills me everytime to leave empty handed. I take possession of the new place on the 27th and I move in my stuff on the 31st. You better believe I'm going to be shopping on the 28th for some fine flowers.

  14. I have learned through much hilariously bad experience that I am not to be trusted in a nursery unless I have both a list and only a little more cash than necessary to buy everything on that list... I will spend every dollar I bring with me, guaranteed. Under no circumstances do I ever allow myself to bring a credit card! ;D


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