Plant Guarantees: Many gardeners are familiar with them. The young cashiers remind us in their lovely rehearsed speech during our purchases. I would say they have now become an industry standard, being offered by nurseries, garden centers and even big box stores. And they offer it all in an effort to attract customers, keep customers happy and to keep us coming back to them. Since, if we are there getting a replacement or a credit, then we are more apt to purchase something else, right?
Now, I understand why customers like the guarantee or warranty on live plants. There are just so many more variables than the warranties that we receive on our other purchases like appliances and electronics. Plants need to be planted in a timely manner and watered at the very least.
What I am wondering is if these warranties have made us better gardeners?
Do you ask someone at the nursery about the plant or really read the plant tags (although tags are a whole other issue) before buying the plant for your garden? Or, do you think, “Oh, that’s nice, let’s see if it grows for me”? And if not, I can just get my money back right?
I have been reading through a few garden sites about this topic and it seems most people are hesitant to return a plant assuming that it was their fault that it didn’t make it. A few people took it back, no matter what or where it was from, and a couple even confessed to just not liking the plant, so they dug it up and returned it.
I, myself, have almost teared up while shopping at a nursery and watching customers carrying in a dead Rose of Sharon, Butterfly Bushes and even ornamental grasses in May. I’m a plant geek, I know. The month of May is so early for those plants and many others. I know for a fact that those plants were still dormant but definitely not dead.
The biggest factor in considering if you should return a plant should be the weather. If it has been a cooler-than-expected Spring and evening temperatures are still in single digits, then the plants are still just waking up. There will always be a few early risers to confuse things, but for the most part, be patient.
Keep that in mind in the future as nearly all the ornamental grasses need warm temperatures to start growing.
Cut them back in May and then wait a few weeks to see the new growth. They will literally grow in front of your eyes to reach their height for the season! The biggest exception to this rule is Karl Forester Ornamental grass, one of the best features for me is its early growth.
As for Fall flowering plants, like Rose of Sharon and Butterfly bushes, they also remain dormant well into June waiting for warmer evenings to leaf outwith flowers to follow in August. They are both classic examples of the rush to return something for refund before really learning about the plant.
The other thing I am wondering is in the long run, are these guarantees causing the price of plants to go up? The stores have to cover these losses somehow as they can’t return them to the grower or wholesale nursery for the same refund. I personally guarantee the plants that my clients purchase from me for one year, but replacing these plants is an expense for my business. For my clients, I try to hand pick high-quality plants that, 9 times out of 10, lead long, happy and green lives so that making a return trip is not necessary and you can spend that time relaxing in the garden!
So, the lesson I would like to pass on is to be patient! Wait until thebeginning of June if possible before returning a plant. If you are worried about the date, then take a picture of it and show it to someone at the nursery. If they advise you to wait, then I am sure they will extend the deadline for you (knowing full well that it will be fine and you won’t need to bring it back).
I am always happy to help my network and I respond often to emails with plant questions or Facebook photos posted questioning a plant’s well-being. I do my best to get back to you in a timely fashion, especially through the crazy month of May. There are many other resources on Facebook as well for gardeners/homeowners to share tips, tricks and solutions. The #Gardenchat community is an especially good one.
Help me spread the word so that we can save some plants and help keep the cost of plants from getting out of hand.