Can’t Find the Plants I Need

“Can’t Find the Plants I Need”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

I used to sew a lot. In fact, I used to sew all my clothes. I gradually stopped because I could not buy the fabric I wanted. It seemed that the fabric stores carried mostly home decorator fabrics or fabrics that were not suitable for adult tailored clothing. So, gradually, I stopped sewing.

It seems like the same thing is starting to happen with gardening. I can’t buy the plants I want. My sister and I went on one of our garden field trips this past Saturday. We visited several nurseries (twenty-five miles from where I live) looking for fall bedding plants. I had no intention of buying as many as she was, but I was looking for dark orange pansies and maybe a few violas, pansies, or petunias to put in large containers for spots of color. I particularly wanted the orange pansies for Halloween and Thanksgiving containers. They also can be wintered over for the “pot of gold” for St. Patrick’s day as I did last year.



Of course, these were not to be found. Most nurseries had fall bedding plants (not a big selection) but they were all in four inch pots. This early in the fall this far South, six packs can be planted and are more economical, but we have noticed that it is becoming harder to find the six packs be it early fall or early spring. When a four inch pot is $1.25 and a six pack is $1.58 the choice is evident especially if there is a large area to be planted.

The next problem is the condition of the plants. Oh sure they look good – green, leafy, and flowering, but there are no roots. I checked one flat by gently tipping a small plant out to see the root system and there was none. No roots showing at all. Because they are fertilized by the grower so much, the plants only look good but are actually weak. This is why many die quickly, and money, time and effort is wasted. Also, several nurseries had not watered their plants yet, and even though it was only ten in the morning, some plants were already showing signs of wilting. Once a plant wilts, its roots are damaged.

Only one nursery we visited had any six packs. My sister was able to buy her violas, dianthus, and other plants. I only purchased two six packs of ornamental cabbage and some red leaf lettuce.

I am planting more perennials, so you would think this wouldn’t bother me, but for color you can’t beat the annuals. I do not want to plant the big swaths of annuals anymore, but I would like a few spots of color. I know that many businesses say that the economy is stopping people from buying, but I find it is often that businesses are not stocking what people want to buy. If the plant selections and size would have been what I was looking for, I would have spent the money.

It turned out to be a rather frustrating day. I wonder if other areas of the country are experiencing the same thing. Are you finding the plants you want, in the size you want, and in a condition that indicates the plant will survive? I love gardening, I just hope it doesn’t end up like my sewing. A victim of not being able to find the right materials.



  1. October 11, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    I think some years the plant assortments are just not there. I am planning on asking my favorite independent garden center to get specific plants….maybe you can do likewise.

  2. cindydyer said,

    October 12, 2011 at 11:36 am

    I feel your pain, Jan! I can identify with the problems you’re having. I thought at first it was the economy, too, but not so sure anymore. Janet’s idea was good—if the garden center gets enough requests about particular plants, maybe they will request them on their next order. We have a guy who sets up a plant shop on a corner nearby and if tell him we always buy such-and-such, he makes sure to have it available the rest of the season.

  3. Susan said,

    October 12, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    I feel the same way. It is often hard to find the right colors, too. I have been trying to find dark red petunias but there is only a light red available this year. I prefer the six packs also if I plant early in the season.

  4. Garden Mary said,

    October 12, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    I am so tired of buying bedding plants and then having them slowly die. I bought two flats of wax begonias early this summer and could not believe such pretty, green plants had hardly any roots. When I went to plant them, half the soil stayed in the pot. It is becoming frustrating. Several of my gardening friends are talking about trying to start their annuals from seed because they are so disgusted with the lack of variety or health of plants.

  5. Francis G said,

    October 13, 2011 at 4:45 am

    It is the same here. I don’t know what has happened. I like to have big sweeps of color, but can’t find the plants. Next summer, I am thinking I may only do foliage plants like sweet potato vines, coleus, and caladiums. At least I can dig up the caladiums and save them for the next year.

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