You get what you pay for. I was thinking of this saying and plants while lying in bed. I do not think you get what you pay for when you buy plants. For instance:
- A pack of seed can turn into hundreds of great plants and costs only a few dollars. You have to spend extra work making them into those great plants, but at the same time you have control and know it’s done properly.
- Larger plants cost more, but often just develop transplant shock when you plant them, and their smaller counterparts outgrow them quickly. This is especially true with perennials. I love 4 or 6 inch perennials. I won’t buy a gallon plant unless there is no other option.
- Big box stores often stock from local and reliable wholesalers, but they don’t have the mark-up that many garden centers do.
- Neglected plants are usually knocked way down, but can often quickly be brought back to life.
- More expensive, newer varieties aren’t necessarily better: sometimes the older cheaper ones are.
- If you get starts from neighbors it’s completely free and you know the plant will grow well in your exact location.
My neighbors redid their landscape right after I move here. Later on, I inspected their lawn and was pleasantly surprised to see a turf-type tall fescue. Tall fescue lawns are more drought tolerant, pest resistant, and often just look healthier and greener than their Kentucky blue counterpart. It also still handles traffic well, and the newer turf-types aren’t as stiff and spiky as the regular species. I inquired about there lawn later on and found out the reason they bought it wasn’t because it’s one of the best type of lawns to plant. (They had no idea.) It was the cheaper variety of sod.
Another time I was going to buy perennials. I went to about every garden center and store and finally found what I wanted at Smith’s Marketplace. They had the largest selection of perennials in the area, all in 4 or 6 inch parts, and a fraction of the price of the other garden centers. I noticed that a lot of the perennials came from local wholesalers–reliable companies that grew some of the best perennials to plant in our area. I ended up with better plants than many of the traditional varieties sold in garden centers and for a fraction of the price.
I have also bought plants that are poorly taken care of and succumb to rot or other problems soon after purchasing. I have also bought more expensive plants because it was the exact variety I wanted, or even because I loved the garden center it was sold at. But more expensive doesn’t mean it’s better.