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txmarti

Have you been to your local nursery lately?

TxMarti
13 years ago

I went to one today & was shocked to see such a limited selection and a lot of stuff looked like it had been there all winter. I don't know if it was dead or just dormant in it's pots, but it didn't look good.

I hope this isn't another sign of the economy.

Comments (20)

  • knittlin
    13 years ago

    Where are you located, Marti? Anywhere near Austin by any chance? I work at the Natural Gardener and we've been getting deliveries of new plants for a few weeks now. We do have to refuse some plants because they look like you describe ~ like the grower overwintered them outside and they haven't recovered yet. I wonder if the nursery you went to is thinking that's all they can get, so are accepting plants like that?

    It could maybe also be that the nursery is thinking it's still too early to order in new plants. A plant in a pot is more susceptible to freeze damage than one in the ground of course (harder to keep well watered, well fertilized, etc., so that it can withstand it), so if a potted plant goes through more than a couple freezes it's likely to look not-so-good, especially if the nursery workers aren't keeping on top of the watering and feeding. We have a fast turnover rate on plants at NG, so they don't have to sit in the nursery long and might go through one or two freezes before they're sold, plus it's drilled into our heads by our bosses that the only thing more important than feeding and watering and caring for the plants is helping customers, so our plants tend to look really good until sold (there are always exceptions ~ some plants just insist on looking sad this time of year no matter what we do ;). Other nurseries I've worked at and shopped at don't sell them quite that quickly, so maybe they just don't want to chance it and are waiting another couple/few weeks before getting new plants?

  • trsinc
    13 years ago

    Well, let's just face it. The Natural Gardener is the best nursery there is in Austin!! lol It takes me an hour and a half to get there but I always make the trip a couple times a year. I love that place.

    All I have near me are lowes, home depot, ace, etc. and they only have good looking plants in spring and part of summer (the ones near me, anyway - I have been to some that have better looking plants). I haven't been to Red Barn lately but in prior years they didn't have much this early. Not even things like bone meal, manure etc. They are (or were) on the "traditional" gardening schedule.

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  • debndal
    13 years ago

    I think it's still a little bit early to have much selection. Most people I see in my neighborhood don't really start doing much gardening until April - I'm usually the earliest one out getting things ready for spring. But I even noticed last year that many of the nurseries I usually frequent didn't have the selections they had in previous years. I got some garden helebores on sale last week in small pots for $3.80 each. They were small, but one was in bloom. Not named varieties, but I like them in the shade cause they are evergreen and make the winter garden look not so dead. Usually helebores are pretty pricey, so to me that was an early find.

  • cynthianovak
    13 years ago

    I stopped at Lowe's here in ARlington this afternoon.

    Our average day of last frost is March 17th so it's a little risky to start planting tender plants yet. They had lots and lots of pansies that look good.

    I was hoping for some bluebonnets in 6-packs. I found lots and lots of preplanted pots of tulips and hyacinths that are still quite young but won't care if there's a frost.

    I was surprised to see geraniums, petunias and zinnias of all things! There were kalanchoes too. These were all in the store itself and had just been delivered. They have veggies outside.

    My favorite nursery doesn't start getting spring plants in until March, so haven't been there.

  • lou_spicewood_tx
    13 years ago

    It's never too early for trees and shrubs though. In my experience, trees do better if you get them planted before spring growth compared to planting in march-may after they have leafed out.

    I;ve been to Natural Gardener. Not bad. I would have liked it more if they had sold trees grown in rootmaker/root trapper containers. I'm not a big fan of trees grown in conventional smooth sided containers. Terrible root system to begin with...

  • tesa001
    13 years ago

    zone 8 is such a big zone, i wish we had a better system
    for our zones. even here, in the magnolia/tomball area
    of texas, we dont yet have much in the nursuries

    friday, at the arbor gate, they had tons of bluebonnets

    i did notice they had tons of beautiful herbs awating good
    homes, but no bedding type stuff to speak of, with each
    passing day, we get closer and closer to our last frost
    dates

    tesa

  • PKponder TX Z7B
    13 years ago

    Not much here yet either. I think it's too early.

    Lou,
    Do you think that the rootmaker pots are more expensive that ordinary nursery pots? That may be a reason that those pots are not used widely. Most people are looking for a deal when they shop for plants and will pass over more expensive plants for a deal. RootMaker seems to be keeping their prices a secret....I went to the website and saw products, testimonials, ect, but no prices!!

  • lou_spicewood_tx
    13 years ago

    Pkponder,

    You need to set up an account to see the prices now. It's a new website now. On the old website, they used to show prices. I'm not sure why the change now. Yes the containers,etc are a bit more expensive but worth it. Chambersville Tree Farm north of Dallas sells trees grown in rootmaker/root trapper bag to retail. Worth every penny for much superior root system. Much faster root establishment cutting down establishment time before you'd see growth at the top. You just take the container off and drop it in the planting hole. No root circling at all. Large trees grown in smooth sided container take forever to get established with major root circling problems. No stability either so you'd have to stake them forever. You don't with rootmaker trees because of hundreds of roots waiting to grow out in every direction right away when they are planted.

    I'd say that most nurseries are still stuck in their old ways and do not understand the importance of having properly development of root system. Oaks in white family have the worst root system grown in smooth sided containers of all the trees I've seen.

  • knittlin
    13 years ago

    For years, that's how I've felt about it, Trsinc! Ever since it was Gardenville. Only bad part about working there is I buy so much stuff that I might as well endorse my paycheck and hand it back to them. *snicker* I get to see the plants as soon as they come off the truck, so it's sometimes hard to resist. I'm currently fighting the urge to take home a couple of the fuschias in hanging baskets we just got last week. It helps that I jumped up in the truck and picked up some broken limbs and they're sitting on my propagation table right now. I hope they root.

    I agree with you, Lou, but nurseries are at the mercy of the growers. We can only suggest that they use a certain type of pot, not insist. I'm not involved in ordering, so I don't know if there are growers around here using them widely, but I don't think so or I'd imagine we'd carry them. I have seen a few trees in them in our tree and shrub section.

    I do know that NG's owner, John Dromgoole, does advise against digging a smooth-sided hole when planting a tree. He just demonstrated it on tv the other day, on the Central Texas Gardener I think it was ~ he showed how to use a sharp-shooter shovel and/or rock bar to make a hole with very uneven edges and explained how that helps the roots take off into the surrounding soil instead of circling.

  • denisew
    13 years ago

    I went to my local nursery back in January and got some really good deals on "dormant plants." I bought a bunch of gallon sized perennials for $1 each! They were very much alive - just last year's shipments and most of them were dormant. They had some great perennials too - Turk's cap, Hinkley's columbine, rock rose, purple coneflower, artemesia, etc.

  • PKponder TX Z7B
    13 years ago

    Some of the best perennials I have were purchased dormant. They were cheap because the nursery was tired of watering them.

  • mandib
    13 years ago

    I love Natural Gardener!!! I haven't been yet this season because now that I live in Lakeway I drive by the Sunshine Garden center daily and they have very few, sad looking plants, so I assumed NG was the same. I picked up a few pansies at Lowes, but need to get going on shrubs soon!

    Looks like I might treat myself to a trip to NG later this week. So exciting!!

  • Redthistle
    13 years ago

    I went to two local nurseries (Plantescape Gardens and the Great Outdoors) this weekend and to the Natural Gardener (NG) two weekends ago and several times before that. Slowly, but surely, they are all getting their plants in.

    Vegetable plants at the NG seemed to go quickly this year but perhaps that's because I'm fairly new to veggie gardening and don't know any better. The Great Outdoors say they will get strawberries in this coming week.

    I have to say I'm a local nursery hoe. ;-) I go to them all depending upon what I need and how quickly I need it.

    I feel very lucky to have such great nurseries where I live.

  • lou_spicewood_tx
    13 years ago

    knittlin,

    I have actually seen bald cypress trees in 5 rootmaker gallon at NG but unfortunately, they have been there too long last time I saw them. I was happy to see that anywhere as it was first time I've seen it sold at retail nurseries. We have two or three large wholesale nurseries in Texas growing them that way but I never could find out where exactly they ended up. I know there is one in Austin that are selling trees in rootmaker containers but from what I was told, they aren't exactly doing it right (trying to do it organically). Chambersville sells nice ones grown in large root trapper bags. Unfortunately, I grow better looking ones in 5g size because they insist on using organic fertilizer that is very hard to do. The root trapper bags are white so it stays much cooler than the rootmaker plastic container that is black and gets much hotter in the summer. It is much easier to grow plants organically in the ground than above ground.

    I really wished that everybody had followed John Dromgoole's suggestion. That is number 1 mistake I've ever seen anywhere. No wonder why trees look bad. I always dig an ugly hole, just chopping up soil before planting trees.

    Here are a couple trees that I had taken pictures of its progress since 2006 when I did that...

    Fire Dragon
    Shantung maple Lowe's

    Click on them to see the album of pictures. A lot of neighbors seemed surprised how much they grew despite the drought we had. I watered deeply every 2-3 weeks whenever it's not raining and it's hot. It worked much better than neighors' 3 times a week for few minutes. I guess they didn't realize that it takes a lot more water to make a difference. 600 gallons of water per 1000 sqft is same as getting 1 inch of rainfall... They always give me the look when I tell them that...

  • TxMarti
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    I'm near Waxahachie. I wish they did have sale prices on their dormant plants, but I didn't see any signs.

  • knittlin
    13 years ago

    Come on by, Mandib! We've been getting lots of deliveries. Ten trucks or more a week (and man I feel it ~ I have to help unload every single one ;). Many of them are vegetable plants (got 350 flats of tomatoes and peppers alone last week) and perennials, but also many shrubs and trees.

    "Vegetable plants at the NG seemed to go quickly this year but perhaps that's because I'm fairly new to veggie gardening and don't know any better." Nope, Redthistle, they really are going quickly. It's amazing ~ half of those tomatoes and peppers I mentioned above were gone by Friday at closing (only a day or two!), along with fully 1/3 of the fifty or so flats of strawberries. If you want to get in on the best selection, sign up for the newsletter next time you're in the store (look for the stand with the clipboard to the left of the bathrooms) and be sure to come in on a Friday morning. Most deliveries are on Wednesdays and Thursdays, so best selection is on Friday morning. The newsletter goes out on Thursdays and lists what we got that week. If it's hard for you to get in on Friday mornings, it's best to call before you come just to make sure what you want is still there.

    And here's a tip on picking good tomato and pepper plants ~ look for the seed leaves. If they're still there and nicely green, that's a sign that the plant has been treated very well. Those seed leaves are very susceptible to mistreatment, yellowing or browning at almost the slightest thing, so if they're there you can rest assured that the plant wasn't severely overwatered, underwatered, overfed, etc. Of course if the tomato plant was buried extra-deep when it was transplanted, the seed leaves will be buried and you won't be able to tell, but it holds true on most plants.

    An ugly hole ~ PERFECT description of it, Lou_Midlothian. Ha!

    "...but unfortunately, they have been there too long last time I saw them." How can you tell, Lou? I'm not doubting you ~ I'm trying to pick up tips anywhere I can get them.

    And which growers use those pots? I'd love to know so I might could bring it up to the people who do the ordering. They probably have reasons for not ordering from them (they like to order from smaller, local growers, so maybe that's it), but then again it might be that they just don't know about them.

    Good job on planting and caring for those trees, too, Lou. They look GREAT! It looks like you avoided another common mistake ~ burying the root flare. Did you prune off the lower branches, too? I like doing that as it really does make those trees jump up out of the ground, doesn't it?

  • lou_spicewood_tx
    13 years ago

    knittlin,

    The container mix was low due to decomposition of the organic matter. it just basically sunk down. It looked like it had bee in the container a little too long. Not good because it only can stay in the rootmaker for so long before you ended up "overdevelopment" of root system due to many, many branches of roots that ran out of room in the container caused by air root pruning.

    Chambersville Tree Farm in north of Dallas is one place that uses rootmaker/root trapper bag. They practice organic method so that may suit Natural Gardener's organic principle just fine. I think they are the only one that have large trees in 30,35,60 root trapper bag. I've bought montezuma cypress in 30g roottrapper bag and the root system was very nicely developed. No circling roots.

    Rennerwood nursery out in the east Texas grows liners in them. Athens Tree Farm in Northeast Texas is another one.MC Landscape Trees in Teague, TX. There may be a couple more but I don't remember. Chambersville is the only place that would sell trees to retail.

    You're right about root flares. A lot of trees do not have them. In fact, when I moved into my house 4 years ago, the builder planted ugly live oak and I had to get rid of it. Turns out that it was buried 8 inches too deep! Root girlding is a big problem though esp oaks grown in smooth sided container. The roots would bounce back and grow around the stem in the mix. You can't see it at first until next year when the mix have decomposed. I had to prune off offending roots. That being said, I'd much rather get oaks grown in rootmaker/root trapper bags so I don't have to hack off offending roots that would signficantly slow down establishment.

  • rick_mcdaniel
    13 years ago

    Too early yet, for much in the way of spring plants.

  • knittlin
    13 years ago

    "The container mix was low due to decomposition of the organic matter." Ah. Yeah, that's a tip off. But not necessarily a sure-fire one. We got some shrubs in a couple weeks ago that were like that (some only half full even), but when I took them out of the pots to fix it and decide on whether they needed to be potted up, none of them were rootbound, not even close ~ mostly I saw root ends that had just reached the sides. The grower must have been low on mix that day without a delivery in sight.

    "Turns out that it was buried 8 inches too deep!" ARGH! Don't you hate that?!

    Thanks for the tips on growers, Lou. I think they're all too far away from us, but I'll mention them anyway (especially the organic one).

    Now I think I'd better quit hijacking Marti's thread (Sorry, Marti! *blush*).

  • austinwildflower
    13 years ago

    Knittlin--I LOVE the Natural Gardener, you must have fun working there. It's a drive for me but I probably visit once a month. I've learned so much from people there. Even John Dromgoole has helped me before; it's really just a special place. There are so many special nurseries in Austin, I am thankful for them.

    As far as nursery stock goes, I was a little disappointed in late fall to see how little perennials were around. I went to four different local nurseries, and the perennial tables were so small. (I couldn't find a butterfly bush anywhere, and I went to several nurseries throughout October and November.)

    I'm with pkponder, most of my best perennials were planted semi-dormant; I don't mind buying things that are sticks. I did a major landscape overhaul last summer and I really wanted to plant all my major perennials in the fall after things cooled off. I know it doesn't make much sense economically as most people wouldn't be attracted to buying a semi-dormant plant that looks dead, but they survive the summer so much better when I plant in fall. Most of the stuff I planted last April really struggled in our drought. I know that most people still think of planting season as April, but now I do most of my work in fall and winter.

    also--a great place to get early spring native perennials is at the Ladybird Johnson Center spring sale, which is usually mid-March. I'm a member just so I can get in early ;).

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