A new disturbing practice for some Lowes garden centers

madgardener_ETN(Z7 SE TN)March 29, 2004

There is a new disturbing practice for some Lowes garden centers and I thought I'd share it with you and see how many notice this, this year. The thread about Home Depot having their employee's spraying the unsaleable plants orange to keep people from dumpster diving for them when they tossed them out was an alert. But just yesterday I discovered a whole shipment of COLUMBINES sitting out in the south and western nursery front on the tables in the blazing sun. I mentioned to the plant specialist that these plants needed to be under the shade building in the nursery and they told me that when they contacted corporate headquarters with this, and that the "planogram" was inaccurate, he was told that "we know where we want the plants this year. Put them where we tell you, so that customers will see them and buy them and there won't be as many plants to throw out and in loss."

Now we all know that within reason, Columbines or Aquelegia's are semi shade loving flowers. I have some wilder varieties of yellow and red that can take direct southern and western exposure but I suspect it's because their roots are shaded by the foliage of my other plants. These plants will fry. And look horrid. And as for inspiring customers to buy them and less loss, they're very wrong. The sun will dry up the soil less mix, dry out quickly in the plastic pots where those roots are already filled up in there from the fertilizers they feed the plants in the greenhouses.

This practice has to stop. The only way they will cease this is when we write, e-mail or call them and complain. Logic and common sense tells most of us that Columbines like a semi shady spot and that full, South and Western sunlight even if it is the Spring exposure will make these plants die a fast and horrible death. Lowes will listen to their customers because they care about them. I've made my call already......


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JudyL(8 OR)

I had the same experience at another chain store on a visit to Billings MT last year. I don't remember exactly what the plants were, but they were sitting on pallets on concrete in full sun - and cooking! I told the clerk that these were shade plants, and basically got told to mind my own business. They had the sun plants in shade, by the way. I left without buying anything.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2004 at 8:54AM
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until people can pass up a "deal" at one of these places and decide to shop elsewhere, these stores have little reason to change their ways.

Ya gotta put your money where your mouth is.....

    Bookmark   March 29, 2004 at 10:36AM
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Most of those big chains solicit customers suggestions by little postcards or forms available in the store.
I would think suggesting to them that when gardeners and plant lovers see the shade-lovers being fried, they would wonder how well maintained the whole department is - and "I definitely will not buy any plants from you unless I can see that ALL of your nursery stock is properly cared for"

    Bookmark   March 29, 2004 at 2:03PM
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acs326(z6 Central Ohio)

Lady Nikki you make a good point. Telling the sales staff, or even the manager, may seem like a reasonable thing but they're too far down in the food chain to make a difference.

When it comes to box stores the decisions about what products to sell, and how to sell them, are made at the corporate level - so that is where we should direct our complaints. And the suggestion form is as good a way as any to do that.

Taking my money elsewhere is the ultimate criticism, but corporate offices won't notice that anyway. Maybe backing that up with written complaints from multiple customers will have more impact.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2004 at 9:24PM
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dellingd(z7a OK)

I have to agree with the general thought in this thread. I work in one of the Big Chain Stores (not a lawn and garden store thankfully). I have to agree that the customers have to send in comment cards, write letters, and make phone calls to the Corperate Offices to make any changes at the store level. All the merchandise in the store, inside and outside, is set according to a "planagram" sent to the stores from Corporate. There is very little if any leeway given to make changes to any planagram at the store level. This includes the store manager. Corporate level management cares very little what the employees or even store management have to say. Each store will receive a copy of any complaint made about the store by customers if it involves store personell but nothing about store policy. The store can make changes in personell, but has no input as to store policy. If a manager tries to make suggestions about store policy, very many times, he is replaced with someone who will not question policy, but do exactly what he is told. The people that work in the stores are in no way responsible for where anything is placed or how long it stays there. I have worked in retail for quite some time and it gets harder all the time to turn the other cheek when customers berate and put me down on a personal level for what Corporate makes me do. I have had customers use the approach which started with "I feel that . . ." and end with ". . . wouldn't you agree?" and it is such a pleasent suprise. I usually respond with "If you will write to Corporate, they will listen to you much more than they will to me". As soon as someone says "You need to . . ." the defensiveness jumps up very quickly. I am not rude in any way to the customers who blame me personally but I have to admit I do not listen to what they have to say either. It may not be the right thing to do, but it is human nature to tune them out and find someone else to help who appreciates what I can do to help them.
The approach is everything in these situations and by giving a little respect to the employee you would be amazed at the response and the help you will receive. I have approached employees at both Home Depot and Lowes with respect and have only received respect in return. I have no doubt I will recieve some, if not a lot of, flack for this post, but I will stick with what I have said. My point is to write and call the Corporate Offices about the paractices at their stores and there may be some changes made, if enough of us follow through.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2004 at 6:56PM
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madgardener_ETN(Z7 SE TN)

That is the most elloquent and mature response to how to deal with this problem and many more in Lowes or Home Depot I've seen in a long time. Thank you dellingd! I too feel pretty defensive when someone approaches me with "you need to......" but repond more when someone turns it around. My husband keeps telling me there are no problems only solutions but it's not always that black and white.

I happen to work in a chain store with a lawn and garden department and know exactly what you are saying. You've hit it on the head. The response to the shade or sun loving plants (they are putting herbs under the shade area..........HUGE SIGH.................) being in the absolute wrong place is "we know where we want them, stay out of this or leave" basically.

When did people become so self righteous? There's nothing wrong with being wrong or making mistakes, but apparently there are more and more people becoming this way.

I have a little bit of common sense when it comes to gardening and a lot of learned experience and am still learning, but this smacks of total irresponsibility and disregard for obvious solutions. You and I know that if they were to pay attention to proper placement of plants, people would buy more, return for more and shop for other things.

I grow tired of the apparent lack of common sense and just desire to make money. I work for a company that I thought cared about their people and customers. Obviously not.

Is it time to move to New Zealand?

On a last gardening note...........today I distinctly heard a customer telling a whole wad of other customers while waiting in line that with complete lack of care for where tender plants belonged told them that the store just didn't care about quality. And they remarked and got support when they all agreed with each other, said they were going to another chain store or shop at a small nursery down the road where the owners cared about the plants and sold quality at decent prices. Well there you go. They walked out. Leaving baskets of flowers and if more people put that kind of action towards something that is very apparently wrong, there'd be better solutions. Like placement of plants in proper areas and what not.

I mean, it's not like trying to figure out where to put toilets.....or lumber. It's plants that require specifics. And they guarantee their plants for a year. It's ludecrous. I've said enough. I'll stop now. Thanks for the feed back. It was truely inspiring. You seem to have a great grasp on things. Where do you garden and what do you grow?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2004 at 10:35PM
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Large chain store can become like a gigantic machine with robot-like employees if those running it allow that to happen. Those who say that when people quit going to those "big-box" store, it won't be noticed, I don't believe that's so. Those big chains get reports constantly on sales figures. If you quit them, be sure "corporate" knows why and hold your ground until things change. I've quit Walmart already!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2004 at 9:33AM
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quitting Walmart, A-MEN

    Bookmark   March 31, 2004 at 11:26AM
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My guess would be that at corporate level they find that the live plants are not selling so they stop handling them altogether. Maybe a good thing?

    Bookmark   March 31, 2004 at 12:58PM
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dellingd(z7a OK)

I live in Oklahoma City and have very little time and experience in gardening, but I'm learning. Right now we have quite a few Airplane plants (25 starts from mother plant), a Mother-In-Law Tongue plant, a Rubber Tree, and some starts from a Donkey Tail plant that we brought back from Wisconsin in January. Just a start though, plan on a garden with things to eat next year and a couple of retaining walls in front and some Hostas in back.
Quick question, do tulips only bloom once per season? Have some in a half buried bathtub in the front yard and are beautiful, but not sure about how long they will bloom.
Dave & LaDonna

    Bookmark   March 31, 2004 at 3:56PM
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madgardener_ETN(Z7 SE TN)

well despite Wally worlds practices, I have to shop there because where I live its way more affordable than driving further distances to get better products. Price of gasoline and all. To address the question. Tulips only bloom once per season. A little bulb food and the leaves will feed the bulb for next year and hopefully it is the kind that will return. Come fall, some time release bulb food will help them, but not all tulips are perennial. Plant some daffodils and other little fall bulbs in there this fall for perennial showings instead. I have lots of pots of bulbs and perennials scattered around my property and still going strong and doing more of them all the time.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2004 at 4:09PM
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thorspippi(z9/s14 CA Sacramento)

ok, I've been thinking about this thread for 3 days now. I know I'm probably not going to be on the popular side of this thing, and I've been wracking my brains trying to figure out a respectful/diplomatic/tactful way to word this, but I don't think I'm going to be successful at it:

Does it seem to anyone else that this topic is becoming a moral issue?? And isn't that kinda wacky? Wacky's fine, but not when it strays over into Serious Topics.

I can understand if it was simply about filling up our landfills unnecessarily, or introducing toxins (the orange paint) into our landfills unnecessarily, or possibly even about raising prices to cover those losses, but.... I don't have any *sympathy* for plants.

The words "disturbing practice" and "this practice has to stop" sounds an awful lot like anti-cruelty or pollution language.

I, for one, don't care if I torture plants or destroy them before their useful life is through. I play Goddess with my plants and I don't care about that. (ok, well, I'm not such a talented Goddess, but that's a whole 'nother topic!:D).

If some store wants to torture its *own* plants or even on the orders of its supplier, how on earth can this be considered a moral issue?!? It's THEIR PROPERTY.

There is waste in every single vendor on this planet. Wasting plants is probably a very minor issue. Even for those of us (namely me) who are on extremely limited budgets.

ok. Withdrawing for now in case I've started a conflagration.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2004 at 6:18PM
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madgardener_ETN(Z7 SE TN)

you're perfectly right, thorspippi. I never meant this to be a "be kind to our plants" situation. And I'm not completely politically correct. Me and the fairies that tend these constipated flower gardens up here do the best that we can do. You haven't started a conflagration.

I was responding to the post about Home Despot spray painting their plants to keep people from diving for them. I can no more change corporate practices than I can get a pig to fly on it's own wings...

I agree. The plants are theirs to do with as they want to. We as gardeners can only do the best that we can. I was just disappointed when after several good years shopping at Lowes to see that money is a "reason" for misplacing perfectly good plants. I am not some bleeding heart person who thinks that plants have rights. I'm sorry if this became some moral issue. It was never about morality at all. It was just about common sense and good business practices.

I hope spring goes well with you honey. Seriously. I won't bring this topic up again. (Besides, I've seen worse at the local Wally world with their plants.... )

    Bookmark   April 1, 2004 at 12:06AM
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thorspippi(z9/s14 CA Sacramento)

"was just about common sense and good business practices. "

Well, I've never worked in retail -- not counting those few months as a clerk at Foxmoor Casuals some 24!!!!! (whimper) years ago, cuz I was just a young naive twit. My husband and I run our own business (serving commercial customers only and completely unrelated to gardening) so the concepts don't always translate to retail.

"I hope spring goes well with you honey."

Wish me good Goddess Powers against those danged slugs that ate my entire first batch of seedlings.. I'm a rank newbie at gardening and it's already turning the rest of my hair grey.

"Seriously. I won't bring this topic up again."

naw, that's ok. As long as I don't have to save a petunia's life or anything. :-)

"(Besides, I've seen worse at the local Wally world with their plants.... ) "

And here I always thought Wally World was an amusement part somewhere.... I guess I don't get out much!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2004 at 2:35AM
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madgardener_ETN(Z7 SE TN)

it was in Lampoons Vacation, but for a lot of us now it represents WalMart.........I know a LOT of people who like me call it Wally world......... I wish the fairies are kind and gentle and tickle every plant into doing it's best for you at your garden.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2004 at 11:18AM
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thorspippi(z9/s14 CA Sacramento)

WalMart.... DUH! (slaps self on forehead)

    Bookmark   April 1, 2004 at 1:54PM
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dellingd(z7a OK)

Well I can understand how this might be read as being a moral issue, but of course its not, how could it be. H.D. and L. and Wally World own the plants and the plastic planters they are planted in. They are all huge corporations and being as large as they are, they certainly could not do anything immoral.
ItÂs almost like we are grouping them with the companies who are buying land from African tribes and obliterating the Rain Forest which supplies most of the earthÂs oxygen. Oops, those are just trees which are just plants so they are not noteworthy or needed by anyone and certainly could not be construed as being worth worrying about so there is no moral issue there either.
You can believe this or not, this is not a personal attack against any one person, itÂs against the ÂdonÂt care attitude of most of the people in our small world who stand by and seem totally oblivious to the fact we are destroying our own planet. We seem to think that just because a corporation owns something no matter how large or small what they do with any amount of Âtheir property is of no concern to us, the powerless peons who also inhabit this planet.
I am just guessing, but letÂs assume Home Depot has about 1,000 stores, Lowes has about 1,000 stores and Wall Mart has about 3,000 stores. At one can of spray paint per store per day to mark the undesirable oxygen generators (plants) that is about 5,000 cans of spray paint a day, multiplied times 5 months (5 mo x 30 days = 150 days) that comes to about 750,000 cans of spray paint. Now let us throw those 750,000 empty cans into the dumpster and send them happily on their way to the landfill. I donÂt think there is a moral issue with rust and toxic chemicals from those cans going into our ground water. Just a side note, even at $1.00 per can (their cost) this adds up to $750,000 the companies are wasting every year. Guess who picks up the tab for their cost.
Let us not forget about the contents of the cans of spray paint which are now plastered over the previously oxygen generating plants. Just for arguments sake lets say each can of spray paint can cover 100 plants sufficiently to render them useless to any non-profit organization or person who may be able to salvage them. Now we take the 750,000 cans and multiply by 100 which comes to about 75,000,000 plants which have been destroyed for no other reason than the ÂAll Mighty DollarÂ. Are into the range of becoming a moral issue yet.
Lest we forget about the 750,000 cute little PLASTIC containers which the afore mentioned plants are potted in. These are really not much to speak of because in about 250,000 years they may become broken down enough to be useful to our planet as food for further plant growth or as part of some potting soil used to pot some useless plants which can be spray painted and thrown into a dumpster which can go to the land fill and . ...
Believe this or not this is not an attack on the three stores mentioned here or to any individual. This may actually be read by someone who may take some notice of what WE are doing to our planet. Even if we (the individual) are not killing plants, spraying them, and filling our local landfill with manmade toxic waist, we are letting it happen without a care in the world. Most of us are saying to ourselves "Someone (else) should do something but, are not lifting a finger, their voice, or their pen to do anything about this atrocity to our planet.
At one time we respected our planet, the animals living on it, and the plants that give us the air we breathe.
We were once governed by the thought of ÂAlmighty God'.
We are now governed by the "All Mighty Dollar".
I will now retire from my soapbox and resume my usually quiet existance.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2004 at 11:06AM
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dellingd(z7a OK)

Sorry madgardner, didn't mean to kill the thread. I will control my soapbox use in the future.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2004 at 12:16AM
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I agree with dellingd completely, just wouldn't have said it so eloquently. A friend and I have long discussions about the current troubling plight of the world, and he once said that he wasn't afraid of the government, he was afraid of the corporations because that's who runs the government.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2004 at 9:26AM
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dellingd(z7a OK)

Thanks for replying, I thought I had gone too far and said too much. I don't usually get carried away like that. I'm not sure how eloqently I said it, but I thank you for saying so.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2004 at 11:01AM
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byron(4a/5b NH)

~WalMart.... DUH! (slaps self on forehead)

If you do that too many times you will have less hair to comb and more face to wash :-)

I perfer to support my local Garden Shop, who keeps the same employees for 30 something years, that know how to help you.

"He who controls the seeds, controls the world"

Monsanto controls 40%; $100 million in pac money

I'll leave it there

    Bookmark   April 6, 2004 at 11:14AM
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gardenfaerie(z5b Michigan)

What an interesting thread!

Heck, I like a little controversy. I'm a recycler from way back and I would have guessed that this new practice of spraypainting usable plants would offend all of our frugal mentalities. It's just plain wasteful! They could at least compost them (and sell the compost), if nothing else. I think filling out comment cards is a good idea, and a relatively easy thing to do.

Corporations are too big. Even smaller companies that you may think are independent are owned by a larger company that's owned by a larger company. And guess, many of our politicians are controlled by big corporation's money.

But what to do about it?! Therein lies the dilemma. On principle, I like to support local small business. But I am also lower-middle class and money always ends up being a big deciding factor. I do get a lot of plants from trades and seeds and other frugal ways, but occasionally I do buy from Lowe's, especially when they have things on sale. I've gotten lots of nice ornamental grasses for 50 cents! And even at full price, it's way cheaper than the nice local nurseries. Sigh.

Thanks for the bandwidth, Monica

    Bookmark   April 6, 2004 at 6:17PM
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thorspippi(z9/s14 CA Sacramento)

oh the spray paint part it awful. they should chip it/shred it if they want to make sure no one else can have it. And giveaway/sell the plastic pot it came in.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2004 at 2:09AM
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re: choice of going to shop someplace besides the big boxes: i saw george carlin on pbs last night, and he made the point that for a country where we supposedly have "free choice," we really don't. we only have 2 political parties, pepsi or coke, paper or plastic, and several more along this line, all relating to the fact that america is run by the dollar, i.e. huge corporations.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2004 at 9:33PM
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Ronnn(Zone 8)

A tip: If you see a plant at a chain nursery that is not in the proper environment, check it out. If it is still in good condition despite the improper cultural practices, buy it. Otherwise, move on. Getting emotional and complaining about it is gonna fall on deaf ears, and for good reason, often as not. They know already, I assure you. It's all about numbers. It's better to lose 25% of the inventory in the first two weeks, with the other 75% being purchased before the damage becomes a problem, than it is to stick them in an off-traffic area that is more to the plants ideal culture, and lose 50% of them while paying the labor and material costs of maintianing them until they finally sell. And 25 percent will end up potbound, mis-shapen and have to be tossed anyway.

Also, plant inventory changes more frequently throughout a year than about any other department inventory. As this happens, the percentages of plants that like shade and the ones that like full sun vary significantly month to month, season to season. But the general layout of any given nursery is relatively inadaptable.

So it's easy for someone with little or no nursery experience to say "Hey! That plant needs more shade! You guys have it wrong!"

No, they don't, at least from a marketing and potential loss/profit ratio measure. You have not considered the inventory turnover rate of that particular plant. They have. You have not considered whether the primary interest in that particular plant is generated by impulse, or is more often a requested and purposely sought-after item. They have. You have not considered the time the majority of the plant items can likely spend 'out of it's element, and still be viable when weighed against potential loss percentage. They have.
And I could go on, and on, and on.

Lack of these considerations are also why most private nurseries are woefully unprofitable. They don't have a clue where, how, or how long to keep inventory, when marketing has to be considered equally with cultural considerations. They may know plants well but they don't know when to cut their losses or minimise them in the first place. While the best and finest nurseries around are usually individually owned, for every well run, profitable nursery in existence, there are probably 10 that are piss-poorly run, and ofen as not have piss-poor plants, because they hold on to them too long, because they didn't sell well, because they put that shade loving plant back in the shade. where browsers never bother to browse.

There are certain constants in business, and one is "Consumers go to the light". They subsconciously tend to gravitate toward well lit areas when browsing, and tend to unconsciously avoid darker areas. Walmart, Home Depot, and such know this too.

People don't realize it but retailing is a science, and some laws overpower others and it really is generally for the greater good. And moving a ton of plants in a week from a less than ideal display location beats moving a 1/4 ton of them from the proper environment.

A few years back, after listening to the guy who ran a feed store complain constantly about barely keeping afloat, I finally told him why. His layout sucked. For one thing, he had all the feed right near the front door and the counter. He had a little seperate room with "hit-or-miss" tack accesorries tucked away in the back. All the normal feed store supplies were on the shelves closest to the counter behind the feed.

Convenient for the customer, after all, they only had to walk twelve feet to get all they came for, instead of a whole 75 feet. He listened intently as I told him how his layout was costing him BIG. He had no endcaps on his four rows of shelves. Slow moving stuff was dusty. He had plenty of room in his parking lot, yet he had all his larger Livestock feeders, hayrings and stuff out behind his place.

Long story short, the feed got moved to the back where people had to walk back down the aisle, where they could see some 10 dollar wormer and go "dang, I need some of that!" He moved some of his bigger farm equipment out in front of his store, and even knocked down a two small walls so the former tack room was now a highly visible corner in the shop. This was good, because he used to have a little sign that said "please turn light out when leaving tack room". Half the folks who shopped there didn't even know he HAD tack for sale. I'd been in there dozens of times before I knew. I just happened to walk in one day and someone had left the light on, lol.

As for painting the throw-aways orange, I think that is a novel idea to protect profitability, actually. As for composting it, sending a dead or half dead three dollar plant back through the supply chain to compost would be a logistical nightmare. Sure for one or even a few nurseries, that might be practical, but when you have thousands of nurseries it would be a fairly complex, and expensive, undertaking. As for farming it out locally, not likely. There are just so many variables, and one of the ways they offer us such great prices is by keeping policy uniform.

In a nutshell, this thread is essentially much adeu about nothing. They are doing it the same way anyone who knows how to run a profitable business involving thousands of nurseries would be doing it, assuming we were business wise enough to even be in a position tov be running that many. Sam Walton IS the very definition of the American dream, he is to be commended, not vilified. Running a few thousand nurseries is not easy, and overall, I've found Walmart, Lowes, and Home Depot to have nicer plants and a better selection than the majority of private nurseries I've been to, though again the best ones are usually privately run too, but they really aren't that common. "Most nurseries are crap" is not totaly inaccurate.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2004 at 11:15AM
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thorspippi(z9/s14 CA Sacramento)

what's an endcap?

would shredding the plants too expensive instead of painting them orange? (not a leading question)

    Bookmark   April 11, 2004 at 5:35PM
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madgardener_ETN(Z7 SE TN)

an end cap is the end display area at Lowes and Home Depot's where they place items in obvious visibility for quicker sale.Sorry,didn't mean to leave you hanging on that terminology. I'd think that just putting them in the compactor of the store and crushing would have been better and less time consumming than painting them orange. But they'd have to attend to the plants and crush them immediately and as hectic as it gets in these stores lately with the season cranking up also means they might not have time to do even that until later. I guess they figure this way they'll not get plant scroungers or such if they just paint them orange. I don't work for Home Depot,but I'd think that the previous response was why they have to do this.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2004 at 12:44PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

That was a great post Ronnn and I agree completely with you. Interesting bit about the feed store.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2004 at 3:07PM
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thorspippi(z9/s14 CA Sacramento)

ah, thank you madgardener!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2004 at 6:46PM
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nckvilledudes(7a NC)

I agree Ronn, you point out things that people not into the marketing end of businesses don't think about (me included).

    Bookmark   April 13, 2004 at 5:56AM
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you are all correct to be upset about the large chain practicies. they have clauses built into their contract with their suppliers that any unsold plants or ones that die are credited back to the store, so they have no incentive to take care of them properly. complaining to corporate is like ------ in the ocean. stop buying and they may get the message.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2005 at 10:05AM
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I quit a big box store because I couldn't stand the way they treated the plants. Many times, we had dead plants sitting there, and they wouldn't let us throw them out, because they were trying to keep their "numbers" up for the week. I called their garden department "Cram 'em , kill 'em and toss 'em", which was just what it was. The plants were crammed all together and got no air circulation, and overwatered or underwatered, and then just tossed out, because the grower gave them credit for them if they were thrown out. They weren't allowed to mark plants down because they made more money by having them replaced for free.

I work at a real garden center now, and it's so much better.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2005 at 7:15PM
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Why would you buy plants from anyone but a grower? You want an interesting selection, well-grown stock, earth-friendly growing practises, and sometimes some information or help to make your selection. So why buy from anyone but a grower? At a box store, plants are just another commodity. Like shoes, tires, or insecticide.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2005 at 7:53PM
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I am always really reluctant to buy plants from most greenhouses because i feel that i am getting a plant contaminated by fertilizers and pesticides. I still think that trading (especially with friends and family, because I know what has been used on the plants) and growing from seed (organic)is the best bet

BTW- check my list cause if there is anything that you want its all organic- a very good thing to know

    Bookmark   June 23, 2006 at 2:39PM
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glenfawnmary(8 NacogdochesTX)

The fact is that a lot of these "big box stores" have an agreement with the plant suppliers that the dead, unsold, damaged, etc. plants are not paid for. The plant suppliers agree to this because who can get by without selling to the "big box stores? Some of the BIG nurseries in our area, who supply some of the "big box stores", have their own employees who take care of the plants in these stores---NOT Walley -World though! We who love plants [and see that they are suffering!!!] forget that it is just a business and a way to draw in customers and most retailers would rather not have the plants at all and their attitude is that they don't care if they all croak! Best idea is to find out when the plant deliveries are made and go that day-- if there are no other options for plants in your area. Mary

    Bookmark   June 25, 2006 at 1:37PM
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danaoh(SWOhio zone 6)

back to the original orange paint issue - does that kill the plant or, with patience, would it grow and you could eventually cut off the orange part? would be ok if they were perennials.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2006 at 12:49PM
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danaoh, It would depend on how much paint was sprayed. I have accidentally sprayed plants adn they did fine.

My problem with how they take care of their plants is that someone who is just starting out will most likely fail with the stressed out plants they sell. If they want to keep trying they will have to keep buying plants.

I sometimes think the big stores know that and count on it to increase thier sales.


    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 10:48PM
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O, Dear Friends if you only knew..I worked at Lowe's Garden Center. I have a degree in Floral Design and am a Master Gardener, not that that makes me special, I just wanted you to know that I truly have a love of plants. After eight months, I left. The waste....Lowe's has none of its money in the plants. Plant vendors bring them in from various nurseries, when the plants sell the nurseries give Lowes a profit. I was the only one that cared if they were unloaded and placed in the correct light. I have seen them haul thousands of dollars of plants to a crusher so that no one could come at night and get them. That is why at Lowes or WalMart or Home Depot ...the plants are not watered or cared for....my manager said, Lowes calls it the 100 days of Hell. Try to make as much on plants as you can in the high season. Being plant lovers, you can not imagine how upset I would be and sad for the plants. I think you are wasting your time writing. It is all about the money! Big Corporate America!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 3:07PM
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madgardener_ETN(Z7 SE TN)

Good day, evergreen. I was amused that this thread is STILL going and being responded to. (not that I'm surprised, really) I worked at Lowes, in the garden center outside for almost two years, got disgusted with the policies of not enough people at the peak times of the season and did a request for consideration (asked for a transfer to another department) The store manager who was always shocked and sometimes ticked off was constantly telling me that on days I was off, MY customers would come into the store, inquire about "the madgardener who works in the nursery" or that very helpful woman in the neat hat" When she'd inform them I was off for a couple of days, a LOT of them would thank her, and turn around and go back out! (I had revealed early on how to open the automatic doors from the inside to customers who sometimes wanted to leave and the doors don't open from the inside of the entrances) I too am a Master Gardener, and continuing to educate myself about horticulture. I tried not to let corporate practices get in my way, I was more distressed as I went along and worked and saw more and more wastefulness. I became a cashier, was put into the lumber department on the cash register near Commercial Sales where my gardening customers STILL found me and BEGGED me to come back to the garden center. After over two years with Lowes, sheer crap became the reason I walked out after putting in my two weeks notice. They were forcing the cashiers and other employee's to stay well over hours to do what the shifts were supposed to be doing. Top stocking, down stocking, fronting, etc. It had nothing to do with the WORK. I'm not allergic to work, I had begged for more hours, but when my husband who is a truck driver came home, I was his only way home from the truckstop as we only had the one vehicle. It was because they were LOCKING THE DOORS. And I called the local fire marshal and he informed me that sadly as long as the fire exit doors were operable, they could LOCK US IN if they wanted to. Tennessee is a right to work state. One of the last six. They could fire us if we refused to be locked in.

Rather than showing my hind end and leaving thru the fire exit and setting off the alarm (my husband had also come home after being gone for over two weeks and had to pick him up) and knowing that corporate had RULES that said IF YOUR HOURS WERE POSTED, YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO REMAIN unless you WANTED TO. I brought this up with the smart aleck manager who insisted that I'd stay or get fired. I told her my husband and family were more important than being locked in against my will, that this was still America and she couldn't stop me. I took lunch after waiting on the 14 customers that were backed up in my line because there weren't enough people to work (as usual) and ignored her demanding that I take my break, because MY customers come first. Period. And always have. And gathered my stuff, cleaned out my locker, picked up my plant gift from another cashier who smelled what I was about to do, and walked out. They STILL ask me to return. And when I run into those customers in various places, grocery stores and even a plant nursery in KNOXVILLE which is 43 miles away, they still ask if I'm in another department or in the case of the nursery, if I'm working THERE (with a hopeful grin on their faces).

Just to let you know, around here in Eastern Tennessee, they call it the "100 days of madness". But hell is appropriate, and since the regional manager has come in, it's insane at my local store where I worked and shopped. I was even asked to work for the plant vendor who knew my experience and care for the customers and plants, and they start out two dollars and fifty cents MORE an hour than LOWes!!! But knowing that it would be the same with exception that I worked for the vendor and not Lowes, so wasn't subject to their bossiness, I declined. She still wants me..........I wrote and called corporate, they don't give a damn. It's all about profit or loss compensation. And it's not just Lowes or Depot or Walmart. It's the general attitudes of this whole system now. Because we've slipped into a service industrial country. and too disposable. Which is why I loved this forum because I am frugal and conserve and organic to a logical point, and compassionate. I do what I can to take care of my little corner of the earth and that's the best I can do.
Wow, two years later after I originally posted it! amazing!


    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 4:19PM
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I bought some plnts at Morristown Lowes that were in poor shape and marked down to $1.00. I got about 15 and when I got home I found half of them they had charged me full price for. I went back and took the plants with me and they were very rude to me Acted like I was a criminal. I told them to give my money back. I don't trade in Morristwn tn any more since it became the speed trap of east Tennessee

    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 7:10AM
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My thought on this is the impression it gives the customer.Most of these big box stores pride themselves on having *experts in every field of their store*.If I were a vendor and my label was on the plant I wouldnt be thrilled either.Dont big box stores get credits for items that dont sell ?

    Bookmark   October 5, 2006 at 10:02AM
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i am on an excrutiatingly small budget. i realize that shopping at the big-box stores can save $$$, but i just don't buy plants from any of them. i'd rather go without. whenever i do shop at the small, locally owned nursery i feel i get much better service and great advice, too. they know me by name and, although their prices don't match the big-boxers', they do have 2-for-1 end-of-season sales. knowing my circumstance, they sometimes give me stuff they don't want, plus seeds and cuttings. they know that i belong to a gardening club and talk them up, so they benefit by getting more customers. everybody's happy! :D

durham NC

    Bookmark   November 1, 2006 at 7:16PM
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I know this is old, but it got me worked up. I have been guilty of going to Lowes, actually very recently. I do agree though, that most of the big corporations don't give a hoot about the products they are selling. I own a small retail store, and I can't compete with some of the bigger retailers. If more people would support the smaller guys, it would speak volumes. You will not get the customer service, or the knowledge of a given item from them, that you get from a smaller business. I do tend to go to the garden centers more often, and try to get some deals here and there, but I can relate, because I'm in the same boat they're in. I know that people have to watch their budgets, but sometimes. it's more of the principle of it, and most of the smaller guys actually care about the person they're helping. I'd rather support that, then the other.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 9:41AM
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Geez, I read about a dozen posts before I realized the age of the thread. So I skipped a bunch and ended up reading another post of madgardener from Aug 06.

A couple of things:

I wonder what has changed (if anything) in the practices of the box stores in regards to placement of plants?

I wonder if the corporate gurus have noticed sales slumps or been alerted to the fact that some plants are dying due to placement factors?

Myself, I think it is like the gobs of junk placed near registers. Not on racks where it doesn't get in your way. In particular, Super America always had so much of this $junk that if you got gas and wanted to pick up a loaf of bread and milk, you had no place to set these items while you got out your money, debit card, or checkbook. This got so bad that after telling managers about this and getting the response "We make a lot of $ off those sales", that I finally said, "Good then, although it will be more inconvienient for me, I will stop shopping in your store. Gas only from now on. And I did quit shopping at SA. I told Holiday managers that I appreciated their open counters and no longer buy gas at SA. Small victory. But a victory.

So maybe corporate knows that some plants will die but more will be sold if they are placed out in the open. The more expensive the plant, the more exposure (sight) it should have. Thus, more will be sold, less will die. True, some will suffer and end up on a 1/2price skid at the end of the aisle.

Profit drives motive. If I plant seeds in a row, I have to thin (kill) some plants so that the surviving ones (by my choice) will live and provide me with a harvestable product. If they receive 100 plants and because of their location, sell only 25, is this good for the remaining 75 plants that will now die? But placed in a nice sunny location to attract the impulse buyer (what gardener is not an impulse buyer at times?) will they sell 50? 75?

I don't know but my instinct guess is that like the candy on the counter, more will be sold, thus more plants will find good loving homes?


On a last note, I am old enough to remember when the neighborhood grocery store (you can still see them on corners, converted to housing) did not sell gasoline or petroleum products. They charged more than the major retailers but you knew that Mom and Pop and their kids worked hard, long hours to make it work.

Then Lil'General bought a lot on the corner across from good ole Mom and Pop, reduced their prices below what M & P could afford to offer, and drove M & P out of business or into early retirement. Then, little by little the prices rose higher than M & P ever charged. Profits rose and this chain was bought out by a bigger chain and forced out more and more M & P businesses. In the corner grocery business, gasoline pumps were added and soon small family owned auto stores faced the same demise.

Then came the giant retailers and we all know how that changed things in more areas than prices.

I have told my kids that if given a choice, find a businessman who is running his/her own store, get to know them and make that your first choice when you need something. Then if you run into a problem or concern go back and ask about that. You will find that that person will bend over backwards to help/assist you or send you to someone who can help you.

I wish more people would write corporate, or, just go back to purchasing things from the places that are kind, considerate and helpful, and appreciate your business like good ole Mom and Pop did for longer than I remember.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2007 at 11:10AM
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Admittedly I did not finish reading the entire thread as I've gotten lost on the "free flowers" page someone posted and now busy ordering and trying to read this. I did want to post my thoughts and opinions however on what I've read thus far.

I do think it's rather immoral when Walmart, Home Depot or whomever misleads unknowledgeable customers; that is exactly what they're doing by placing shade flowers in the sun! I swear I've often thought of taking a seasonal job at WM just to help people with their gardening questions. I don't know about other Walmarts around the US but the one in our town has the absolute least knowledgeable garden staff I have ever seen in my entire life. They have no idea about the plants, where they go (sun or shade), what they can be used for, placement, height, etc, etc, etc. It is absolutely pitiful when I find myself, a customer, helping people out in the garden department becase IF you can find someone to assist you - they know noting anyway!

If a person wanders into a garden department that knows nothing about the plants and they see columbine on display in full sun they're most likely going to assume (rightly so) that the darn plant should be planted in full sun! I would, wouldn't you? They're the "professionals"! If, on the other hand, I walk into the greenhouse and find plants there I'd also assume those plants require at least a fair amount of shade if not total shade which is seldom the case. I won't argue that is the sales associates job for placement however they really need sales people that know their departments regardless of what department that may be; corporate needs to stop thinking so much about the almight dollar and investigate the consequences of what they're doing. I cannot tell you how many times I've told people where this plant or that plant should be planted, how big they'll get or that particular plant is very invasive because the sales person hasn't a clue.

Most days I spend at least an hour + in my garden and much more on weekends. As with my children and my dogs I care about my garden and it's well being and don't think very highly of people who abuse plants intentionally. Perhaps I'm a tree-hugger but these plants are living things and should be treated with respect and displayed where they are least likely to croak. Will I shop for plants in a place that shows a complete lack of knowledge and an incapacity to care for them? Nope. I'll shop elsewhere. As far as painting half dead plants to keep them out of the hands of someone who could bring them back from near death - that's stupidity and greediness taken to a whole new level. Would a person throw out day old bread or give it to a homeless shelter??? I'd hope they'd send it to a shelter; I think everyone knows where Walmart's bottom line is as well as many other stores. After watching a documentary on WM I've found myself shopping there less and less. I could get out of hand with that topic but won't, I'll stop here.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 5:42AM
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People are going to buy plants at big-box stores. That will not change.
The big-box stores will hire people who can't tell a root from a blossom to work in their garden centers. That will not change.
However, if local Master Gardeners, garden clubs, etc. would go to their local HD, Lowe's, Wallyworld, and offer to train the big-box garden center staff for free, that might make a difference. It would save a lot of plants, give the local club/MGs good publicity, and help a lot of novice gardeners from making awful, deadly and expensive mistakes.
Corporations look at the bottom line. If you can make a small difference locally, and the local store doesn't lose by your effort, what's the harm?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 11:48AM
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So I'm a little late on posting on ths thread... anyhow I. Work at lowes as a cashier and requested to be in the garden center because I love plants and have a serious gardening hobby going on. Lol. Y'all should be glad to know our store cares for our plants as they should be and our vendors come and give regular classes to the workers whom take care of the plants on a daily basis. Unfortunately all plants do not get sold 100 percent of the time which means som have to be disposed of for various reasons but we mark them down and all but give them away first. Anyhow I can't speak for the entire chain of stores just the one im employed at. Just thought id share my two cents almost 7 years later.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 5:38AM
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I worked for Loeb's (Canada) in their plant department. I LOVE plants. Within 3 months I brought our store rating for the floral department from 11th on the list to the top 5 spots in 3 months of my employment. Because I cared about the plants and customers, I went the extra mile to keep all plants watered, cleaned of debris/dead leaves. Talked to customers and had regulars start looking for me for help or just garden talk. I gained more floor space because the plants started selling like crazy. I had the authority to mark down plants to sell them rather than trash them. I did the orders as well - so at least I could see what wasn't moving and had the opportunity to order other plants then that were not normally ordered because previous staff just repeated seasonal orders according to previous years. I worked my butt off. I knew some folk who were having extremely difficult times. If I had plants that were going to be marked down because I needed the space for new orders I'd let them know when I was going to mark down items. It made more sense to sell the plants as healthy as possible than toss them. The customers would come back early on those days and purchase decent plants at huge savings. But in all fairness I could not 'save' plants for them - they had to come early and take their chances. I got much busier as my floor space increased. I had regulars and many favourable comments from both staff, regional managers and customers. I only left the store because of aging family needing home help. I could have just take the job as a job - doing what previous employees did. But I didn't. Originally the store manager was watching how much effort I spent on the plants (I had a secondary job of price checking stocked items) - once the profits started coming in and our ranking in the city increased I was given more opportunities to expand. I also worked hard on the price checking to make sure it was done with care.)

I guess what I'm trying to say - not all box stores are bad. If you have a good store manager and you can make a difference I would not say every box store treats it's floral department badly. But filling out those customer surveys is important - and if enough customers do it you actually help your store improve.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 5:26PM
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Not only will this kill the plants at the store, but the one that are still alive will be purchased and taken home to die, because the poor treatment at the store has weakened them. I don't buy at stores that don't seem to care about the needs of the plants.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 9:36PM
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When the Home Depot was built one half mile from the old style hardware store, I was pessamistic. But after eight or ten years, the little store is thriving. I got disgusted the first time at HD, I asked three employees where the hardware cloth was, and was sent all over the store. Finally I had to ask the manager.

The little hardware store sells propane refills eight bucks cheaper than most grocery and drug store chains exchange them. The store provides shade for all their spring plants. And, shockingly, most of the time there is a employee waiting by the door to take you to whatever you need. All the employees except for the cashiers seem to be age 55-75, and know their inventory. There is a window at the back of the store where one can leave a screen to be fixed, or a gasket for a plumbing faucet can be found.

But in another ten years that store may be gone. The local paper has covered several old style hardware stores closing in the last few years.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 11:00AM
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"When the Home Depot was built one half mile from the old style hardware store, I was pessamistic. But after eight or ten years, the little store is thriving. I got disgusted the first time at HD, I asked three employees where the hardware cloth was, and was sent all over the store. Finally I had to ask the manager.
The little hardware store sells propane refills eight bucks cheaper than most grocery and drug store chains exchange them. The store provides shade for all their spring plants. And, shockingly, most of the time there is a employee waiting by the door to take you to whatever you need. All the employees except for the cashiers seem to be age 55-75, and know their inventory. There is a window at the back of the store where one can leave a screen to be fixed, or a gasket for a plumbing faucet can be found.

But in another ten years that store may be gone. The local paper has covered several old style hardware stores closing in the last few years.

We have an old hardware store like that too. But they just got a remodel and are doing great business.

Our Lowes is very good for plants. All the garden center employees there have been there several years & know what they are doing. And they do mark things WAY down on clearance. HD on the other hand, is horrible. You are lucky if you can find an employee period! Then those in the garden center have no knowledge of the plants or other products.
Our Walmart used to have a fantastic garden center with a gal as the manager who had been there for 15 yrs. & did her own gardening too. Then she retired! Now, not so good. The older employees know what to do having been managed properly by the older gal but the new manager is pathetic!

So not only does it depend on the store manager & his ability to see what is going on in each of his departments, it also depends on the department managers and the other employees!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 1:27PM
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I have enjoyed reading through most of this issue
Sohme very well written commments and there are many good points.

Was interesting

I am Canadian, but have a home in Florida where I spend half a year

I do go to Lowes, Home Depot etc. in both countries. And here in Canada we have Canadian Tire and Zellers, chain stores across the country that as well have a seasonal garden area.

I learned some from this reading
I like to go to small garden centres, well privately owned places but they as well most often try to market, not the unusual but regular stuff and to display it seasonally
Someone wrote and it is true, that they don't so easily dump or get rid of plants past the peak time as in Poinsettia, or Easter lilies et.c Try to keep them going and sell when they should be taken off the shelves, right away

I think as well some of the garden centres are run better than others. Lowes in Fort Myers is a terrific place to get deals on plants . they mark them down at leat 50% and every week there is lots of stuff to look at
I have found that they have some unusual plants as well, and theya re often the marked down plants as most people don't know what they are.

I love getting deals at the box stores and seems to me there are lots to be had.
For instance, at the Canadian Tire store here in Barrie, where I live, about two weeks ago, they had trays upon trays of annuals and perenials stacked one upon the other, heading for the dumpster

I asked the gals working in the gardens, if I might have some of these trays.

My son has started raising seedlings in his green house and I thought all the trays and small pots , if nothing else would be usefull

Sure, the ladies said

I drove the car around to the back where the stacks of plants where and the ladies came and helped me load up the trunk of the car.
Some annuals, some herbs, some perenials We put in some larger pots and included where clematis, poppies,a japanese tree peonies
Couldn't fit in anything more in the trunk. and I have a large trunk fortunately that day it had been empty.

Oh boy, was I excited about all this free stuff

Took everything to my back yard work station and started going through all the stuff

Some of the annuals and herbs where not much good. But I dumped all this good soil into a large pail. Plant roots and all.
Several herbs though where viable and are presently enjoying restablishing themselves in a couple of larger pots.

the poppies are planted and showing some new green As well the peony and I am so excited about the clematis Three of them One was a large white flowering plant

Washed out the trays and containers and have them stacked in the back shed to give to my son

Got lots of dirt that I used to top off things in pots and to fill a couple of pots before planting them

The dirt and pots where a bargain, and then, free plants on top Wowie I was and am happy as can be

That garden centre is now closed down for the season, as are many in Canada. Just a short seasonal thing.
boy it is hot here in Ontario Canada, just now. To hot.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 2:17PM
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Truth is, some of the big box stores (Home Depot for one) do NOT own the plants they are selling, until they are actually sold (called pay-by-scan)to a customer. Then and only then does the store pay for them. So they don't really have an investment in how well the plants are doing. If they die, they lose nothing. The plant vendor is the loser. Usually,the vendor rep has the responsibility for seeing that the dead plants are taken away, and that the racks are stocked and taken care of. There is supposed to be someone in the store watering, but that isn't always true as the stores are often understaffed and too busy in the season to keep up, or they hire kids who know nothing about plants and don't know how to water.

My DH worked at HD for several years and before that he owned a small nursery/landscape business, for nearly 30 years. His biggest frustration at HD was not having enough employees, and not having enough employes who knew anything. He tried his best to keep the plants watered and cared for but being the senior member of the garden dept staff, he was too busy with customers to have time to do the maintenance as he would have liked.

And of course, regional management always has to have their say about how the plants were displayed, and often, THEY don't know the difference between a shade plant and a sun plant, either, or care.

I seldom buy from a big box store any more after the first shipments in the spring, when the plants are fresh from the growers. Not worth the hassle.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 7:43PM
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