Monthly Archive for December, 2013

Plant Guarantees – research, articles and blog posts.

Image of dead plant

I have been reading up on the subject of Plant Guarantees, the industry term for the return policies offered by most garden centers on the plant material they sell.  Research by Today’s Garden Magazine found that well over 50% of garden centers offered a least a 1 year guarantee on the plants they sold, and that multi-year plant guarantees were not uncommon.

As one might expect, the terms & conditions associated with plant guarantees varies greatly between retailers, as does the justification for offering seemingly generous return policies to customers. Customer education programs, and stocking plant material suited to local growing conditions are strategies that can reduce returns, and the costs of offering a plant guarantee.

One thing I would like to know is the percentage of returns due to customer neglect (like not watering your plants).  I imagine a large percentage of the plants returned to garden centers fall into this category.

Plant Guarantee Reading List

Should Plant Nurseries Offer a Guarantee on Plants?. Blog post.

Do Plant Guarantees Matter? The Role of Satisfaction and Regret when Guarantees are Present. Research paper. HORTSCIENCE, 40(1):142–145. 2004. Jennifer H. Dennis, Bridget K. Behe, Thomas Fernandez, and Robert Schutzki.

Guaranteed Success. Article.

Problem Customers Shouldn’t Define Your Policies. Article.

Not happy with a plant? Take it back to the garden centre. Article.


I forgot to plant Hellebores again!

To anyone gardening in a northern climate Hellebores are nothing short of amazing.  They bloom as early as late March and early April here in Zone 5b.  They are hardy plants that can tolerate temperature dips below freezing, and those all too frequent spring snowfalls. Unfortunately, like most outdoor plants, you can’t plant them in December when the ground is frozen. Otherwise, I would be out planting some right now.

Buy plants when you see them or else!

Actually, the opportunity to buy Hellebores is a lot shorter than the growing season here in the Northern Hemisphere. Despite being a perennial, they only seem to be readily available in garden stores in the spring.  Hellebores are buy no means the only plants in the horticulture trade that have a limited purchase window.

The short availability of many species of plant material has many consequences. In terms of consumer choice, gardeners that have the time & energy to visit the garden center every week will be exposed to a larger variety of plants than the person that visits once or twice a year. That is to say, gardeners that are in the market for Hellebores in September are likely to be disappointed. Contrast this with other retail shopping experiences, like buying fresh produce at the grocery store.  Thanks to refrigeration, and international trade, you can buy most things year round, regardless of whether or not they are in season locally.

Until someone invents a time machine, or a way to prolong optimal transplant times for plants, the only way gardeners can obtain plants like Hellebores is to buy them when they are available, no matter how short the time period. That being said, once a gardener has decided to buy a plant, retailers should make the sale, regardless of whether fulfillment is immediate, or at some point in the future, otherwise they stand to lose.

Did I mention I want to buy a Hellebore?