The True Cost of Low Priced Plants
Earlier this morning I was reading my morning news and I came across an article that immediately piqued my interest. I found it so interesting in fact, that it got my wheels turning, and my fingers tapping. This article gave me a range of emotions! I’m still unsure as to whether they’re better identified as angry or as interested.
You see, the article that I had read this morning was about my industry, my day in and day out reputation, that I take great pride in. So, understandably I wasn’t sure if I should be flattered that someone was attempting to provide guidance to our customers, or if I was just annoyed that they had done such a poor job at trying to do so.
The article I had read was about the differences between low cost $5 plants and more expensive ones from garden centers. While they tried to help the many customers struggling with empty pocketbooks amidst the raging pandemic, the article both insulted the industry and the consumer.
Even the most ameteur of gardeners would read this article and surely see that the writer of this piece missed a lot of important parts of buying plants.
But, what I did appreciate about this article, was that it proposed a very important question, that both the writer of the piece and myself at times have asked.
Why is it that some plants cost more, and what exactly are you paying for?
The Garden Industry
Before diving right into the answer of why some plants cost more and what exactly you’re paying for, I think it’s important to understand a little bit about the Garden Industry and what we do.
Much like other agricultural fields, this work requires exposure to the sun for long hours through the hottest days of the year. It asks you to get your hands dirty, and not just lightly, but nails stained from the constant exposure to the dirt, kind of dirty. Not to mention the exposure to chemical treatments, insects, and other unsavory pests.
Nursery and Greenhouse professionals work exceptionally hard to deliver beautiful plants that will bring each customer years of joy and happiness.
It’s not easy, it’s not cheap, and by no means, is it a job for everyone.
But despite the stressful nature that this industry can have, many growers, sellers, and workers are still some of the kindest people you can do business with.
This industry is surrounded by the joy and beauty that these plants bring to people!
Fundamentals of Cost
Now that you know a little bit more about the work that goes into our industry, we can look at a couple of important factors that affect the cost of the plants you see at your favorite plant shops.
As a customer, one of the best ways you can support your green thumb and the Garden and Nursery Industry is by having a good understanding of what the pricing means.
- You get what you pay for:
I was raised on this important philosophy during a time when you really did get what you pay for. While times have changed, and the cost of goods overall has risen, for the most part this is still true.
- You only pay for quality once:
My boss said this to me earlier this past year, and it was the only time I ever needed to hear it. Simply because it’s incredibly true.
When it comes to plants, quality plants are a gift that keeps on giving. They can save you extra costs on everything from root booster to pesticides.
- Bigger isn’t always better:
Sometimes bigger seems better, but this idea isn’t always true. When it comes to getting your money's worth, size does matter. But, what is sometimes missed is that the “more” you may be getting is not what you expected.
When it comes to buying plants the “more” could mean a variety of things. It could mean taking home pests, or diseases that could very well cause damage to the rest of your landscape. In other ways the more you could be getting is an unhealthy plant that led you on to believe that because it was bigger, it would be better.
Quality growers will often take the extra steps to prune or cut back plants so that they can regrow the following year with more body. When this step is skipped, it can actually impact the growth of the plant negatively.
Sometimes this means that the plant will need more time to grow full, but if it’s good quality, it will be worth the wait!
- Bulk buys receive discounts:
This is true throughout the market in more than one industry. The more that a vendor buys from a supplier, the more savings a vendor can pass along to their customers. Acknowledging this global truth of market exchanges, is where you’ll be able to compare big box store discounts, and small business achievements.
What’s In the Cost
There’s a lot to take into consideration when you’re purchasing plants. Your landscape is an investment in yourself and your home. If you’re going to spend the time on it, you’re going to want it to look nice.
Buying cheap plants can mean you’re compromising quality. The plant could be short on nutrients, or root hardiness causing it to die faster. But, buying the most expensive plants can easily keep you from completing your gardening goals.
When deciding on new plants and how much they’ll cost here are the factors that will impact the cost of your plant and what you’re getting for your money:
- On Staff Experts:
When it comes to the quality of plants, there is one key ingredient that really makes a difference in the cost, the people.
These days, the human impact can be easily overlooked in identifying quality and cost. But for my industry, the human touch really makes all the difference.
Companies that invest in their employees will have happier employees, and that trickles down to the quality of care they give to their plants.
Insightful experts, and careful employees can quickly impact the quality of the plants that a company sells. The natural human attention to detail is important when it comes to growing and selling plants. Staff members must have the knowledge and the skillset to give the care that plants need to thrive.
Knowledgeable staff can also quickly solve problems that often arise in the Garden Industry. Quick and informed decisions can be the difference between making a season flourish, or closing their doors.
- Boxing and Packaging:
Believe it or not this has a huge impact on the overall health of your plant. Many plants are shipped from larger wholesale growers to smaller nurseries and sellers throughout the country. Cutting costs on boxing and packaging can mean exposing the plants to harsh weather conditions that can ultimately impact their health.
- Pests and Disease Treatments:
The overall health of a plant before it gets to the customer starts with the grower. Using effective and proven methods to keep the plant healthy from harmful pests and diseases is fundamental to the overall health of the plant. Each state sets out different requirements for treatments against pests and diseases to protect their local environments and planting communities. If a grower does not adhere to these regulations, it often comes at a greater cost to everyone involved.
We know that the best growers use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Plans, and certify their operations in compliance with their state and federal regulations. That’s why we take the extra step and time for every piece of inventory to be sure that it has been certified to ship to your area.
- Quality Variety:
Like many industries around the world, the Garden Industry is continually developing new and beautiful varieties for their customers. But, keeping up with the latest trends comes a cost.
Many new varieties have patents and trademarks to their creators. Suppliers, like Nature Hills Nursery, are willing to sell these new varieties, but often have to pay additional fees for royalties, marketing, and rights to sell the variety.
- Good Roots:
When it comes to starting a healthy plant, it comes from the ground up! Strong and plentiful roots give plants the access they need to nutrients throughout their lifetime.
The foundation roots created for strong and robust plants is something that is often skipped over when it comes to giving it the detail and attention it deserves.
When looking at low cost plants, this is something to be wary of. The soil of your plant should be wrapped within the roots and visibly abundant when it is removed from the cell it was purchased in.
Next Time You’re Buying Plants
The next time you’re out buying plants, I genuinely hope that you’ll consider more than just the price tag that you see. I’ve done the groundwork for you here, in hopes that the next time you’re comparing costs, you have a ready idea of what it represents.
Remember your fundamentals of, you get what you pay for and that you only pay for quality once. Bigger doesn’t always mean it’s better, and that bulk buying usually comes with greater discounts.
These basic purchasing rules will help guide your review of costs. But, these weren’t the only tips I gave you!
The Garden Industry is a busy, constantly evolving machine. From the time the plants go into the ground, to the moment they’re sent out on a truck, growers who provide quality plants really do put their best foot forward for their customers.
They invest in their staff members because they know that the return is more than a machine could ever replicate. They establish strong IPM plans to protect their plants from pests and diseases they didn’t see coming. They pay a little bit more, so that you can have branded quality varieties.
They start good roots so that your plants have access to all the necessary nutrients. And they carefully select packaging that they know costs a little more on their side, but means you’ll get a healthier and stronger plant.
So while the lower priced plant may look more appealing to your pocketbook, the slightly more expensive plant can give you so much more.
Pages To Visit:
Normally in this section of our blogs, we would include our citations. However, this week we focused on in house experts from our 3 companies! So instead of the usual citation, here are pages to our other 2 companies that help keep Nature Hills Nursery going.