I was out at my local home center stores yesterday, browsing through the garden centers, on the hunt for pansies to give to some children as Easter gifts tomorrow. I wasn’t surprised to see how little they have yet in stock, given the cold weather we’ve had recently, and a lot of what was in stock was not all that healthy. It was pretty obvious one store had just gotten in a shipment as the plants there looked very fresh and healthy, and the other had wisely moved a lot of it indoors to get the plants out of the cold.
The vegetable selection was what I expected for this time of year – not much, mostly cool weather stuff – a few perennials, a few shrubs. Really, a much smaller selection than you would normally find for the end of March, but nothing that unusual, until I came across the display of impatiens and marigolds at one of the stores. Really? I know people want a jump on planting, but these things are out too early by a good month.
So, it’s a good time to remind all of us gardening-deprived folks to be smarter than the average home center when picking an appropriate time to purchase your plants. I recall seeing tomatoes last year out about a month earlier than they should have been, too, and I wondered how many people just trust these stores to not offer plants at the wrong time of year, take one home and are back in a week or two for a replacement.
It’s one more good reason why I prefer frequenting my local nursery, which puts stuff out for sale at the right time for planting. I guarantee you won’t find impatiens or marigolds for sale there until they will actually live in the ground without extraordinary effort.
You can find some good stuff at the home centers, but you better know what you’re buying. Just because it’s on the shelf doesn’t mean it should really be planted yet.