Plants: £2.99 or 3 for £10.00

This was a slight error I made when promoting some herbaceous perennials I had bought in to upsell to my customers. Apart from the above mistake (Should have been 4 for £10.00), the idea was to buy in plants in 1 litre pots and although they had a lower individual profit margin, their low retail price would result in volume sales making the money.  Any plants that did not sell would be re-potted into 2l or 3l pots, held over the winter and sold the following year at a price covering the extra compost and time to look after them. Pots are never a problem as over the years I have built quite a collection.

A steep learning curve later, including customer plant loses, the time needed to look after them and rabbits and mice enjoying their nourishing growth over the winter. I abandoned the idea in favour of buying to customers’ orders, leaving nurseries to look after them.

 Cheap young plants in 1l pots are popular with many retail customers, however their foliage and root systems are often not developed enough to withstand the harshness of garden conditions compared to their molly coddled nursery conditions. The result being that many plants do not make it to a second season.  I have lost plants in my own and customers gardens this way and it would be interesting to find if there are any statistics on nationwide losses. I understand that the UK plant sales industry is over 1.5 billion so I am sure failure to establish must run into the millions every year.

Not including plants such as annual spring and summer bedding which are bought as throw away plants by the end of their season. Herbaceous perennials and shrubs are better bought  in 2l or 3l pot sizes as they generally have a bigger better root system, less likely to dry out and able to  establish quicker in their garden environment.

At the start of every season the wholesale cost of plants rise and recently I have noticed this price jumping even higher.  This year’s increases have affected my profit margin on sales already made as I try to keep my plant prices customer friendly. Although this weekend I  did cross reference with the prices of some popular online suppliers.  I now feel much better as the prices have jumped across the board justifying my price increases.

The HTA (Horticulture Trade Association) magazine confirms the increase with import factors contributing including Sterling’s weakness against the Euro after Brexit and rising import costs. UK growers are also affected by minimum wages rising, pension contributions, transport costs and increased costs in composts, labels, etc.

However I remind myself and my customers that plants as opposed to many other commodities such as cars and clothing actually go up in value as they age and if one spreads the cost of a perennial plant over the years one has them they work out  a good investment.  I like the extra positive thoughts of another online gardener ,that  as long as we buy cleverly many plants do not go out of fashion and as they age, like us, gain greater character and increase in value. Many plants such as mature magnolias, camellias and Japanese maples used for instant garden landscaping can cost thousands of pounds each.  With this in mind I think I can convince my wife when I invest in more plants, as by the time we retire our garden may be more valuable than our house.

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