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Marie Iannotti

Are New Plants Up to the Hype?

By January 23, 2013

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Doesn't it seem like there's an ever larger volume of new plants introduced every season. I used to look forward to them, but lately I find it very frustrating that I can't find the same plant two years in a row. These were my absolute favorite pansies and I never found them again.

I can appreciate that plant companies need to innovate, to make money to stay in business, but it's getting hard to know who to trust. Even more so with expensive perennials. I've heard from several gardeners that many of the new and improved perennials seem awfully short lived in their gardens. Yes, it could be gardener's error, but you would think we'd all be pretty good at growing things like coneflowers by now. It seems more likely they've been selling plants before they've been well tested. Have you noticed this trend?


January 23, 2013 at 6:13 pm
(1) Doug says:

Marie, Im in agreement. I have lost so many NEW heucheras in the past three years it’s dreadful, while my native ones keep getting bigger and more robust every year.

January 23, 2013 at 6:16 pm
(2) gardening says:

It’s disappointing, isn’t it. Someone told me they just need to be coddled and mulch their first winter or two, but I’ve tried and had little success. A lot of the new plants are really lovely, but I can’t keep replacing them.

January 23, 2013 at 11:09 pm
(3) Teresa says:

I am a greenhouse owner and it is frustrating for us too. There are rules that we cannot propagate certain things and then we have to buy, new improved plants that just do not perform as well, So to counterset that we have begun breeding our on from past stock and homegrown organic..by the way, I have those pansies you love.

January 24, 2013 at 5:17 am
(4) gardening says:

I hadn’t even considered the patented plant, no propagation rules. No wonder prices keep going up. But maybe that means some old favorites will stay popular. And I’m glad to hear someone else likes my pansies. I don’t suppose you’re anywhere near the mid-Hudson valley?

January 24, 2013 at 8:39 am
(5) Charlie Johnson says:

An old gardening friend of mine would save his seed catalogs for a year or so and then contact the company about plants and especially bulbs from past publications, asking if certain things were still available. Some things could be picked up cheaply and with extra growth simply by asking and also to help the grower clear out older things. During hard times we should all haggle..

January 24, 2013 at 12:34 pm
(6) gardening says:

What a great idea! I am definitely going to give that a try.

January 25, 2013 at 7:03 am
(7) Jacque says:

I agree with many of these statements. I have also noticed the new heucheras do not live nearly as long as the older ones I have in my garden and they are the more expensive ones because they are new. The other frustrating thing is it’s becoming harder and harder to buy perennial seeds because they want you to pay the higher cost for a plant. Burpee used to carry a lot of perennial seeds, but now when you look on their website it’s mostly plants. I used to get many of perennials at Bluestone when they had a sale. Before when you bought them you received 3 plants and now you only receive one for almost the same price. It’s becoming more and more frustrating to know what to even put in your flower beds anymore.

January 25, 2013 at 12:36 pm
(8) gardening says:

I remember buying 3 packs from Bluestone, too. They were small, but they grew and they were an affordable way to fill out a garden bed.

It does seem like there are less perennial seeds available, ever since they started patenting plants. We might be better off with seeds of older, dependable varieties. Still, I do like trying new things.

January 27, 2013 at 3:02 pm
(9) Paul says:

YES IT BOTHERS ME that they just seem to automatically replace and old tried and true variety because someone says they have a newer product.

January 27, 2013 at 8:42 pm
(10) lesley says:

What irks me as a designer, is to see mature sizes listed for plants which have just come out on the market. Okay, you might be able to assume perennials will be roughly the same size, but trees can be very expensive design mistakes if the patent owner guessed wrong (or based the size on their nursery under adverse conditions).

January 28, 2013 at 11:11 am
(11) gardening says:

Lesley, since I rarely design anymore, I hadn’t even considered that aspect. It must be a total crap shoot for designers trying out new introductions. Especially since conditions play such an important factor.

February 2, 2013 at 9:07 am
(12) Les & Jill Taylor says:

As perennial gardeners, we are always interested in purchasing the new varieties that appear on the market each year. However, we have learned to wait at least one year until they have proven that they do what they say (biggest flower, hardy to zone XX, etc .), Since we prefer to purchase new plants from a local garden center so we can actually see the plants and pick out the one(s) we prefer. Any reputable garden center will not carry any plants that don’t meet the expectations /claims of the grower/supplier. A perfect recent example of that was Echinacea, Mac & Cheese, which proved to be a disappointment re: expectations vs actuality. So, they did not carry it the second year.
The moral of the story: Patience is a virtue and, with regard to new gardening varieties might also save money and frustration as well as the false impression that it was your fault because of deficiencies in your gardening skills, not the shortcomings of the plant and the company that developed/marketed the plant.

February 2, 2013 at 1:06 pm
(13) gardening says:

Patience is a virtue that’s in short supply, in my garden, lol. But I like your rule about waiting a year. Besides being better tested, if a company is continuing to devote space to an older plant, it probably is a winner.

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