Why Those Half-Dead Plants On Sale Are Actually a Good Deal

It could easily be called the “sad plant shelf” — those places where nurseries and home improvement stores put less-than-perfect plants for sale. They slap them with a discount sticker in the hopes of getting rid of them fast to make room for a new crop. Typically, it’s a rack of mismatched plants in an out-of-the-way corner of the store or nursery. Before you thumb your nose at the pitiful pots, be aware that they’re an excellent buy. That’s because at least some of them are going to be perennials, which means it doesn’t matter if they’re already kaput for this year. Just be sure when you’re buying perennials that they have some green on the plant. Look for bugs, brown spots, and signs of disease and steer clear of those plants. The last thing you need is to bring bugs or diseases into your garden. Your best bet, of course, is the nurseries. That’s because grocery stores and big box stores have plants that come from a host of different places, and the staff often doesn’t have much horticulture experience. Also, never be afraid to ask for a deeper discount. Even though plants may be sporting a 50% off sticker, stores are usually so anxious to make something on discounted plants that they are often willing to go a little lower. Once you get your in-need-of-TLC plant home, give it a break. It’s likely been in the sun without all the resources it needs, so put it in the shade, give it a good drink of water, and leave it alone for at least 24 hours. Then it’s time to repot or plant it. Give the plant a good haircut on top so it doesn’t have to support as much greenery and can focus all of its energy on growing healthy roots for next year. Buying the sad plants is a smart way to build out your garden and allows you to try out plants you might not choose at full price. Remember, a small sacrifice now, in terms of a plant’s looks, can lead to big returns later.