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False Economy

Late last fall I bought a lot of perennials at the end of October, and not one of them came back this past spring.

Remember, it takes at least six weeks for a newly planted perennial to get its roots established.

It is hard for me to admit it, but I really am not all that smart when it comes to buying plants for my garden.

First of all, I buy far too many. My garden is already so full that I often find myself walking around the yard with a new plant in my hand, muttering to myself,

“Where in the hell can I put this!”

And this year I am vowing not to succumb to buying those bargain plants on sale late in the season. Late last fall I bought a lot of perennials at the end of October, and not one of them came back this past spring. It takes at least six weeks for a newly planted perennial to get its roots established.

Some years, of course, I have been lucky when we haven’t had below-freezing temperatures until very late in the year, and my late-fall bargain purchases have got their roots established well before a hard freeze. But it really is not smart to take the chance of buying perennials—no matter how cheap they are—late in the fall.

Sometimes, too, the plants themselves are not in such great shape when I buy them late, so they don’t even have a fighting chance of survival. I just hope that I can remember not to go anywhere near a plant sale this October. Because even if a plant is 75% off, it is NOT cheap if it doesn’t have the time or energy to take up permanent residence in a garden.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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