How to Make Sure End-of-Season Plants You Buy Are Worth It

It’s that time again! The end-of-season plants are on sale at your favorite nursery and at the big box stores. But how can you make sure that those bargain plants really are a good deal? (Translated: How to make sure the plants will live and not be a waste of your money?) Here are tips from our Adventures of Landless Gardener blogger, Jennifer Smith.

end-of-season plants

That time you went to pick up one new container and realized that all the end-of-season plants were all sale, and you bought more than you could carry. GettyImages

How to Save Money on End-of-Season Plants

I get asked this a lot: Are the drastically discounted plants on sale at garden centers worth the money? The plants’ conditions range from good to fair.

And I admit: I always shop the sale tables! Here’s why these end-of-season plants can be a real bargain. You may have to work a little harder with them to get them established, but the work is worth it. And it’s fun.

Why Are there End-of-Season Plants to Sell?

Nurseries often discount plants that have finished blooming or just look small compared to newer arrivals. Even annuals can go on drastic discount. I once planted a large part of a new garden with free, cast-off annuals. Some were spindly, leggy, bug infested or just sad looking. I cut them back, hosed off the pests, fed and babied them for two weeks. That turned out to be a stunning garden.

Perennials are even easier to rehabilitate, because you have time on your side. I remove any damaged tissue (stems and leaves). If I suspect disease or pests, I treat the plant accordingly. I set it aside to ensure the problem is resolved before adding the plant to the garden. If you plant a perennial early enough in the fall for its roots to take hold and you protect its crown from winter damage, it’ll likely return in the spring.

Jennifer Smith is a horticulturist, garden writer and photographer for Wimberg Landscaping, a Cincinnati-based landscaping firm. She is the author of the Adventures of a Landless Gardener blog and the former managing editor of Horticulture.


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