I have kept the prices of most species constant for the past few years and I intend to keep those prices — mostly $6 for small pots and $12 for 4 1/2″ tall pots — for any of the species I can get up to salable size in one season.

However, some species require more effort or time to get up to salable size and their prices have to reflect this. For example, Nodding Prairie Onion (Allium cernuum) germinates without much fuss, but it spends its first summer with one or two skinny little leaves, wispier than a sprig of newly sprouted lawn grass. It doesn’t fill out a pot for three, or even four, years. A nice, plantable specimen of Nodding Prairie Onion, which I have been looking after for three or more years, needs to be more expensive than a similarly sized pot of, for example, Ironweed, which I have been looking after for 3 or 4 months.

It is just an unavoidable aspect of native plant gardening that many of the plants for shade are going to be in the costlier categories. They may have fussy germination protocols, sometimes requiring two or more winters before they germinate, or they produce few seeds, or the seed pods need to be individually bagged to prevent ants from carrying the seeds off. The seeds cannot be stored dry, or, sometimes, stored at all. And, because they are growing in shade, they have a smaller energy budget, and therefore slower growth, than plants for sunny places.

Although I try to grow from seeds (for genetic diversity) there are some woodland creepers that are so slow or difficult from seed that it is impractical. The lovely Twinflower is one that I grow from cuttings. Taking cuttings — in the case of Twinflower, with permission from a friend’s several extensive wild patches — requires more time, and time in the middle of the spring growing season, than sowing seed in winter, and it results in many fewer little plants. Pots of Twinflower have to be more expensive than pots of things which come easily from seed. However Twinflower, cuttings of which root readily and start to form new growth in a couple of months, is far faster than the rather similar looking Partridgeberry. Partridgeberry cuttings take a year to decide whether they will root at all, even with level 3 rooting hormone, and I lose about half of them. The price of a pot of Partridgeberry has to reflect the time and effort that has gone into it.

All this is to let you know that the prices for some (but certainly not all*) woodland and other slow-growing plants are going to be going up and when some interesting new species become available, they may be more pricey than the easy species.

*Easy-from-seed woodlanders, such as White Snakeroot and Blue-stemmed Goldenrod, are not going up in price for, at least, Spring 2022.

2 thoughts on “Slow Plants have to be More Expensive

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