Poor plants are doomed!

greenlarry(UK 8/9)October 25, 2012

I see this a lot, summer bedding plants bought for the garden mostl only to be exposed to the frosts that are coming soon!

These are Pelargonium, and there's loads of them (begonias too), all doomed to turn to mush.

And a lot of people buy them thinking, oh they must be annuals anyway!

Plus the council plants hundreds of summer bedding and come August theyre all dug up, still healthy, and thrown out, such a waste of plants, and money!

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

What's the waste? Many, many tender perennials are used AS (instead of) annuals, disposed of at the end of the season exactly as if they are annuals. Most of these kinds of plants are marketed as annuals and priced accordingly. They are disposable, a renewable resource in a multi-billion dollar industry.

What would you have the council do? Dig them all up, pot them for temporary storage (who? where? how?), and try to get another season out of them? I've yet to see where those kinds of efforts are remotely successful at the commercial level. Perhaps on an individual basis, if the homeowner has the room, inclination, and knowledge but few do. It certainly isn't a waste.

Many of these tender perennials-used-as-annuals are extremely easy to reproduce on a mass scale and the price point reflects that. It is simply more cost effective to rip them out at the end of the season and start with fresh, young, healthy, perky plants. I do it every single year.
Remember....the beauty of it is that these plants need to be considered renewable. Not a waste, at all, but part of simple maintenance costs. There are many examples of waste and even deceit in this industry, but the use of these kinds of plants as if they were annuals is not one of those examples.

Now, I am not talking about plants that are perennially useful, a part of the permanent landscape.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 5:57AM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

But it is a waste! Theyre perennials, and it costs us, the taxpayer, to plant them out three times a year, to just be thrown out!
Thousands of � wasted each year. What could they do? Plant perennials, more primroses and violets, wall flowers (biennial but you know...)

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 6:58AM
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Hi Larry,
try to look at it this way, The Pelargonium/ begonias give many people pleasure to look at. They make the town prettier by lining the buildings with color.If they leave them there When they die, they add material to the flower beds and get recycled. Here in PA they are annuals. Some people pot them and bring them in but they are prone to black flies,( so are impatients.)
Nothing is a waste if it adds beauty to the enviroment.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 8:21AM
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Larry, very nice garden. Is it yours, a neighbors or a municipal building?

Neighboring towns do the same. They buy expensive plants, 'Canna, Ornamental Grasses....various annuals and perennials. They're kept in huge containers until freezes kill them.
Taxpayers money.
Then there's Christmas decorations, etc.

It's a business..Although it's nice towns dec up the town, some areas go to extremes.

Chicago, IL spends several thousands, plus, during events..Don't know if you've ever been to the states, but when Pres Obama came here, Chicago's mayor spent a fortune on plants and clean up.

I can see your point and Rhizos.

Where do we draw the line? IMO, each town should vote on how much or if they want to pay taxes on decorations/plants.

Wonder where some of the plants go? When our neighboring burb was about to toss plants, I felt like, but embarrassed, asking if I could have a few 'garden plants,' since they'd be tossed anyway..lol..

The burb we live, adds very few plants, mostly in the downtown area..DT is very tiny--- a small circle, lol.
During Christmas a tree, 'Charlie Brown tree,' is set in the center of the cirle..lol

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 11:00AM
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Toni, it never hurts to ask, worst they can say is no.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 11:10AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I've had similar thoughts also, anyone who contemplates the whole it's-not-really-an-annual-in-warmer-places-thing has, but you know it would be a slippery slope if corporate/municipal landscapes allowed people to take the plants at the end of the season. People would start thinking of them as "theirs" before it's time to pull them, raiding these landscapes for whatever they want, whenever they want.

It does seem like there could be more communication between an intermediate entity in some cases though, like the local MGs or equivalent, to disseminate these plants to the public. If done well, they should be able to break even regarding transportation costs to another location, if they charge a very nominal fee. It would likely be a logistical nightmare, and think about how it would go from their end. People would be complaining later, 'cuz they didn't get it about the plants needing to go inside, that they were killed by the cold. "You said they could keep growing!" Or even complaining when they showed up to the sale, "these plants are going to die next week, they're annuals not perennials" 'cuz they don't understand the tender perennial thing. It would totally be a "no good deed goes unpunished" thing.

Maybe you can ask around and find some places/people willing to talk to you about it. Probably won't get much response but if you happen to be in the right place at the right time, you could get very lucky. (Picturing you running after a truck full of ripped up Pels and Begonias... WAIT!!)

Even when you know you're probably looking at a bunch of plants that will be ripped up or frosted soon, it's hard to reconcile that in your mind, especially when you have some at home that you're coddling in a pot, considered a house plant. Would they really spend all of that money and then just let them die?!

This general idea is kind of cousins to where you asked about garden plants as house plants, and that's what I would focus on, and do focus on. When I buy "annuals" I try to avoid the true annuals and go for the tender perennials. True annuals are mostly easy to grow from seeds, and that's all the money I want to spend on that kind of thing, genuinely temporary plants. I can choose at the end of the season which I may want to attempt to save if they are tender perennials. If/when I am successful, it doesn't mean that I don't shop for plants again the next year. It means that I'll probably spend just as much, but on different stuff, to increase my variety, or go for something more pricey, like a rose bush or baby fruit tree. Unless/until I run out of plants, which is impossible at the rate I play with propagating them, I'll keep eliminating more grass and making more beds for them. Just realized I don't know if you have any outdoor gardening going on, or if it's all pots?

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 11:49AM
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Polly, you ARE right, but I'm still too shy to ask. lol.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 11:50AM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Toni, it was just a house I went past while walking the dog. Private house so not council planted. I dont think you have councils in the states, I dony know your equivalent.

But heres the thing. In the spring they tidy up the beds, ripping out any perennials that might be in there (primulas, violets etc), perfectly good plants, then plant summer bedding, pels and begonias etc. Then in august they rip those out to plant autumn flowering plants, then winter they repeat.
Now i used to work as a gardener with them, so I got to see what went on, how much was wasted
Sometimes id get to bring some home- free houseplants!
But i worked at a HUGE park, with mahoosive beds. Upto 30,000 plants per bed, all cycled thru spring, summer, winter bedding. And thats just one park!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 12:08PM
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That IS awful if they are ripping out perennials. What is wrong with them. Public needs to file a complaint

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 12:23PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Well mostly theyre plants like pelargonium and begonia, which the public falsely see as annuals. But late in the year, round about now, we would plant true perennials like primula violets and wallflowers, only to be ripped out come spring!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 12:49PM
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Larry..when you speak of councils do you mean government buildings, where taxes, etc, are decided?

In the states, they're not coined councils, but when you think about it, all have the same meaning..council, government buildings, etc. People who make tax-'raising, never lowering,' decisions.

I don't think it matters where one lives, every town uses tax-payers money for plants/decorations.

Wonder what they do with plants after being dug up. Are workers allowed to take them home?
They should have plant sales...I'm certain people would buy perennials/bulbs. Like Cannas used here.

Maybe plants are discounted buying large quantities...wholesale prices. Who knows???

You wouldn't believe the plants/pots people throw out in autumn. But it's their own money, not tax-payers.

Found a few nice pots last month. Large planters and three glass terrariums. lol.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 1:15PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Our local council grows its own bedding plants from seed (Pelargoniums, Primulas, wallflowers,Begonia semperflorens etc and keeps the focal point plants e.g. Canna, Abutilon, Cordyline etc. over the winter in their greenhouses. To overwinter the thousands of tender plants would cost a prohibitive amount in labour, space and heating. This kind of old fashioned formal bedding is only used in the main historic parks and in the city centre in the from of hanging baskets. Elsewhere it is trees, shrubs and perennials. Personally, I consider it a good use of my council tax. I enjoy seeing the plantings and I know it contributes the enjoyment of visitors who contribute massively to the local economy. You can't put a monetary cost on people's mental well being. However, I only like this style of gardening in formal situations. I never use bedding in my own garden.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 2:35PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Yea Toni, i guess thats the same thing, also providing housing, arranging repairs to rented properties, usually by cowboys, doing garden work, litter collection etc.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 3:02PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Those plants in the picture are what we refer to as zonal geraniums, so inexpensively mass produced by seed by the gazillions that it makes perfect sense to treat them as annuals. Yes, yes...I know that they are Pelargonium x hortorum!

Seasonal color is important to people. It's been proven to have a psychological effect on residents, shoppers, visitors, etc. Hardly a waste, but a real and important investment in people. It's an expense that rarely gets the axe in a budget crunch.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 4:25PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Pelargonium zonale actually, or at least they were....

But aside from the money wasting side of things, I just find it sad that so many plants in people's gardens are gonna be mush real soon, cos we got a major cold front coming!
Batten down the hatches!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 5:02PM
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I've seen in forum discussions where in some of the very cold parts of the US the local aurthorities plant advanced tropical palms for the summer to give a tropical effect. These are then left and die when the cold weather sets in. The dead palms are removed and in the following summer replaced with new palms, only to follow the same circular pattern. The forum discussions focus mainly on two aspects. One is the 'morality' of plantings like that which is a death sentence for the palms. And of course the other is the expense/waste. Palms of that size, and in those areas are a very expensive commodity. However, the justification links in with appearances and tourism. Tropical appearance is important in filling holiday accommodation in coastal areas and boosting local retail business.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 5:27PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia


I was thinking the same thing..

We see it here in the northern States like Delaware, Ocean City MD. They buy these huge palms just for the tourist only to be pulled up at the end of the season and then left for dead.

Breaks my heart. I am a huge fan of Palms..

I have often thought of saving some when i see them, but how could i bring them home when they way 500 lbs? I dont have anymore room for them either.

Larry.. I feel your frustration.

I guess the amount of dollars the tourist bring in makes up for the loss.. in their eyes..

We the plant lovers, see it differently.

Great topic.

Take care,


    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 10:42PM
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Mostly we are thinking about this from a gardener's standpoint, but just think about all the trees, perennials etc. that we kill all the time for making room for hotels, houses, selling them for the houseplant trade illegally, harvesting forests illegally to make furniture or grow cattle etc. etc. on and on, that a few Pelargoniums are small potatoes in my eyes. It is sad on the individual plant scale, and we wouldn't really do this to our favorite plants for sure, but sheesh! A little perspective makes a big difference to my eyes.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 8:51AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I might be amused or maybe even slightly incredulous about how another private citizen spends his money, but the fact is, how I feel doesn't matter, and it's none of my business - unless his actions directly infringe on my rights.

Usually, if it's a public entity that I suspect as being wasteful, I might consider my vote as my voice after carefully considering what a reasonable man might conclude about whether the common good is being served. If I think a reasonable man would conclude an action is wasteful or difficult to construe as being done in the light of being for the common good, I might make a phone call to gently press the point that my vote is indeed my voice and I can be expected to use it.

Applying the 'reasonable man standard' by asking myself "What would a reasonable man do or conclude about a particular situation" is something I use for guidance on a very regular basis - even here on the forums. It's amazing how well it works to bring someone (ourselves, is what I mean here) around to being, well ......... reasonable.

Anyway - when I ask myself if a reasonable man would be going on about the reasonable man standard on a forum for houseplant growers, I can see I'm in serious jeopardy of being considered witless, so I'm cutting myself off before I erase any vestige of doubt.


    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 10:20AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)


    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 10:47AM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Err, its been a long day and I didnt get any of that!

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 11:10AM
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