Garden Column

Spring update on the state of the industry

Happy spring!

An update on the status of the nursery/landscape industry seems to be in order.
The catastrophic freeze in February left landscapes in Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi, and
upper Florida in a state of devastation. It just so happens that 70% or more of all shrubs,
plants, trees that do well in our area are grown in the same locations as the freeze and the
farmers/growers/farms lost from 20%-90% of their crop for resale for the spring season; thus
the severe shortages and soaring prices on plants due to an 1000% increase in demand.
Will this change? Yes, as growers can bring on additional crops ready for the market …they
will……..they are growing as fast as Mother Nature allows. Will the plant prices come down?
Yes, when the supply far exceeds the demand and inventory is restored in the coming 18-24
months, there is a higher probability pricing will decrease.
Plants such as plumbago, esperanza, philodendrum, plumeria, and other semi
tropicals/tropicals are in extreme high demand and, if found, buy at that time. This season,
unlike any other, inventory changes drastically from one minute to the next with everyone
“fishing in the same hole”.

Folks often ask “why don’t we just carry plants that will withstand single digit temperatures”?
That would be easy, but the plants that will withstand single digit temperatures will not survive
our Texas heat and the soil temperatures in summer. This is why plants such as peonies, lilacs,
and rhododendrons will not grow in Texas for more than a few months.

On the flip side, many plants that were assumed to be fatalities are returning. Keep in mind
that we are 30 days behind the calendar date and the soil temperature is still cool. I would
personally use mid-May as a litmus test for visible new growth before discarding.
Plants such as azaleas and camellias were burned beyond recognition, are now returning.

Many area plants that suffered severe foliage burn need to be trimmed back to 24”-36” in
height. New growth will begin to appear within 3-6 weeks, and pruning will ensure the new
growth begins at the soil level and not at the tip of the plant…….resulting in spindly trunks and
stems with no growth in the bottom third of the plant. This is the result of “poor pruning”
techniques.

In seasons past, many of us, bypassed hardy plants with a fertilization schedule. This season,
fertilizing everything is highly recommended. Plants received a “whammy” and need all the
extra help they can get. There is a fertilizer for everyone and every plant known to man on the
market. Some fertilizers are a general ratio and other are for specific needs, such as hibiscus or
palms. Visit your favorite independent garden center for accurate information on what to use,
when, and on what……it is amazing how much time and money you save with the correct
information.

As many of you have noticed, this spring is extremely dry and sprinkler systems need to be
running 3x a week at 15-20 minutes per station, depending on location. Irrigators are
overwhelmed with service calls, so be patient and polite, these guys are doing their best to
accommodate existing and new customers.

It is a very busy spring season in the garden industry, many folks are just beginning to get out
and about and the season of blooms has begun.

Enjoy, have fun, love and laugh…..Happy
Gardening!