What the Nurseries Don't Tell You

Nurseries are great places to go and shop for plants and products. But sometimes they can’t provide you with the information you need. To make the best buys, this page will tell you what to look out for!

Razzel Dazzel Plants


I call them this because they are in full bloom with bright and dazzling flowers, and are placed on the edge of rows or centre aisle, where they are usually the first thing that catches your attention. Not only do they have a big impact on your eye, but also your wallet.

New releases or new cultivars often find their way there. If you are a plant collector and are familiar with the type of plant then it may be ok. However, these plants often have very specific requirements, are grown for climates other than yours and may be very difficult to maintain. They may only last out the season.

Sturt’s Desert Pea (Swainsona formosa), is an example. A fabulous, stunning plant that is the floral emblem of South Australia. It is native to the desert country of central Australia and grows in dry, sandy conditions. New cultivars have appeared on the market with larger red flowers and also pink and white. Buyers pay the high price because they think it will last, but because of its requirements very few will go through to the next year. It’s best to think of them as an annual, so would you pay $20 a pot for that?

Just remember, don’t get taken in by the ‘razzle dazzel’ plant. Think about your purchase, ask for advice on how to look after it and be aware that you could be wasting your money.

Qualified Staff

You may often be visiting a nursery looking for good expert advice for your garden. Many a time I’ve had questions about plant problems, plant choices for specific sites and even to design a whole garden!  I have had to call upon my expert knowledge and years of experience to give good advice.

Many nurseries employ qualified staff and plant experts who are not qualified, but their years of experience allow them to give good advice, particularly on the plants being sold in the nursery. However, there are also staff members who know very little about plants and how they grow, who can point out the location of a particular plant on the stands, but does not have the resources to give you expert advice.

On the whole, nurseries do not offer training to their staff and its wholly up to the individual to seek out and pay for a qualification. Some suppliers offer training days to some staff, where they show them their latest plants and products, and their uses. This is a help, but will not come near the years of training that a Qualified Horticulturalist has done. Some nurseries also, do not encourage their staff to give any advice on plants or services outside their range.

I recommend, that if you have a difficult or detailed question, ask to see a Qualified Horticulturalist or Expert. You will then be assured that you are getting the best advice available.