Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Annual Rant About Bare-Root Roses in Bags

I ran to Walmart to buy a few things yesterday afternoon, and I saw THIS outside the main door:



Stop me if you've heard this before ...

JUST SAY NO TO ROSES IN BAGS!!

This display is full of roses with names that we remember our mothers and grandmothers growing:  John F. Kennedy, Pink Peace, Seafoam, Don Juan, and America, for example.  At $4.25 each, who wouldn't want to scoop up a whole armload and plant a beautiful rose garden at a bargain price?



Don't fall for it!  These roses are ones that would be rejected by big-name nurseries.  (Grade 1 1/2 is a lower grade than the Grade 1 that most nurseries sell.)  The growers package these in tiny bags, for cheaper shipping, with beautiful (desceptive) photos, to lure unsuspecting customers.  Gardeners (and want-to-be-gardeners) are sick of winter by now, and they come across a bright display with the promise of beautiful summer flowers.  We get sucked in by the familiar names ... I forgot to tell you, these roses are notorious for NOT being the rose they say they are on the label.



At this price, how can this NOT be a bargain, you ask?  Let's imagine that a beginning rose gardener decides to take a chance and buy some of these $4.25 roses. The roses struggle and fail to thrive. The gardener shoulders the blame, figuring that the roses aren't growing well because of something he/she must be doing wrong.  Where he/she went wrong was by buying roses that are probably not healthy in the first place. All the ground preparation, fertilizer, fungicide, and care in the world won't make a healthy rose out of an unhealthy, poorly packaged, or damaged rose.



These roses fit into these tiny little plastic bags because they have had most of their roots chopped off.  See what they look like without the packaging?  (I bought the roses in this photo a few years ago.  See, even I'm not immune to their appeal.)



For comparison, this is what a bare-root rose SHOULD look like, with a large healthy root system, and carefully pruned green canes without wax.


 

This year, for the first time, I saw Knock Out roses on the display.  People equate Knock Out with "easy to grow", so it only makes sense that they've trickled down to this level.  (If you missed my post earlier in the week about Easy Care Heirloom Roses, as an alternative to Knock Out, click HERE.)



Sometimes, it seems as if I'm spitting into the wind.  I'm one voice, against a marketing machine with pretty pictures and bargain prices.  Maybe if I do this long enough, I'll make some progress.

27 comments:

  1. The advantage to spitting into the wind is that you can smell the stink coming rather than being caught by surprise. I had wondered about those roses the last time I was in the states. Now I know.

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  2. I wish more of the general public were aware of this blogpost. It would prevent many people from thinking they just couldn't grow roses. If people would bother to educate themselves just a little bit they wouldn't find themselves with those dead bodybag roses in their yard.

    And although I don't buy these roses I admit to feeling sorry for them when I see them in the store, which seems pretty silly. :0

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  3. Very informative post. I like the comparison on roots. Glad to say I've never bought a rose in a bag. (At least, not that I recall!)

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  4. I'm afraid, Connie, that I've succumbed. Seems like there is always one of these that is an unusual cultivar I've been searching for....so I pick them up as soon as they hit the shelves (before the WalMart/Home Depot employees let them freeze to death) and then plant the graft very very deep...to get the thing to grow own root. Takes a bit, but I've got a least a few new OGR's this way.

    For the general public, though, I agree, that they help perpetuate the "roses are annuals" myth.

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  5. You've made progress today! At least with one person! I admit it...I would have fallen for this! I have several unhealthy roses that came from various stores (Lowe's, Home Depot, Walmart), and as much as I have babied them, they've never thrived. I have learned from my mistake, and that has been verified by your post. Thanks so much for this post!

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  6. One of the problems that come in to play in my opinion,most Walmart shoppers are frugal.BECAUSE of that they always believe they are getting a good deal on the plants.What really fries me though is when the subpar bushes fail to grow and or die,then roses get a bad rap as being difficult to grow.
    R

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  7. I have to repeat to myself "walk away, walk away, walk away" when I see these. Sometimes I'm weak, but more and more it works. Even my husband can tell the difference in the 'bargain' roses and the others in my garden! That says a lot!

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  8. I have so little room for beautiful plants, and I'm not going to waste that space on the packaged waxed roses. I'll wait and order from you!

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  9. You're right, Connie, and you've done a good thing. I just feel sorry for these poor roses. It's so sad that not even good care will make them right. The worst part is that people who buy them stop trusting people who sell roses - any roses - besides thinking they can't grow them. Walmart usually cares about the quality of stuff they sell. I may say something to them the next time I shop there. I just saw the Aldi flyer with the $4.99 roses in it. I guess they're everywhere.

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  10. I fell victim a year or so ago, and ended up with two that didn't live and two of the ugliest roses I have ever seen in my life. They get shovel pruned in the next few weeks to make room for new, healthy, vigorous roses that I don't have to figure out a way to release from wax. It makes me very angry now any time I see them. Moreover, I also get slightly peeved when I go to any big box store that sells roses. Even potted ones. Lowes and Home Depot have the shabbiest collection of roses I have ever seen, mostly knock-outs and a few really boring varieties. I have converted friends and family to only buying antiques, only from reputable small nurseries either online or in person, and doing the legwork to realize the differences. We may each only be one person, but look how many of us there are!

    Ciao,
    Ken

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  11. Just another reason why I don't take my money over to Wally World.

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  12. When people come into the nursery asking about roses, I always direct them straight to you :)

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  13. I hear you loud and clear. I too saw the difference years ago. When I unpacked it and saw the travesty within I new the plant would struggle. It did live and was a fine climber, but I knew I would never purchase these cheapies again. It only takes getting the bare root roses from a reputable grower one time to know the difference and always place your orders there again.

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  14. I totally agree. Those side-by-side pictures of the root systems are an eye-opener, what a difference! Is the second rose from your nursery?

    Thank you for putting my blog on your blog roll. I am honored.

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  15. Dear Connie, This posting is a 'must read' for every gardener! I do not buy plants from the big box stores, but know far too many fall for their 'bargains'. P x

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  16. I didn't know this! So glad you informed me!
    Brenda

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  17. You are so right about body bag roses. Why buy something that's already half dead when there are so many wonderful varieties available from people who love roses and want their roses to thrive in your garden?

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  18. I've never bought one and won't for sure now! I always thought they looked sad.

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  19. I actually persuaded a man from getting body bagged knockouts at Home Depot the other day. I saw them on the rack by the entrance. He asked me about the roses. I told him it had a 50/50 chance of survival and if he was stuck on a knockout at least get a potted one in the nursery section, not a body bag one.

    I have to say that before I knew better, I had a lot of body bags. I still have 3 doing well in my yard. But one is virused.

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  20. Hello Connie,Walmart has taken over our large supermarket chain (Asda) Great and important information you give in this post. The saying hear in Scotland is (by cheap, buy dear)Oh by the way dear means expensive. Keep up the good work and thanks for visiting my site.

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  21. Well, you sure got to me. I would have never known if you hadn't pointed it out. And I would have blamed myself when they didn't thrive. Thanks, Connie.

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  22. Great post! Well stated. I have forwarded this link to many of my "bargin hunting" friends. I just cringe everytime I see these and have told many with them in their buggy, to think twice.... to no avail....

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  23. Thank you for stating this so eloquently-but-forcefully. Friends don't let friends buy crap roses!

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  24. Wow, this is great. I found you while trying to buy bare root roses. I never buy from walmart. I need to check out more of your site.

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  25. THANK YOU for this post!!!! I am a new gardener and I DID buy 2 of these roses from Lowes about 2 months ago. One of them is actually beginning to grow...we'll see how well it does. The other one has black canes...can't be a good thing, but I had no idea. I will NOT make this mistake again. I really appreciate your information!!!

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  26. I have had good luck with body bag roses BUT ONLY THE ONES FROM ALDI! If they have wax FORGET IT. They never thrive with the wax. And the ones I got at aldi are grade 1. They were not the absolute best roses I've bought, but they were in good condition, with very nice green stems and decent roots. However, the ones from Costco, Big Lots, Walmart and such have all been a disaster. If you have the luck of finding them at Aldi in the early spring go for it, but otherwise, stay far far away.

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    Replies
    1. I have never looked at the roses at Aldi, though I have seen them advertised. I figure that any rose can work out, as long as we don't have any more than our purchase price worth of hopes in it. $3-$5 roses should have $3-$5 expectations, for example. If it performs better than that, that's great. Just accept that it may not grow well, or it may not be the rose that's on the package. As long as we go in with our eyes open and our expectations in check, there's no harm.

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