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Shopping for Plants at the Grocery Store

There are good deals and there are bad deals

As Home Depot keeps reminding us in what seems like an endless succession of TV commercials, it is spring and time for planting.  

But before I run out on the highway to Home Depot, I check out the offerings closest to home –the local supermarkets and the local nurseries.  And in the past week or so I’ve found some good looking plants at reasonable prices.

But the Ridgewood was not one of them. The week after Easter, there were past-their-prime tulips on display, their flowers fading and their leaves flopping.  But prices were not dropping. True, six inch pots were offered at two for $10, but the eight inch pots, which were in no better shape went for $12.99. The same went for pots  of hyacinths.  

The only other plants on display were petunias in hanging baskets. The next week, only the 10-inch baskets were on offer. The dying tulips had disappeared. But those petunias were going for $19.99.  

At , the hanging baskets were $12.99 and the selections included, in addition to some pretty geraniums and petunias, some good looking baskets of everbearing strawberries. I would have been tempted, but strawberry plants I bought at Rohsler’s last year have reappeared after a long winter’s nap.

Stop & Shop also had herbs for $1.99 a pot, including mint. Some of the pots missed the watering hose and were wilted. But mint is tough and would probably snap back with some care. The thing is, mint is really invasive and I learned too late it needs to be buried in a pot to keep it in bounds.  

Stop & Shop’s 10 inch “salad bowls” held different kinds of lettuce plants. They were going for $12.99, but these were all past their prime except for some with a lot of arugula. You’d be a lot better off just buying the seeds for $2 and throwing them in a pot. The Brits don’t call arugula rocket for nothing. It is quick to germinate and grow to edible size. If you put them in the garden and neglect a few of them, they grow flower heads and re-seed themselves.  

I once put in “Italian” arugula not realizing it is also called rustic or wild arugula and again the name is apt. It self seeded year after year. If you love arugula, I definitely recommend growing your own. The rocket version is milder than the wild version, but my husband and I love them both.

Near Stop & Shop’s back entrance, annuals in pots were being offered at two for $5, including some good looking yellow marigolds. But I passed them by. I like to wait until the nights are consistently at least in the 50s to plant out marigolds.

Near the front entrance, there were 6 packs of annuals for $5.99, and pots of perennials such as creeping phlox and a nice variety of candytuft $5.99. (These I did not pass on, buying three.) 

had hanging baskets for $16.99, more than Stop & Shop but less than  King’s. There were also 12-inch planters for $19.99 which held nice selections of plants. 

Their annuals were $6.99 for a six pack, but the individual pots were slightly bigger, with more room for root growth, than the $5.99 packs at Stop & Shop. 

Both King’s and Whole Foods were offering potted hydrangeas inside their entrances but while King’s priced them at $29.99 (and a few already had wilted blooms), Whole Foods’ plants were going for a little more than half that and were fresher.  

My tour proved that shopping around local markets, even with sky high gas prices, can save money. Since we have to visit them anyway, buying plants at supermarkets is handier than going to a nursery though we are blessed with a lot of good ones in the towns around Ridgewood (like ). And you can’t beat nurseries for variety. 

As for my quarrel with the quality of King’s spring plant offerings, all was forgiven when I spotted my favorite paper towels at $6.99 a pack instead of $11.99 or more.  It made both my recent trips worth it even if I didn’t buy any plants.   

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