Truth in Advertising

I am always amazed at the deceitfulness of people who sell plants through catalogs and greenhouses.   It is easy to be fooled  into buying plants that just won’t work in your climate zone  if you don’t know your flora.  The most recent scam up here is the marketing of hydrangea macrophllya,  a group of hydrangeas that just won’t grow here but are probably the prettiest ones for stunning shades  of pink and blue. They are tempting, but it is just too cold here, and unless you are prepared to mulch pretty heavily in the winter, they just won’t do much after the first year. We have tremendous luck with hydrangea arborescens (the big, white, poofy ones) and hydrangea paniculata (ones with pointy flowers that often turn pink at the end of summer).

Hybrid tea roses were marketed for years as good to zone 4, but now are sold with the disclaimer that they are only good to zone 5.  They really only do well here if you cap them with rose cones in the fall and mulch heavily. We used to have lots of tea roses, but we got pretty tired of all the fuss. We planted Morden roses from Manitoba instead.  They are very cold hardy.  We have a few hybrid teas in the yard that do well since we seem to have created a micro-climate in the yard with shrubs and fences that keeps temperatures a little warmer than in other parts of the yard.  The pictures below show a hybrid tea we never cap or mulch that comes back every year and is a really stunner.


A couple of years ago we bought two Morden roses that were supposed to be only four feet tall at the most.  One turned out to be a climbing rose that had multiple, six foot long branches.  It was not labeled as a climbing rose. It was in a part of the yard that wouldn’t have supported a trellis, so it  flopped around and got tangled in everything around it. It mercifully died last winter so we dug it up, providing room for one nearby that we assumed was a four feet tall rose as it had been labeled. As you can see in the next photo, it, too, is starting to act like something else.


It is a little hard to see, but the rose put out a couple of stems that were at least seven feet tall.  Husband cut them off after I took the photo. I hope this was just a fluke.  I just don’t know who in the plant world to trust anymore.

Who do you trust?  When have you had something that didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to? When has a plant fooled you?

20 thoughts on “Truth in Advertising”

  1. Back when I gardened I assumed all plants were one zone too optimistic, whether in books or on tags and or in catalogs.
    Son and grandson fly home today.


  2. It is amazing what fencing and trees can do to create a micro-climate. We have hazel shrubs in our yard that landscaping friends tell us we shouldn’t be able to grow here. Anything that cuts the wind can raise the temperature close to the house by almost 5 degrees, which I guess is enough to make some plants winter over successfully.


    1. I have noticed that yards that are next to a brick house or retaining wall tend to be a little warmer than other areas – the brick absorbs sun during the day and holds the heat for quite some time after sunset.


  3. I sometimes ponder the amount of conversation, speech or written communication we hear . . . specifically wondering how much of it is driven by the need to persuade or sell me something. If someone tells me it is “hot out there today,” that’s a simple matter of sharing information. If someone tells me it is hot again, and that is evidence of climate change, that is persuasion. My sense is that a large share of the speech we hear (read, observe) is trying to sell something because they want my money or my support.

    Web sites or articles in newspapers that I read are filled with commentary that pretends to be informational but is actually persuasive or commercial.

    And I wonder if this is changing. Was there a time when people just shared information? Or have people always been motivated by a drive to persuade others?


      1. I can’t answer that question for current students. Students of our generation were taught that objectivity was desirable and more or less attainable. Journalists were trained to be as objective as possible. Or, if they were trying to pass along opinion, it should be clearly labeled.

        My sense is that current journalists no longer agree that objectivity is possible. I don’t know if that is reflected in college journalism programs.

        I only took one course in journalism, and it was “Public Opinion and Propaganda.” It was the single most useful and impactful course I ever took (and I took a LOT of courses).

        Liked by 1 person

    1. i think the real news guys follow walter cronkites lead
      fox and it’s equivilant lefties do not
      mpr tried hard not to show bias but with w it was difficult with 45 it’s impossible

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Many years ago I bought some plants from a nursery catalog that were promoted as a fast-growing hedge plant. I was on a budget and wanted to get something that wouldn’t cost an arm and a log, and these seemed to be pretty cheap. They were Chinese elms. Unfortunately, they have the growth habit of a tree, not a hedge plant. They don’t branch at all well, and keep shooting up a central leader. The ones shown in the picture in the catalog must have required pruning every week to keep them compact.


  5. I don’t garden, so I don’t have this particular problem. However, if I buy clothes, shoes or other items that aren’t as pictured or don’t fit, I will quickly send them back for exchange or refund. I guess it’s harder for plants as it’s a very long time until you actually see how they turn out.


  6. One of my secretaries is Hispanic, and she and her her husband bought habanero pepper plants last spring, and were so disappointed to find that they were bell peppers instead.


  7. i only buy plants that are bullet proof
    hosta, lilies, native perrinials
    i sold plants from a texas rose grower years ago and was amazed at all the plants he sold that i’d never heard of because they don’t grow here

    my folks belonged to rose societies and theblike and learned techniques for wintering roses etc
    i prefer stuff i can mistreat

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Kids–

    We house sit and plant sit for our neighbors. She always says her plants have to be tough to survive her. I tell her “tough” is one thing; ten days of neglect on my part because I forget to water them is another.
    This summer, the two hanging plants in the middle of their yard that I drove by every day… just never registered with me until about 2 days before they returned. They weren’t exactly dead but they sure weren’t thriving…

    Liked by 1 person

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