The High Cost of Instant Gratification

A week ago I was picking up some plants for the container gardening that I do. As I strolled through the garden center, I realized something – plants are really expensive.

Wait, that’s not true. Let me try again – large plants that are in full bloom are really expensive.

I was amazed at some of the prices of annuals growing in quart size containers. If you have a large pot, you’ll need at least 4 or 5 of these and the container will end up costing a minimum of $30 with plants and soil.

I certainly don’t begrudge the garden centers for the prices they charge – it took very early planting and a lot of care to have a large annual in bloom for sale in May. I also understand the appeal of these plants. It feels good to take an empty pot and transform it into a blooming masterpiece all in one day – instant gratification at its best!

As I moved through the rows and rows of plants, I found myself picking up a couple of 6-pack containers of annuals and a few smaller single pots of calibrachoa, lantana, angel wing begonia and wave petunia. Between these plants, the seedlings of begonia, datura and hibiscus that I’d started from seed and some packets of seeds, I was able to fill the many containers that I have outside.



I’ll be the first to admit that the pots aren’t much to look at right now. The plants are small and the seeds are just starting to germinate. But when I look at these pots, I can envision what they’ll look like in a month or two. I can picture a pot of cosmos with calibrachoa¬†spilling over the sides. There might only be 6 leaves on the datura but I can see the double blooms in purple, white and yellow already. The marigolds might be small but I know that after a few warm weeks they’ll be full and healthy.



I understand the appeal of instant gratification when it comes to container gardening. If I had only one pot, I’d embrace it. If I was making a pot for a gift, I’d want the instant gratification look.

But there’s also something nice about seeing a plant grow and watching it move through the different stages of its life. In a world of emails, downloads and video on demand (all things I dearly love!), gardening can provide an opportunity to slow down and embrace some delayed gratification. It won’t be long before those pots with seedlings and small transplants will look just as good – if not better – than the instant gratification containers.

Plus, they’re a lot less expensive! (And that means you can grow more!!!)


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