Killing Your Plants Is A Rite Of Passage
For those who garden or landscape, the dread of killing a plant can be a huge psychological barrier to the enjoyment of having a garden. Not only is there the anxiety of seeing a perfectly good plant wither before your eyes and not know why, there’s also the financial loss associated with it. For many it results in throwing in the towel and labeling yourself a “Brown Thumb”. However, even for the most seasoned professional, plant killing is a rite of passage. We all go through it. Ask any self-respecting professional horticulturalist and the answer will inevitably be “I’ve killed more plants than I can possibly remember.” It’s probably the most difficult but crucially important experience on the road to becoming an experienced gardener. Growing plants can’t be solely taught by textbook, website, or classroom- it has to be lived. I recently spoke with a customer over the course of several weeks who was incredibly distraught over the slow death of a Mountain Laurel that she had purchased from us. Her angst and frustration was partially from the guilt of seeing the plant that she had lovingly nurtured, turn yellow and drop all its leaves, but also from the monetary hit and the ensuing hassle she was anticipating from asking us to replace it.
There is no denying that returns and refunds can quickly become adversarial between customer and grower, especially online where you can’t see the struggling plant in person. It’s widely regarded as one of the main deterrents from purchasing live plants online. On one hand, as a business owner I clearly understand the mindset of growers wanting to sell a plant and walk away with no guarantees, or base them on a time limit such as 30 days. Profit margins on growing plants is razor thin and growers will do anything to keep the bottom line strong with such a limited selling season.
However, creating stringent policies for endless scenarios of loss isn’t realistic or fair to either the customer or the grower. While applying rules to returns and refunds may solve the short-term dilemma of keeping the profits high, they also erode away our longer-term prospects of keeping you coming back to buy more in the future.
One of the cornerstones of our business from the onset has been to strategically shift our thinking and understand that the best way to grow our business, and promote our industry is by partnering and creating longer term relationships with our customers at the expense of short term profits. We do this by offering a guarantee that is rarely seen in the industry. 100% guarantee for any reason at any time. I’m all too aware that there are customers who try and game the system, and there always will be. However, the vast majority of customers who kill a plant are genuine in their desire to learn about their mistake and try again. If our business philosophy is to systematically take away the pain points and trepidation in purchasing plants online, we need to approach it in a holistic manner. I believe that comes down simply sharing the successes and failures together equally. Sometimes we will take the hit, or if you forgot to water the plant for 6 weeks you can logically understand it was your fault. Our goal is to encourage, support, and promote you on your journey, but mostly to create an ongoing relationship based on mutual respect.
Gardening and landscaping is a creative endeavor and like a great painter who spends years perfecting his technique, you need to do the same and experiment and learn. Most importantly you need to take your losses from every plant you kill and consider yourself a better gardener as a result. Don’t be too tough on yourself. Keep persevering and chalk up the losses as an inevitable part of the learning process. Reach out to us and ask questions – we have years of experience which we love to share. My great grandfather was a well known horticulturalist and subscribed to a philosophy we try to instill everyday with our customers - “Horticulture is a fine art which needs to be passed down generation to generation.” If you do happen to kill a plant- then try another one, and keep going. It’s part of the creative process. Don’t worry, we have your back as a team and are there to help you all along the way. Most importantly, enjoy yourself and have fun!
- Ulysses Hedrick