Big box store fails


After 6 years of enjoying Flavor King, Flavor Supreme, Flavor Grenade, Splash, Beauty and Satsuma plum, HD plums seem not in the good flavor category.


The HD here sticks them in the glass-enclosed entrance area, so they get additional heat from the sun too. They often have significant new growth for unwatered, bare-root plants… and yes, this is when it is still getting into single digits overnight.


I pretty much have to snatch them as soon as they get stocked.


I’ve had good and bad at big box stores, and the same is true of mail order nurseries.

Some successes - four Greenspire lindens, a Crimson King maple, and a Crimson Pointe plum, all bought as late summer close outs. They were pot bound, which I remedied by bare-rooting and root pruning, and all thrived and are handsome trees, six years later. My Stanley plum, Ranier cherry, and Montmorency cherry were also big box store, and they have thrived. Also a couple of birches.

On the other hand, Ebony King blackberry was a real mess, rangy, thorny, and the berries were not very good. I bought goji berries, strawberries, and blueberries that died after a few months.

What I like is I can see what I’m buying. I can choose the specimen that I like the best. And no postage and handling. And I dont have to wonder if the box was delivered and sitting in the sun until I get home. Some big box store trees are too big to get through mail order.

I have bought some plants and stored them for a while until the ground was ready, I have some Itoh peonies that I bought 2 weeks ago. They were a good price. I will plant them today or soon.


The big box store near me had all of their trees in the parking lot last year, mostly leafed out, when along came an 18" snowstorm. I stopped by a couple weeks later and there’s a guy watering them all, with them all covered in dried up, dead leaves. They’ll be fine he says. Lol


My Sam’s club had a nice collection of blueberry plants last week. Blueberries don’t grow here, but I guess there’s always containers. I never heard of most of the varieties, but I think they are Southern Highbush, just peachy for the Rocky Mountains. It’s also at least a month before planting season.

So, to sum up: Wrong region, wrong plants, wrong cultivar, wrong time. For the life of me, I can’t understand how hard it would be for logistical wonders like the big box stores to program their computers to come within a country mile of adapted plants delivered at planting time.


The only place I’ve seen them is at Tractor Supply. We planted an Oregon Champion from them two years ago, and out of three plants we have, it’s our biggest GB. It’s about two feet tall and gave us a few berries last year. Our Jeanne and Poorman plants are still pretty small.

I also bought a Hinnomaki Red from them, and it didn’t make it. But I also tried a HR from another vendor and it croaked too the first year. So guess that variety is a no-go here.


It’s too hot here for gooseberries or currants. I tried to grow them in shade. They died first year. TS has them EVERY YEAR here. It’s ridiculous what they sell to people here that don’t have a clue—just see a picture and want to grow it.

I wholeheartedly agree!!!



Or to not place dormant plants inside a 70° store so that they’re growing and sprouting foliage six weeks before its safe to put them outside.

The usual response is “they’ll be OK” or “they will be fine”. Yes, most of the time a healthy plant will survive that, but it doesn’t mean it’s GOOD for them.


I tried gooseberry last year. I know it is too hot but in shade, in 5 gallon bucket it did survive, but barely.

I think TS buys the same thing for all their stores in Texas. I checked on the TS in Pt Arthur, just a couple miles from the coast and they had the same fruit trees as the one in Waco.

I also noticed that the Lowes in Pt Arthur had Loring peach, requiring 700 chill hours. The Lowes further north in Beaumont did not have them, but almost all the Box stores have Tropic Beauty, with a very low chill requirements. Good for Pt Arthur but probalby too far north for anyone else.


Our Lowe’s has Loring too but then we usually able to get 700 or more chilling hours. I think Lowe’s is more attuned to local needs than some of the others. I don’t go to HD that often. Walmart here has some trees from a local nursery but we have a bunch of local tree farms that ship all over the country so what they stock doesn’t always grow/produce here. I just really hate them selling to the average joe who doesn’t know how to buy.

My English husband loves gooseberry. We gave it a try but they died in a year that was not that hot.


With Lowes and HD I have heard that it depends on the buyer. At 700 hours it is a stretch for me. But maybe it will make in the cold years.

I am also about 3 to 5 degrees cooler in the summer than you. We have even more humidity than you. It just can’t get in the high 90’s with that much humidity in the air. Funny, I have a friend from England that wanted me to try gooseberries. Not sure if it will make it again, but it did survive one year.


have you guys tried crandall or western golden currants? supposedly more drought and heat tolerant than european black currants. they are native to the midwest and western US. might tolerate your weather much better. if you want some cuttings pm me in early may and il send you some. there are some currants and gooseberries native to s CA. i ran across a nursery that sold them online. don’t remember the name. they are heat tolerant to z9a. try a search and maybe you can find them. not euopean gooseberries but better than none. :wink:


Gary, 700 chill hours should not be pushing it too much where you are now, maybe what every 3rd year you will get that high? I just ran the numbers for DeRidder using the University of Mississippi chill hour calculator and we are over 600 (648 between 32-45F) and this has been a warm winter with only 54 hours below freezing, I doubt next weeks cold snap will really count due all the warm weather the last couple of weeks.


Mississippi State University.


Do a lot of you do what I do and buy a 22-25$ pear or apple or peach / plum and stick 8 or 10 scions on it or completely turn it into one cultivar and have a big tree in two years?


I’ve been very impressed with the trees I got at Costco this year. They were beautiful,large and healthy. Only 14.98. No shipping price added on. And pretty good varieties. I am going to graft others on too.
They are from a large wholesale nursery called Haworth which seems reputable and has a phone number for questions.


Do a lot of you do what I do and buy a 22-25$ pear or apple or peach / plum and stick 8 or 10 scions on it or completely turn it into one cultivar and have a big tree in two years?

Not yet, but I plan to do that this year and have recommended it:


I think Crandall is what I planted here. I’ll check out the Cali gooseberries. Cali doesn’t get cold but for the most part (except the desert areas) doesn’t have the heat that we have here. It’s kinda hard with just using zone requirements to know what to grow. London and most of England is in the same or greater hardiness zone…but they don’t have the heat that we get. Thanks for the tip.


i was stationed at white sands missle range, N.M. about 20min. drive from el paso back in the early 90’s. i remember that heat well! :wink: