One plant: One company: Two packets: Two prices

It always pays to look before you buy. I have had a few problems with the sunflowers this year. They were so impressive last year that I knew I was going to have a problem getting a better display this year. But a combination of leaving some in their pots too long and then the munching of snails meant I had some gaps where I had planted them, in groups between the sweetcorn and behind some squashes, meant that I had to go to the local garden centre and get some more seeds to sow direct in the borders in the hope they would catch up.

I wanted giant sunflowers so ‘Russian Giant’ was the one for me. I surveyed the ranks of packs and noticed that there was a choice. Like many seed companies Thompson & Morgan offer a number of different ranges and some varieties appear in more than one range.

Can you spot the difference?

Can you spot the difference?

There was the standard pack or the ‘Start-a-Garden’ pack. I would assume the ‘Start-a-Garden’ range would be the user-friendly range and offer good value because it is presumably designed to encourage children and beginner gardeners to get planting. But I was wrong. As I discovered when I turned the pack over.

helianthus seeds  june 142

There is quite a difference in price. The seeds in the standard pack cost 4.5cents each while those in the ‘Start-a-Garden’ pack cost more than 6.5cents each. That is quite expensive for something that is grown for bird seed!

What was also interesting was that in one pack the seeds were large and striped black and white, as expected, but in the other they were smaller and pure white. I wonder which one is the right variety?


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4 Comments on “One plant: One company: Two packets: Two prices”

  1. lizard100
    June 22, 2014 at 7:14 am #

    I’ve also found that the current trend for making gardening more friendly, not just to children, seems to be a great opportunity for making money. Selling beetroot seedlings for examples at a pound each!

  2. thebikinggardener
    June 22, 2014 at 11:46 am #

    Yes I agree. I give regular talks about growing veg and I always tell people not to buy root crops in cell packs. I have even seen turnips and radishes sold this way. It is exploiting people and will put people off gardening.

  3. alderandash
    June 24, 2014 at 6:55 pm #

    Interesting…I run a garden club at my daughters school, and I’ve found that the bright, cheerful seed packets aimed at kids or marketed as ‘easy to grow’ always seem to have less in!!! Meanies. I usually just use up my own leftover seeds for the school club.

    Interesting about the sunflowers getting pot bound – I’ve had some that just didn’t seem to get going; I never repotted them as I kept thinking I’d wait til they got bigger, but they never did! Maybe this is where I went wrong. (I’ve never had trouble with sunflowers before, honestly! Hmmm. I may have to retire from the school garden club if I can’t even grow a proper sunflower….:)

    • thebikinggardener
      June 24, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

      It is a shame this happens because the chances are that the varieties in these packs are cheap ones too. It is like those collections of plants for a ‘complete border’ at a silly bargain price – they are mostly common, cheap and not really very good plants that a beginner will end up wanting to spray with weedkiller after a few years! If you let sunflowers get potbound they will flower but they won’t get big so you have to be careful. Because I have lost so many to snails I have resown direct – its late but I am sure I will get flowers in September. I am sure you can grow sunflowers really 🙂

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