Consumer confusion we can’t blame on Home Depot


It is, however, a Caryopteris, specifically C. clandonensis ‘Dark
Knight.’  (At least they got the cultivar right.) This
nursery-to-the-big-boxes chose to scorn the word Caryopteris, which
happens to also be its most commonly used name, and slap a
shortened version of the already outdated and confusing common name
"Blue Mist Spirea" on the damn plants and ship them off by the
thousands to confused homeowners everywhere.

Now, am I just picking nits about a distinction without a
difference?  Hardly!  Spireas are woody shrubs that bloom in spring and
early summer
and are treated like shrubs.  Caryopteris are semi-woody plants that
are treated as herbaceous perennials, cut back hard in winter.  They
bloom July through September.  Yeah, I’d say there’s a difference.

I think I’ll send this link to the busy folks at Hopewell Nursery
with the suggestion that they find a actual plant person to write their
labels.  Hardly a radical notion, right?  Let’s see if they respond.  And maybe I’ve been too quick to let Home Depot off the hook after all.  They’re buying from these mislabelers, right?  Now I’ll be really be shocked if they respond.


  1. Being from Georgia, I have a lot of respect for Home Depot’s owners (the Georgia Aquarium is like no aquarium I’ve seen), but…

    This Good/Better/Best policy has all the makings of a marketing agreement between Home Depot and its vendors. I imagine it went something like this…

    Home Depot: Vendor, we’re really powerful and we want a better price on your products.

    Vendor: Fine, are you willing to buy more of our product?

    Home Depot: Sure.

    Vendor: Oh, there’s one other thing, we’re concerned about Home Depot offering your own generic brands, since this cuts into our sales. You’re our best customer, but you’re also one of our biggest competitors.

    Home Depot: Hmmm…
    Vendor: Hmmm…

    “Let’s get the marketing departments involved.”

    6 months later it is announced that Home Depot has a great new good/better/best program.

    All this is my own fantasizing of what ‘might have happened’ and has no real bearing on reality.

    Or does it?


  2. This is an example of the cavalier attitude these types of stores operate with. Does any one really think that Home Depot cares if the plants are mislabeled? Long as they sell. If you have a problem, just bring it back to them and they will replace the plant. Next!

    The grower is under great pressure to keep the prices down, and has to hire people who don’t care, or don’t know what type of plant it is. The grower only gets paid if the plants sell. They will have to pick up the unsold plants. Take a look behind the Home Depot ‘Garden Center’ and you will find lots of distressed and dead plants headed back to the growers.

    We small garden centers have to buy the plants before we sell them, or at least within 30 days. We need to keep them healthy and labeled properly. We don’t have the option of “good, better, and best.” It has to be the best all the time. When a plant dies it doesn’t go back to the grower, but into the garbage.

    This is just a further sign of the “homogenization” of gardening at the chains. What’s it matter if the plant is mislabeled? It’s pretty and will look great for the party. Good, better and best are a joke, but will be embraced by the public that uses these places for their sole source of garden supplies. This is o.k. though, as long as the quality, smaller garden centers can get the word out that there is an alternative.

  3. Weird. I guess I don’t get the good/better/best thing. If I’m going to pay a premium for a plant (I’m assuming they cost more as the grading goes up), I’m sure as hell not going to do it at Home Depot on a “Proven Winners” brand. I’d rather have bottom of the line at my local nursery than top of the line at Home Depot.

  4. “Welcome to Hopewell Nursery

    Hopewell Nursery started as a result of a plan to incorporate a first class golf course with _first class landscape material_, combining the number one sport Golf with the number one pastime Gardening.”

    Eeeyow. Read on, and find they basically started the nursery to get plants for the golf course. Now they want to be “your one-stop source for all your green goods needs.”

    I always wondered who grows those poor lonely “landscape materials” that get plunked into borders around parking lots and gas stations that nobody cares about. Now I think I know.

  5. “Green goods”? Firefly, there’s something about that term that gives me the creeps. Are mulch and compost now called “brown goods”?

    Plants with no labels or incorrect labels aren’t a new thing – in the early seventies they were terrible, too. Finding out the name of what you’d brought home was a lot harder, then, and it usually involved pulling dozens of books from the library reference shelves.


  6. I guess I’m a nattering nerd too regarding binomials, but they are ALWAYS to be presented in either italics or underlined. NEVER EVER in plain text. Places and people that pose as plant experts constantly make this very basic mistake. I see it constantly in gardening magazines and on nursery labels.

  7. My pet peeve is when writers capitalize the species name. Only the genus names gets capitalized.

    After all, everyone knows it’s Homo sapiens, not Homo Sapiens. No different for plants or any other organism.

  8. I agree with Chuck B. and Meredith… the proper use of the Latin name, italicized, with proper use of a capital letter only on the genus name.

  9. Year after year the Home Depot sends out a press release on how they are going to spend millions of dollars on customer service. I have a news flash for the Home Depot “It is not working” When I signed my contract on 9-14-05 the Home Depot was full of promises and now they can not seem to keep them. Now almost 14 months later and problems still are not corrected you can see the Home Depot just does not care about its customers. They will lose one customer at a time and end up like the old HQ. You can visit my web site at to see the destruction.

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