Texas freeze, increased demand driving tropical plant shortages in St. Louis area

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BALLWIN, Mo. – There’s a shortage of many things it seems these days, and now you can add tropicals to that list.

At Greenscape Gardens in Ballwin, tables that would normally be full of luscious tropicals through June are already bare in spots and it’s only mid-May.

“Some of the more unusual varieties of hibiscus, some of the bigger elephant ears, a lot of our favorite palm trees, mandevillas, a lot of those things that we’re used to seeing through June we’re seeing a major shortage of across the country,” said General Manager of Greenscape Gardens, Jen Schamber.

One of the main reasons for the shortage is the historic freeze in Texas earlier this year.

“Which knocked out a huge percentage of people’s landscapes. And all of the tropical growers in that area just lost tons of their crops so all of the Florida growers that the rest of the country relies on started shipping all their plants over to Texas before we got a shot at them,” Schamber said.

The second reason is a result of people spending more time at home.

“This year in 2021 and also in 2020 we’ve welcomed a ton of new gardeners into the plant world. Which has been absolutely fantastic but of course new gardeners is going to increase the demand for this plant material and the supply is just not there to support them all,” she said.

The demand even higher this year than last.

“We’ve found that the house plant craze has caught on here in this area so not only are people enjoying their house plants they’re starting to venture outside now that its springtime and trying their green thumb out outdoors as well,” said Schamber.

And a warning to those who typically don’t get around to doing their patio pots until Memorial Day weekend when the pools are opening.

“This is definitely not the year to wait too much longer. Most of the suppliers and garden centers here in the St. Louis area are saying the supply is going to last about two more weeks. Beyond that, we’re going to be starting to kind of, you know, scrounge things up a bit,” she said.

And looks can be deceiving when it comes to inventory.

“Normally we would have a lot of stuff in back stock. We do not have that this year. And our growers and suppliers do not have that this year. So what you see is kind of what you’re going to get,” Schamber said. “For the most part, most of the growers are saying hey when we’re out we’re out.”

Which is quite unusual for the Sunshine State. And we’re going to have a while to wait before the next crop of tropicals.

“Florida never really ever ran out of tropicals before. And now they’re out early and we won’t see them again until March of next year,” said Schamber.

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