Cold winter, building boom cause plants to be in short supply across Triangle

Posted May 1, 2018 6:33 p.m. EDT

— A shortage of inventory for landscapers and homeowners means plants are in short supply across the Triangle.

Ginny Price, who has worked at Swift Creek Nursery in Clayton for 16 years, said she has never seen a year like this.

"It's been busy. Demand is high this year," she said.

Those who work at Swift Creek blame the building boom. Landscaping crews are busier than they have been for years.

"It is just a fact there are not enough plants to go around," said owner Lanny Thomas. "We have probably been in operation here on Cleveland Road in Johnston County for 40 years. This is probably one of the best years ever."

Thomas said he has a 19-person staff doing all they can to keep up with the demand.

"Right now, we're selling some of next fall's crop of plants at a smaller size, so that's going to mean the shortage of size and availability is going to last another couple of years at least."

The shortage impact is greatest on commercial landscapers fulfilling big jobs, but Price has a tip for homeowners.

"If it is something that you're having a hard time finding, and you stumble across it, I'm telling all my customers, get it, don't wait, because someone is going to buy it while you're trying to make up your mind and when you go back it probably won't be there," she said.

Thomas said he is trucking in a couple of thousand plants a month from other states to meet the demand.

He also says many of his plants are about two weeks behind schedule due to the cold weather.