I'm beginning to think that some of people's gardening "failures" aren't really their fault and are the fault of the nursery where they bought the plant and/or got advice on planting. I'm not going to name the nurseries where these offenses occurred, but I can say that these incidents did not happen at a big box store.
Exhibit #1: Plants in pots that won't let them thrive.
Most people's first experience with growing something is a houseplant. I was at a nursery that was selling the *most* adorable little African violets in antique-esque measuring cups. So cute! SO unpractical. The cardinal rule of African violet growing is that they, like cats, hate being too wet. A measuring cup-turned-pot without a drainage hole is a surefire way to kill it ASAP.
Exhibit #2: Wrong information.
I want to grow a vine. After discussing several options with my horticulture teacher, I became interested in American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens). According to her (she's got like 20+ years in the field), unlike Japanese or Chinese wisteria, which are notorious for quickly taking down structures, American wisteria is much better behaved. I went to a nursery to seek it out (I have see it at Farmer's Markets). A helpful person approached me & asked if I was looking for something specific. I asked if they carried American wisterias. She said: "No, we don't. It just takes over and can pull down things, so we only carry the Japanese and Chinese ones. They are much better behaved." I didn't want to start an argument right there in the nursery (although, my iPhone was handy to show her she had mixed them up). And, as it turned out, they *did* carry cultivars of American wisteria...and Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinesis).
It's unfortunate, really. Who are budding plant enthusiasts supposed to get reliable growing information from if not their local nursery?