Finance Consumer Can you return a new indoor plant you accidentally killed?
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Can you return a new indoor plant you accidentally killed?

Consumer rights indoor plants
Consumer advocacy groups insist Australians can successfully refund dead plants, if they dare. Photo: AAP
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If you have ever owned an indoor plant you understand the challenge of helping it thrive, let alone keeping it alive.

Too much water. Not enough sunlight. A sudden breeze? Green thumbs know the delicate balance, and the losing battle, all too well.

But what rights do you have when your new indoor plant fails to thrive?

According to consumer advocacy group Choice, more than you might expect.

“Businesses aren’t required to offer a refund or exchange for any change-of-mind purchases,” Choice consumer expert Marianna Longmire said.

“This includes indoor plants.

“However, you are entitled to a refund or replacement if the item has a major failure that, had you been aware of, means you would not have purchased the item.”

It comes after a Choice survey into Australia’s booming obsession with indoor plants found nine in 10 respondents who returned a plant in the past were successful in getting a refund.

More than 50 per cent of those reasons for returned plants were because they had died, while 32 per cent took them back because they failed to establish or thrive.

But the same survey also found that only one in 10 respondents had attempted to return a plant, with many saying they were uncomfortable doing so.

Consumer rights indoor plants
Incorrect climate and amounts of sunlight, water and fertiliser are common ways Australians impede on a plant’s longevity, Choice says. Photo: Getty

Choice said participants felt that the responsibility for the plant’s demise rested on them.

But if you have the courage, Choice says larger retailers may accept change-of-mind refunds in addition to their obligations under Australian Consumer Law.

“Some larger retailers, like Bunnings or Flower Power, may accept change-of-mind returns in addition to their obligations under the ACL,” Ms Longmire said.

Killing with kindness: Are your plants getting too much love?

For those unlikely to ask for a return, Ms Longmire noted, “you could be killing your plants with love”.

“Overwatering is one way your beautiful plants can take a turn for the worse without you realising,” she said.

“If you’re not confident in caring for your new plant, before you buy, ask for help selecting the right plant for your growing conditions and get advice on how to care for it properly.”

Besides too much water and inadequate lighting, Ms Longmire says indoor plants might also die as a result of too much fertiliser, incorrect climate and pests.

If your plant has failed to thrive and you are confident it wasn’t your fault, Choice suggests holding on to the plant and contacting the retailer within a reasonable period after the failure becomes apparent.

According to IBISWorld, Australia’s nursery industry is expected to have grown by 3.4 per cent in 2020-21, after Australians spent $2.3 billion on plants the year before.