Novelty plants

Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)April 24, 2014

Without any disrespect for other peoples' opinions, let's talk novelty plants. Make no mistake, I'm not degrading any of these plants, or anyone who would enjoy one. If they didn't appeal to someone (and generate a profit,) they wouldn't be out there, these are just my opinions. I'm sure I have many plants that would be unappealing to others.

There's a lot of them out there, over the years. Whether you love one or hate it, I'm sure you've noticed some and have an opinion, or maybe a question. What have you seen? How did it make you feel? Stories about rescuing them - or maintaining as they were?

I'm not a fan of these, because I don't think they are destined to live long, have been stunted, downright fugly (I'll let you guess which adjective might go with which, if you want, not the point):

- 'lucky bamboo' in water
- Tillandia glued in a glass sphere or seashell
- painted plants
- glittered plants
- Venus flytrap in lucite box
- faux bonsais (none of the plants at a BBS have ever been or will ever be real bonsais - as sold. There may be a specimen with potential out there occasionally.)
- anything involving a layer of glued rocks
- anything in a pot without a hole in the bottom that's full of water, unless the cache pot is worth the whole price, which is sometimes the case. I always assume the plant is already mortally wounded when 'swimming' like that.
- cacti with glued-on flowers
- cacti with what looks like unnaturally colored sections grafted on top since I don't know what's going on with these at all, or what they're supposed to 'do.'

One good novelty I've seen over the years is the Ti logs in a bag. But those have not been around for many years. I'd like to see those make a come-back.

✌☮√☻☺♥ Smile! ♥☺☻√☮✌

Another area of novelty is seasonal plants. In my own mind, I differentiate them as 'real house plants,' 'should be outside,' and 'sheer novelties.'

These I would consider real house plants: holiday cacti, Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, some of the 'scented' geraniums (Pelargoniums,) including 'mosquito plant.'

I wouldn't get if I didn't have somewhere (climate-suitable) outside to plant them: shamrocks, Easter lilies and other in-bloom potted bulbs, boxed Amaryllis.

I don't even agree with myself on some of this. Apparently if it's intended to be planted outside (in a nursery pot and displayed with the annuals,) it's OK to purchase as temporary, but if it's not hardy and in a more upscale pot as a novelty house plant, and I know I can't keep it alive in the house, it's not OK. What is that? IDK. I'm just weird I guess, but I'm not the only one with this particular quirk.

Sheer novelties: hanging baskets of Fuchsia that apparently have been told "you're for Mother's Day" so therefore see no reason to keep living for long afterward, along with Norfolk island pines. Cute little mini roses of mystery hardiness which should be outside, and farther south if not hardy - but no way to tell.

(Yes, I know there's someone out there for each of these plants that's had them *forever.* These are my opinions about what would happen at *my* house. Not saying that anybody should or should not buy any of the plants mentioned, for any of the reasons mentioned yet or not. And let's hear those 'forever' stories!)

✌☮√☻☺♥ Smile! ♥☺☻√☮✌

What about plants that could be novelties or seasonal, but aren't? Kalanchoe (diagremontiana, x houghtonii, delagoensis) seems to be a plant everyone who lives too far north for it to be hardy wants. As fast as mine can produce babies, people want them in trade. Sure, if it gets outside and hardy where you are, it'll try to take over the world, but so will asparagus fern, spider plant, Tradescantia, and SO many other plants that are commonly found in pots, and they still have plenty of pots of those available for sale.

Pothos in water. Everyone does it at home, these would definitely sell.

Moss. So many people want moss. 'Irish' is about the only option occasionally available. I often use the presence of moss to decide on a potted plant if there are multiple specimens available.

Tiny lawn flowers. With the explosion in mini gardening the past couple years, it's become fairly common to find tiny plants, but they are mostly traditional succulents. Some of the coolest tiny plants are right in the lawn, though many of them are probably too ephemeral for a permanent display. Many of the displays I've seen are definitely not going to live long anyway.

Little crape myrtles which bloom so reliably on new wood. Seems like those up north would scoop up pots of these as readily as so many other non hardy plants to be enjoyed temporarily, like a 'last flowers of the year' kind of thing. Never had any trouble finding a Mandevilla vine to buy in OH - but that would be in the spring.

✌☮√☻☺♥ Smile! ♥☺☻√☮✌

One thing that can't be denied about novelty plants is that they do keep a display more lively and active as they shift the selection. Even if I'm scoffing at "what's over there this time," I'm interested and looking.

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teengardener1888(NY Albany 5a)

I rather hate glued rocks and glued flowers. I also think that tisslandias sold out of those domes are cheaper and healthier. Also add decorative pot covers to the lits. they are especially dangerous to new gardeners who dont check drainage, and they shade and kill bottom leaves and shade pest...I will agree that lucky bamboo(Dracaena sanderiana) does not live overly long in water, but I still like and buy them, and I do eventually put them in soil. I can see why some people dont like these though

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 1:16PM
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What an interesting topic. I've seen everything you've mentioned and wanted to give a stern talking to whoever thought it was a "great" idea.

I probably shouldn't admit this, but I attempt to remove those glued flowers from the tops of the cacti before purchase; I want to be sure it'll come off before I waste my money. Some don't always come off without a part of the cactus attached (well in the end, it's not my fault, it shouldn't be glued on anyway!).

I remember how disappointed my Mom was when she brought me home a cactus one day, only for me to point out the "flowers" were fake. I think people are disappointed once they realize those "flowers" are indeed fake.

What irks me more than a plant that's floating in a cache pot is the fact that most of the employees never dump the excess water out.

To answer your question about those grafted cacti ("what they're supposed to 'do.'"), the colored part is man-made and contains no chlorophyll, hence being grafted to a cactus that contains chlorophyll. But let's get to the nitty gritty, they only last a bout 2-3 years at which point the colored part usually dies. They have the potential to bloom (it's a small purple flower), but it's so rare, it's not worth the money to stare at a plant that does nothing for 2-3 years and dies.

I do have a normal "zonal" Geranium, which I plan to treat as a houseplant this year, whack next Spring, and stick back outside. We'll see how well it does. It's known as a tropical annual (it'd survive permanently outside if in a warmer zone, say areas of Florida where it doesn't freeze). That being said, this is more for an outdoor forum than a houseplant forum, but I don't like annuals, I think they're a waste of money.

But yeah... those Fuchsias, my MIL always buys one only for it to die. Either that or an Easter Lily, you name it, she's bought it (probably more than onec)... Oh, or Boston Ferns! Every year she spends about $50 on Boston Ferns only for them to die when it gets too cold. Sometimes I want to shake her lol. She told me just the other day she wants to buy some basket Geraniums, they're like $10 a piece. She never overwinters them, so they also die. She wants four of them... Sometimes, I wonder if she's made of money. ;)

I hope this doesn't sound like a rant, hehe.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 1:57PM
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My 18 year old "novelty plant" AKA Lucky bamboo had it's last makeover that included a tie wrape removed and then put inside a flower vase 17.75 years ago .

Just because something can be done mean everyone can do it

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 2:57PM
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Don't forget the Pitcher plant. All the kids I've seen who run up to these plants (as well as Venus flytrap) are soon disappointed by their parents who say, 'No! We can't have that they die too quickly!' Or, 'We don't have any bugs to feed them!'. My favourite is always, 'How big do these get?'. I tell them that this is as big as a Venus' Flytrap will be. Then they challenge me. They aren't aware of the fact these plants originate in North/South Carolina and assume they are grown in the deepest jungles of Africa or Asia, maybe even South America.

I will now tell you why BBS sell these plants. They are colourful, they are cheep, and they are quick sellers. Most of these stores don't have greenhouses and just stick them up by the cash or where there is most customer traffic. When I order plants for my store I try and stay away from these 'novelty plants' however when there isn't much to order from I will request some of these glued on flower cacti or painted plants. It gives the greenhouse a colourful flare and in the long run does absolutely no damage to the plant. I've ordered blue orchids simply because we had nothing else on the wish list that week that we needed. I will absolutely tell people that these plants have been 'modified'. But most of the time the people who do buy these plants don't know what they are doing and that's what the horticultural industry takes advantage of, in my opinion. I always tell people, 'when you get this home TAKE THE FOIL OFF THE POT!'. Nothing makes me more upset when a customer tries to return a water logged plant still sitting in a foil cover or the total opposite and they are clueless as to why the plant is dead. It seems to me like common sense is gone, although because I know about plants and others don't, common sense is relative.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 4:47PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

My favorite plant to hate are those painted poinsettias. They were a real hit a few years ago, with purple being the most popular. Because floral spray paint is so realistic looking, gullable consumers were convinced that they were a 'new' variety. We had several inquiries in here about them.

Same with green or blue or purple carnations.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 4:51PM
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Yeah, phal orchids airbrushed blue.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 7:17PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

My next door neighbor is a manager at a local HD and I asked about the "painted "flowers particularly orchids . They placed them inside the store near the registers . They had blue ,orange, and green . They completely sold out . Marketing is everything?? lol. After all there is an entire "cut flower " industry ?? Actually much cheaper than a florist??. To each his own?? gary

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 4:01AM
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When I got married last year, my colors were purple and blue, so A LOT of people encouraged me to use those dendrobium orchids dyed purple and blue that have become popular in recent years. I think many of them didn't realize the flowers were dyed and that true blue flowers are quite rare in nature.
(I chose to go with hydrangeas for the blue instead!)

I have seen photos of those cacti that have been painted with colorful paint actually growing enough to break through the paint layer.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 9:43AM
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paul_(z5 MI)

My biggest beef with most of the novelty plants, is the dishonesty on the part of the sellers.

As has been mentioned, many people do not realize the flowers often found on store bought cacti are fake more often than not. (Though one would think they would notice the large blob of glue holding the flower on.) While one can argue that technically the flowers aren't fake -- they are real flowers after all ... that of Xerochrysum bracteatum (strawflower) -- just not actual cacti flowers, it is dishonest not to mention that on the plant's tag/label.

The same is true of the blue or purple dyed orchids (the dye is injected into the stem of the flower spike or plant), or those orchids and cacti/succulents which are painted.

Btw, Plantomaniac, the red or yellow ball cactus Gymnocalycium mihanovichii are not manmade. Rather they are mutations. In nature, seedlings with such a mutation quickly die since, as you mentioned, they cannot produce chlorophyll and as such cannot produce enough food for survival. They are grafted onto a stock plant that is green and can produce food for them. The big long term issue leading to the death of the grafted Gyms is that the stock plant eventually grows large enough to break the Gym's connections to the stock. At which point, the Gym no longer has access to food or water. If one wishes, one can periodically regraft the Gym to the stock plant and thus keep the Gym going.

While I wouldn't want to own one of these "doctored" plants, I know there are plenty of folks out there who want a plant that color coordinates with their décor. Such folks tend to look at plants as disposable décor cheaper than buying cut flowers and not as fake looking as most faux plants. If vendors would "come clean" and "fess up" as to what has been done to the plant, then so be it. At least people buying said plants would be informed that the alterations made to the plant are temporary. But the reality is there are a tremendous number of non-plant savvy folks who have absolutely no clue that the plant(s) have been painted or dyed and that this is temporary state. There is then the inevitable disappointment -- for those people who thought they found a nifty plant to bring home -- when the plant either dies, reblooms its normal color, the paint cracks and flakes off, or someone more knowledgeable breaks the news to them.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 1:22PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

I'm w/ Paul on this, what I HATE MOST is the deception.

The one that galls me no end is the Valentine's Day Ripoff of a single Heart Shaped Hoya Leaf they sell for quite a bit misleading folks into thinking this'll grow into a new plant. It won't ever.

I dissuaded my local Supermarket from participating in this practice at least 5 yrs. ago, mentioning to them that I (as a regular & known customer) would be mighty peeved to pay $12 for a single leaf which will NEVER grow into a plant. They haven't bought them since.

I also despise the turquoise Phal Orchids even tho' my most favorite color is turquoise or aqua. Such a horrid & unnatural look.

The painted succulents which showed up on here in pix last year are also pretty ghastly, fortunately I don't see them often.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 2:15PM
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I read about the colored Gymnocalycium mihanovichii being "man made" somewhere, but it was so long ago I couldn't tell you where I read that. Thanks for the correction.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 4:35PM
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one plant novalties seem to catch a certain crowd and attention but what about the over priced multi pre- planted mix match meldings novely of fairy gardens

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 8:31PM
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This is a very interesting thread. I have to admit I did learn some things I never knew from this thread. I recently came across a gold (and a few other neon colored) cactus at a local chain store and never knew they did that. It clearly looked painted and I wondered how they could survive like that but I guess they do. I'm a novice house plant person but I do ok, and I love reading this site for more info. Thanks so much for the info!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 9:15PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Plantomaniac, perhaps the "manmade" terminology was referencing the fact that the plant has been grafted? I know I have run into more than just a few folks who did not realize they were actually two different plants grafted together (as surprising as that might seem). Then too, there is no doubt that if it weren't for human intervention, the mutant form of the Gyms would not be around at all. The fact that they can be prolific puppers makes keeping desired strains going quite easy.

"what about the over priced multi pre- planted mix match meldings novely of fairy gardens"

Honestly, I don't see that as any different than any of the other mixed plantings which have been on the market for decades or more. Plants are as often as not chosen strictly for their looks in the planting without regards for their actual cultural needs. Only difference now is going for the mini scene look.

Sav, it is not uncommon for the painted cacti/succulents to die from such treatments. Some, if they are fortunate enough to survive long enough to shed the paint job, might make it. But more likely will be that they will still die either because:
1) the owner has no clue how to take care of the plant; or
2) (and this I believe to be the far more likely scenario) the owner will pitch the plant now that it no longer is "pretty" as it was when they bought it.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 11:20AM
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Seriously...this is supposed to look real?

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 1:43PM
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Hmm... perhaps you're right, I don't remember how it was worded anymore. I do misread things sometimes. :)

Sure, a blue orchid looks natural. *rolls eyes* (not at you) The flower stems are injected with blue dye and the flowers absorb the color.

I sense an ongoing theme with these colored orchid, painted cacti and succulents, etc. The usual people who buy them are people that don't know how to take care of them anyway (or know little about plants). I know after talking to a cashier at HD about their painted cacti (she bought a bunch of them and didn't know they were painted), she mentioned she still had them sitting in her dark garage (this was a couple weeks ago). She mentioned they were her first cacti and in some ways, I'm surprised being her first, she didn't research how to care for them or anything.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 2:54PM
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Some people just buy on impulse.

In this case they stared her down at work til she bought them. lol

Funny thing about the blue phals,though(just so ya know)I actually asked a florist at a grocery store outlet if that was the way they did it and she said they'd been painted with dyes via airbrush.

I DO remember back in grade school somebody did a science fair type thing and white flowers would pick up food coloring or something like that,..but either way,I just rather have a phal look like a phal. :)

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 4:07PM
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Okay, you got me there. I know I've bought on impulse myself (not anything dyed or painted though lol), but I go home and research its care if it's something I'm not familiar with.

Dyed by injection or airbrushed, as you stated, either way I like natural myself.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 4:15PM
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Does this count as novelty? A friend bought this sad little one for me. The poor thing is dressed like the Easter Bunny and covered in glitter. And its also not doing well, hopefully it will be warm enough to get it outside and give it a chance.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 6:25PM
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I'm pretty sure that counts. I saw these at WM the other day... and last Easter for that matter. I hope yours makes it.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 9:54PM
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dellis326 (Danny)

I remember seeing at HD a rack of cacti that had been given the "Mr. Potatohead" treatment with eyes and noses and other things (hats, lips, ears, etc.) glued to them.

Clearly aimed at kids. Hopefully a few of them were inspired to take a greater interest in plants and nature.

This post was edited by dellis326 on Mon, Apr 28, 14 at 8:29

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 8:51AM
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I've never seen the "Mr. Potato" cacti, that's just sad.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 9:52AM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Amusing in a way, Sav. Looks like a mum. If so, then it might be able to pull through if it gets outside in time.

I have heard of both airbrush painting and dye injection being used as coloring methods on the phals. Easy way to tell is to inspect the flower spike. If injected there will be a noticeable dye injection site -- usually near the base of the spike. The dye used is some sort of silver-based compound.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 12:20PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Wow, people DO have stuff to say about novelty plants. Interesting inputs!

What about Bromeliads sold in flower in the house plant section with no pups? I find the level of deception with these - in conjunction with the price - the most sad and obvious rip-off out there.

I have similar feelings about Tillandsias (which I typo'd above, sorry) 'done' the same way, put in a pot of soil when starting to bloom, also usually without pups.

AFAIK, both of these are definitely not going to be permanent because they will definitely shrivel after the flower is finished, regardless of care, though put amongst the house plants instead of where they would be more recognized as novelties/definitely temporary.

Has anyone kept a sensitive plant alive for an extended time?

Has anyone seen any 'keychain plants' in person? Tiny succulents in lucite boxes? What in the world to say about that?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 10:26AM
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Swiping the pups is savage!
Might as well be a "cut flower". =/

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 10:51AM
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I've bought seeds for sensitive plants (a local nursery by me always have them in stock) and my daughter loves them and they get quite big and can live for quite a few months, like spring through summer. The only one time I have seen them for sale as grown in pots, they looked very unhealthy and was on their last legs. But for $1.69, I can buy a pack of about 20 seeds. And they get very cute pink puffy flowers.

I'm also turned off by most of these novelty plants. Mother nature has a very naturally weird plants that are fun, I don't need to go buy ones that are fake and will die very fast. I've taught a few people about these fakes for sale that they too wont buy them now that they know about them, like dyes and fake flowers on cacti. I also really dislike those lucky bamboos, I don't even give them a 2nd look.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 2:22PM
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teengardener1888(NY Albany 5a)

I defend lucky bamboo, they are pretty, and can last for years, and if you want(and the plant preferrs this) sinply plant it in soil, and they take off(unless they sit in water for years)

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 2:58PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

IME, many of the broms pup after blooming is well underway. I have obtained broms -- both Tillandsia and Vriesea off death row at Lowes and they pupped after blooming was pretty much done.

I've heard of the keychain plants but have yet to actually see one in person.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 3:11PM
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I am going to voice defense for these artificial plant creations. It is based on a simple reality that people who hang out here are very UNlike most plant shoppers out there who look at plants as way more disposable things than we do. I am gonna venture an unsubstantiated guess that a completely natural cactus or succulent in a non-GW-reader's home is gonna last on average as long as a grafted one will, which is to say not long (but long enough in their view to "work off" its cost). So then if people have a preference for a certain look, and the free market is of course happy to supply it - who are we to judge? Nobody objects to a painting of a dahlia hanging on the wall, do they? Yes, the dahlia is completely dead and the grafted cactus is merely on a path to dying - but come on, what chance does a mutated no-chlorophyll plant has in nature? Zero. So you can claim then that the frankenstein plant industry is creating life, not destroying it.

And yes, I agree some of these do not look pretty at all (dyed Phalaenopsis are my pet peeves), and some others remind me more of death than of life (hoya kerrii leaves that will never grow into plants), and some others are just kitschy tchotchkes (kerrii leaves with love messages written on them) - but note that all of these are subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and many millions of dollars strongly disagree with you and me here.

Deception and creating false expectations is a big problem. A dyed Phal will reflower white (if it is ever going to reflower). But it's not an argument against frankenstein plants - it's just an argument for clear labels.

> What about Bromeliads sold in flower in the house plant section with no pups? I find the level of deception with these - in conjunction with the price - the most sad and obvious rip-off out there.

This one does not belong. I bought two very different Bromeliads in bud for my indoor only space, they flowered beautifully and for a long time (one 6 weeks, the other 5 months), then they both pupped. The moms will both die after flowering, but that is exactly how it happens in nature as well, and even then, the process of decline lasts many many months and even up to a couple of years, even indoors. I've been picking a dried leaf at the bottom here and there (rarely), but the plant looks almost as amazing as it looked the day I bought it.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 11:58AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Excellent additions and info, thanks to each! I appreciate very much learning more about the Broms. It's possible some of the UNsuccess stories I've read are related to root rot, not deception.

Greentoe, well said, thank you. There are 2 (or more) sides to the argument of each one. I think this discussion of things that can ignite some strong passions is going well and civilized. Obviously there are some varied opinions, I enjoy them all, and the opportunity to see some of the other side of some of the ones I've disparaged in my opinions.

I'm sure there are many instances where a novelty plant inspired folks to get 'more into' plants. Wondering what went wrong/right is a gateway, among many other possible experiences. Gotta love 'em for that as well.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 1:00PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Where do you get the imagination to come up with ideas for threads like this? ;-)


    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 10:37PM
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Photo Synthesis

I find myself agreeing with just about every opinion in this thread. These novelty plants are atrocious, however people continue to buy in to them. As an avid grower and lover of orchids, I particularly hate these artificially dyed Phals. The company that started doing this has received quite a bit of backlash from people that wasted their $$ on them. So now they've added fine print on the back of their plant tags mentioning that they will rebloom as white, or whichever natural color they originally were. Yet, they still continue to sell these ordinary Phals at jacked up prices. Whenever I see people eyeing them in the stores, I go out of my way to tell them what they would actually be spending their $$ on. When I first came across one, I could tell that it was a real orchid, but I knew something wasn't right about them. My 1st thought was, "That can't be its true color..." As others have pointed out, blue is a rare color in flowers, especially orchids. I was very tempted to buy it, but my gut feeling was warning me not to. So I went home and researched it online. I was glad I did, because they wanted $30-$40 for this "blue" phalaenopsis. What a ripoff!

I do the same for those cacti with the dyed flower hot glued onto them. I've [carefully] pulled off the flowers to show people that they're not the cacti's natural flower. Those grafted orange/red cacti speak for themselves, as well as those spray painted cacti/succulents. The paint always flakes off of them, from either the plants growing or being watered.

However, I do buy those "easter" lilies, but only the day afterwards, when they get shoved to the clearance shelf. Cared for properly, they'll bloom year after year, but during their natural blooming schedule, which occurs nowhere near easter. Those, and Oriental hybrid lilies are some of my favorites. They fill my backyard with their lovely fragrance and attract lots of butterflies.
I do the same for amaryllis bulbs during christmas, but only if it's one that catches my eye and don't already have.

As for carnivorous plants, usually sold in "death cubes" at places like Lowes, they can easily live for many years. They just need to be properly cared for, which most consumers don't bother learning how to. I always frequent my local garden centers, so I can obtain these plants soon after their arrival. Before these retailers have had a chance to neglect them. My pitcher plants are all blooming at the moment, and my Venus' flytraps are just about to bloom as well.

I've never had any problems with bromeliads either. They only bloom once during their life cycle, before sending out pups. The problem with most of these, though, is the fact that nurseries force them into bloom long before they've had a chance to reach their full grown, mature size.

I've come across these novelty keychains on eBay that were a little glass vial with a tiny orchid seedling growing in it. I was tempted to buy one, because they're fairly cheap. But the chances of just one stressed out orchid seedling actually reaching maturity and blooming is highly unlikely. You're most likely just throwing your $$ away. However, I've thought about getting one, but merely for the challenge of getting it to adulthood. I haven't yet decided tho.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 2:08AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Al, when desperately trying to justify taking a break from packing (to move last week) a couple weeks ago... and wondering what might be coming next, after the Easter lilies and E cacti. It seems like novelties are taking up more and more real estate in stores.

Also, I had some confusions and curiosity about some that I've never bought, though I've succumbed to most of the ones mentioned here at one time or another. They're out there, and definitely get people's attention one way or the other, so we might as well understand them more, lift the veil of secrecy so to speak. Hopefully more info can help people avoid the definitely inappropriate ones, try them in a different way, get the most out of those that have a chance, in regard to the conditions each person has available to offer.

All of the novelties seen to have a pall of desperation attached to them that is the most intriguing thing about them to me. As I anticipated, examining some of the psychology surrounding them is fascinating. Especially the divide of those who dislike some plants because they are so unlikely to provide longevity of enjoyment. AFAIK, there's not a contingent of folks upset about annual bedding plants intended for seasonal enjoyment that would be long-lived perennials in a different climate. It's something I don't fully understand can't (or just haven't yet) reconciled within my own psyche.

Tommy, interesting contributions, TY. If you feel like sharing a pic of those pitcher plants, I'd love to see them! What is their proper name? Don't think I've seen these in person, or don't remember if I did sometime in the past. I'm under the impression they're more commonly found out west?

Those keychain plants really make me curious, and I see these as extremely desperate in some way. What happens when you move your keys around? Or, "toss me your keys" ?? The idea that carrying around a tiny plant would make some people happy is very intriguing. It also makes me wonder how many people just don't have space for 'regular' plants, and that makes me feel very grateful for what I have.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 9:48AM
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teengardener1888(NY Albany 5a)

Fake color phals tick me off! I dont think venus flytraps make good houseplants, especially in "death boxes". My biggest pet-peeve are glued cacti flower! its not good for the plant but often its the only way for me to buy a special variety. Colored gynmocalciums, i dont think are that bad. its real color, and they keep for at least a year, but for gardeners who like long-lived plants, i dont reccomend these "ghost cacti" nor would i spend money to buy them. I also hate dyed pointsettias, blue and purple- seriously! They are holiday plants and the traditional colors are red(and maybe white, and i like the speckled and variegated varieties) but ultimately, pointsettias where made to be red. I hate glued rocks, especially ombined with no drainage containers, like what coral cacti are often found in. I believe people spend too much on money on the beautiful "easter lily" its cheaper to buy bulbs of prettier varieties and plant them out then to buy the exspensive easter lily and hope they survive(I believe they are marginally hardy here, they dont always survive!) Not a fan of mini roses for a similar reason, you cant tell how hardy they are! Some people here can have them live but not always. Im not a fan of "indoor hydrangeas". Clivias are gorgeous in bloom, and they have nice foliage, but I believe they take up too much room and dont give bang for your buck, butr i like armaryllis because they go dormant when i bring plants inside when i need space the most. Hoya kerri leaves, make me wanna puke! Things that i think people overreact on are lucky bamboo and green carnations, green carnations because of saint pattys day, a significant holiday here in albany. Yes there are naurally green flowers(Bells-of-Ireland,envy Zinnia) But i think green carnations are more appropiate. Also, shamrock(assuming oxalis) make great yearound house plants. Some of this i stated in previous post but just trying to put i alll together:)

This post was edited by teengardener1888 on Thu, May 1, 14 at 11:00

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 10:56AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I get all that part - I was just wondering from where you draw inspiration. I could never come up with the diversity (of ideas) you do. I can prolly count on my fingers the threads that aren't directly related to plant care that I've posted over the years, and I'd probably find at least a half dozen conversational threads by you on the first 2 pages of this forum alone. I didn't look, but you always come up with something interesting to talk about - which provides a gathering place for the folks who especially like to socialize.

Strong work!


    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 1:54PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Tiff, pitcher plants can refer to one of five genera:
Nepenthes (Asia)
Sarracenia (North America)
Darlingtonia (North America)
Heliamphora (South America)
Cephalotus (Australia)

In a BBS, you may occasionally Neps or Sarrs (with sarrs being the most common, IME). Once in a blue moon you might stumble upon a Darlingtonia. You will never see the last two in a BBS.

The cps in Death Cubes can indeed live for many years -- but only if you take them out of the blasted cubes. I don't mind seeing the plants sold in the cubes but do find it irresponsible on the sellers part not to inform people that they cannot be grown for any real length of time in the cubes. Most cps require fairly strong light -- even up to full sun. Something that cannot be accomplished in a cube without cooking the plant. Furthermore the humid, stagnant envir. of the cube is a recipe for bacteria or fungal infection. In addition, the cubes provide inadequate room for growth. As a final "nail in the coffin", several cps -- such as vfts and many of the sarrs, -- require a cool to cold winter dormancy to remain healthy ... something which is usually not mentioned.

As far as broms go, Tiff, root rot or -- more to the point -- simply rot can be an issue. This is particularly the case as most of the broms I see sold in the BBSs are EPIPHYTES and should not be in any sort of soil to begin with. Roots, such as they are for many broms, serve little real purpose with regards to water uptake. Instead their primary function is simply to anchor the plant to whatever tree or rock it is growing on. Water absorption and nutrient uptake instead takes place in the leaf axils. Because of this, when watering, water should be poured into the central "cup" if is is a brom that has such or in the leaf axils -- not the media. Now there are of course exceptions. Cryptanthus are terrestrial members of the brom family as are pineapples. Their roots are made for water uptake and should be watered like "normal" plants.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 10:19PM
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How about the amaryllis that are sold with a glass ball to keep them in and their basal plates are cut off? Talk about a cut flower! Or the echeveria that looked as if it had been dipped in pottery slip or the world's thickest tempera paint? They looked like a mistake and weren't even attractive! Dull maroon-really? I did come home after seeing those and looked up painting succulents and found some where at least you could still see the form of the plant so they still were somewhat attractive if not natural looking. These I saw in the store looked as if they were made by someone who also tortures cats.

I bought a "Norfolk Island Pine"(which it turns out aren't really NIP but are Cook Pines) a couple of years ago at Christmas and it was the poorest thing. It was in a four inch pot and in my wisdom I decided to separate the plants that were in the pot as I didn't think they would make it otherwise. There were it turns out about seven seedlings in the pot! On top of this, they must have looked too tall when they potted them up so they had just doubled them over into a loop and covered the whole thing with potting mixture! I straightened them out and gave them their own pots and planted them at the proper depth in decent soil, but only one of the seedlings survived (the smallest one). I think it didn't have to be looped. It is doing okay and is a foot and a half tall.

I am pretty grumpy about a lot of things in the plant trade, and maybe this is OT, but I really don't like whatever is the chemical that they put on plants to dwarf them up. (So they don't have to tie the stems into a knot to keep them small I guess) Every single pelargonium that I bought in recent years never really grew til I took a cutting and rooted it. I bought a crown of thorns that never grew at all for four years, I thought I was killing it. You can't trust how a perennial at the store looks and how it will eventually look after it gets over all the chemicals it has been subjected too. I also don't like how you can only buy what are the newest cultivars, and very good but older cultivars are nowhere to be found.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 2:50PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Glad you find these things interesting too, Al! Just stuff about which I wonder sometimes... Part of me would like to see folks continue to have deep, complete thoughts too, expressed in complete sentences, not just blubs and badly misspelled tweets and FB entries from phones.

TY, Paul! Could one settle a Brom at the top of a support that vines are growing on? In the crook of a Dracaena trees' trunks? I'm somewhat familiar with doing this with Tillandsias, but have seen pics of Broms growing 'in' the ground in FL, so thought they did need some kind of 'pot'o'dirt.'

I think it's been great fun, and very informative, to open the closet of secrets about these plants. Those reading can more accurately decide if/which of these are something they would enjoy if purchased. I'm starting to want to watch a Brom make pups, if I ever see one that's not red, orange or yellow. Do they come in purple or pink?

If anyone knows why Kalanchoe blossfeldiana plants bought in bloom usually have giant leaves, yet I've never seen leaves like that in someone's long-term plant, I'd love to read it. I don't care what size leaves my plants choose to make, no interest in attempting that kind of manipulation, but daggone curious how/why those plants have such giant leaves.

Aseed, interesting point about cultivars being possible novelties. I prefer a sturdy species plant usually too. When I get flowering plants, it's for their value as a nectar source for hummers and butterflies usually, so no fancy breeding is needed. Another one is roses. Give me one from Grandma's garden with only 10 petals that smells great and I'm happy!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 12:59PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

•Posted by purpleinopp
Could one settle a Brom at the top of a support that vines are growing on? In the crook of a Dracaena trees' trunks?

The short answer is "yes" though it depends upon the brom/tillie chosen as well as the conditions provided. Some members of the Bromeliad Family desire full sun, others part shade conditions -- though most seem to want it at least bright shade. (Hardly surprising as most are epiphytes and one of the major motivators for growing as such is to get to were the light is brighter.) Some desire daily watering (or in the case of many of the tillies, just a good heavy misting) if conditions are dry. Watered less often if grown in a humid environment. So as with any plant, choosing one that will do well under your particular growing conditions is the key.

•Posted by purpleinopp
I'm starting to want to watch a Brom make pups, if I ever see one that's not red, orange or yellow. Do they come in purple or pink?

I assume you mean the bract from which the flowers emerge not the main plant body, correct? If so, then yes. Not uncommon at all.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 5:21PM
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Photo Synthesis

Here's some pix of my pitcher plants & flytraps. Sorry that I didn't post them much sooner, Purp, but I was waiting for the first bloom to open up. These plants have interesting flowers. The scientific name for these pitchers is Sarracenia purpurea. I bought one of those "death cubes" from Lowes. It had the the smaller, more reddish pitcher plant inside it. I went to repot it and noticed that there were two rhizomes. The second one didn't have any pitchers on it, so I figured that perhaps the rhizome had split into two. I potted it up separately in its own pot. It ended up growing bigger pitchers than the first one. The flower on it is bigger too, but not as tall as the other one. I look forward to cross pollinating them. :)

As for the flytraps, I grow several of them altogether in a community pot. You can't see the flower spikes on them just yet, but they're coming up. I'm going to have to repot all of them into larger pots soon.

This post was edited by ToMMyBoY69 on Mon, May 5, 14 at 19:18

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 7:11PM
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Photo Synthesis

A closeup of the flower. The inner yellow stigma resembles an upsidedown umbrella, with five red petals overlapping it. The pollen falls onto the inside of the yellow stigma, and when a bug walks over it, it sticks to them. As the bug leaves, it brushes up against one of the five pointed tips, pollinating the flower in the process.

This post was edited by ToMMyBoY69 on Tue, May 6, 14 at 2:17

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 7:23PM
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Wow, Tommy, those look amazing.

> The problem with most of these [Bromeliads], though, is the fact that nurseries force them into bloom long before they've had a chance to reach their full grown, mature size.

What does this mean, Tommy? Both my big-box-bought Broms created pups after flowering, so they were apparently mature enough for that. We can't blame commercial nurseries for creating the right cultural conditions for plants to flower and otherwise reach sellable/showable/photographable condition sooner rather than later. Isn't that exactly what we hobby growers also strive to do?

As for literally the "size" - I do not think that it's a goal for many consumers necessarily. That is why a lot of miniature varieties of plants exist and are very commercially successful. Bromeliads can get huge indeed, depending on the species/cultivar - but then much of the market is excluded from even considering them for purchase, so the growers' incentives are clear.

> Cryptanthus are terrestrial members of the brom family as are pineapples. Their roots are made for water uptake and should be watered like "normal" plants.

Paul, many broms including epiphytes, can adapt to also take water in through their roots in addition to taking it through the reservoir, if the roots feel any moisture. Neoregelias and Aechmeas (which are the only two I grow) both can do that, I think. I've left both in the original medium, and they are doing fine. My Aechmea doesn't even have much of a cup, so barely any water stays there and it all drains into the mix.

Bromeliads are fascinating, I think - unlike any other house plants. I am still learning a lot about them.

> Aseed, interesting point about cultivars being possible novelties. I prefer a sturdy species plant usually too.

Oh boy, many orchid growers would have a lot to say about that - on both ends of the spectrum. There are species growers who want things as they are in nature and want a challenge. They also do an absolutely indispensable work of preserving many endangered species. But the fact that even they do not dispute is that many orchid hybrids have become so much easier over the many years people have been hybridizing them. Hybrids often bloom larger, brighter, easier, longer and more often - often all of the above in the same hybrid, compared with their ancestor species. Temperature preferences are often wider than for either of the parent species or hybrids. Culture is often consistent or nearly-consistent throughout the year - rather than the cold period and the wet period and the dormant period and the tambourine dancing period that species often have to have. Imagine growing even just a few species with divergent periods like that in a typical house or a greenhouse or outdoors - wherever you grow. I can't personally, unless I am growing ONE group of plants with similar requirements (I'd lose interest in three milliseconds). So that is where the hybrids may come in. With orchids, hybridizers often grow thousands of seedlings for years, they get many of them to flower, then they select one or two for many of the characteristics desirable to growers and consumers, DISCARD all the rest and clone the hell out of the best of the best of the best of the best - we are talking football field sized greenhouses growing 100% genetically identical orchids. That is what ends up in your local big box store, and I would not knock it at all, resiliency- and looks-wise, considering the crazy selection those plants went through.

I do not know much about cultivating other species, but I am sure with any cultivars, they do not do it to be difficult, in fact they breed what can be sold - in other words what you and I would buy. So, what's the problem again?

Here's another example of this sort of "artificial selection": what's called "Christmas Cactus". In the good old days, your grandma probably grew Schlumbergera bridgesii. But their natural flowering period was a bit off to be sold for the holidays, and their growing habit is to grow out the pot and down right away. That was difficult for growers (need to force the blooms), difficult for shippers (lots of snapped-off segments in transit) and difficult for buyers (the look is not for everybody). Then they noticed that a similar looking Schlumbergera truncata grows more upright (easier to transport, less damage in stores, and a more traditional potted plant look), is a more resilient species and flowers more naturally when they need to be sold. So they hybridized that one instead, and now it is impossible to find the old-fashioned "true" Christmas cactus commercially, except for through word of mouth exchanges - probably from a few grandmas that still grow it. But S. truncata is truly a stronger species.

I actually grow the "vintage" one and have no interest in getting the one wider available - but I am not like the mass market, and probably neither are most of you reading this.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 10:13PM
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Photo Synthesis

--Double Post--

I went in to edit and GW saved both copies, *UgH!* :/
^Edited copy above...^

This post was edited by ToMMyBoY69 on Thu, May 8, 14 at 13:40

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 11:50PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Don't know if anyone else had this problem, but I kept getting an "ERROR: Thread no longer exists" message when I tried posting yesterday. Contacted the GW webmaster(s) and apparently they fixed whatever the problem was. And to return to our regularly scheduled thread ...


And yet, Tommy, there are folks who are quite successful using the "just add ice" method (though personally the thought of doing so makes me cringe). I have run into several folks -- including some customers I run into when I work orchid shows -- who tell me that their plant(s) have done well and even have rebloomed. I consider this more a testimony to the durability of orchids than evidence supporting JAI as a "good" practice. I do make a point with said folks of mentioning that, while I am genuinely happy it has worked well for them, it is not a method I'd ever recommend. When they give me a quizzical look, I tell them: "Think how you would feel if I stuck your feet in an icewater bath. The plants like it no more than you would." The practical advantage to JAI, is that it reduces the likelihood of overwatering.

•Posted by greentoe357 7b NYC
There are species growers who want things as they are in nature and want a challenge. They also do an absolutely indispensable work of preserving many endangered species. ....

There is another point of importance to many species growers -- one that far outweighs the "challenge" aspect, at least with any of the ones I know (myself included). Species have their own unique looks. Most of the hybrid orchids one commonly finds lack this. Many hybrids, in fact, have numerous lookalikes out there.

This latter part leads to another possible problem. From what I have seen on orchid forums, it is often a source of frustration for newer growers who are getting a bit more serious into the hobby. The issue is when they have picked up a NoID orchid (often a Phalanopsis, Dendrobium, or Cattleya) and are seeking an ID beyond merely general class or genus. Because there are SO MANY look alike hybrids out there, it is impossible to give them a truly accurate ID. (Even more disappointing for them if they were hoping to enter the plant in a show or for judging.) Species are typically much, much easier to give or obtain a reliable ID.

•Posted by greentoe357 7b NYC
..."many broms including epiphytes, can adapt to also take water in through their roots in addition to taking it through the reservoir"...

While I knew there are some that can, my understanding is that they are not the norm across the Brom. Family. Thanks for chiming in with a few others. I knew there were more than the two groups I mentioned, but those were the ones that came to mind "off the top of my head".

Then there are those -- I think mainly of some members of the Tillandsia genus that do not form roots to begin with. Tillandsia usneoides (aka "Spanish moss") is one very well known such brom.

Still just a 'nubbin' but the reddish-purple bract is on my rootless T. cyanea. Bract should be pink -- I know it was on the mother plant, so I'm assuming this one will "ripen" to pink.

Not a great shot on these Vriesea but the bracts are a deep purple. Not sure why they didn't flatten out more but suspect it may be do to the fact I was gone for a couple weeks and forgot to water them before I left. (The bracts had just started to develop.) Though the bracts have started to flower, there are no pups as of yet. The mother plant died out along time ago but I never bother separating the pups off of her -- took up less space this way. Your welcomed to one if you want.

Other rootless ones

This post was edited by paul_ on Thu, May 8, 14 at 14:17

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 12:56PM
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