New trend from potbound to barely-rooted cuttings?

Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)August 28, 2012

The "tinies," the baby plants I've bought the past couple summers, primarily at WM since it's the only nearby choice, have included a lot of barely-rooted cuttings. It's an odd and complete change from the potbound condition in which most new plants, even the tiny ones, were almost always found before. A high percentage of these are EA plants, an organization I truly love for breaking the Pothos/African violet barrier and bringing a much wider range of small, affordable house plants to more stores (which I also love for making the effort even if it turns into a game of trying to see/buy them before they are killed by either drought or drowning.)

Not complaining or having any problems with these plants, and not trying to start a rant about any company or store, happy with what I got. As soon as they get big enough to part with a piece, I'll probably start playing with my own cuttings just like all of the other plants with which it's possible to do that. Just curious about what seems like a new trend. Now I admit not all memories are so clear but I'm pretty sure I've always repotted almost any plant in a pot this small very soon upon bringing it home, and a quite a few of them have been EA plants although I used to live near many more places to shop, lots of huge mom'n'pop garden centers/nurseries. The tiny pots dry out so quickly and it just takes a little puff of wind to knock them over.

Do you think it's just me? Either way, what do you think about buying barely-rooted cuttings? For $3, it's hard to say I haven't gotten my moneys' worth, that's in the neighborhood of what the postage would be if someone gave it to me via mail (I think.) I'd like to hope it's a sign that the demand is so great they just can't wait too long to get 'em out the door or the shelves will be empty, which is often the case at the 2 WMs near enough to visit, but that's about all I have to go on. I'd like to see house plants come back to 70's popularity levels.

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Oh good - another thought-provoking thread with room for abstractions.

On the supply side, it's turnover turnover turnover - maximize production & minimize labor costs per unit - efficiency - get some roots on those babies & move em out so we can make room for the next generation. $$$

I'm sure there are widely variant POVs regarding the small plant starts. Some people want a large plant of greenhouse quality to decorate their homes, plants that look like they've been growing perfectly in the home for years - instantly. Some growers get a rush from bringing a small cutting through the growth phases to a healthy mature plant. Still others need to test their mettle against as wide a variety of plant material as possible. Different strokes.....

My interest in houseplants lies only in determining I can grow that particular plant well. Once I determine that I can, I lose interest and give it away and get another ...... unless it's a tree, makes a nice companion plant for a bonsai, or can be manipulated in an interesting way that makes it unique or unusual.

I enthusiastically enjoy what I take from the growing experience, and one of the ways I've found to increase that enjoyment is to share some of the things I've learned and used to enhance my own experience, with others. It's just as much fun to nurture people who nurture plants as it is to nurture the plants - prolly MORE fun.

Nice thread - I like the way you think.


    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 5:09PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Back in 60s and 70s, in the 'hippie days ', there was a huge increase in the interest of houseplants. At that time, the demand so exceeded the supply that it took years for the industry to catch up.
It was normal to purchase a pot of barely rooted cuttings.

I can't help but wonder if the 'green ' movement of today has triggered the same shortage. I'd like having the choice of purchasing young (small) plants but would not be happy if they were poorly rooted.

There are national standards that growers of containers crops are required to comply with. It doesn't always happen, though. :-(

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 6:14PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Thanks for the inputs/opinions.

"Nice thread - I like the way you think. " Thanks!

Rhizo, I'm torn between being glad there's some kind of rules and wishing "those people" would find something better to do/not wanting to see tax dollars used so frivolously. Or maybe the industry does this internally?

Buying plants is really a "caveat emptor" experience, IMO. It kind of irks me that the "big box" stores give people refunds, AND that people would think they should return a plant. If it's been longer than a week, I don't think it's a good idea for a lot of reasons. Reminds me of the Seinfeld episode about Kramer trying to return fruit. It's a gamble, fruit or plants, even more of one than buying a used car.

Last night it occurred to me to wonder why they don't just try selling some AS cuttings in water. It would be a lot easier for the I-don't-cares who work at these places to 'care' for these. Just set them in the right spot. The only reason I can think of is that nobody's invented the proper vessel to hold them, that would be attractive, hard to spill (and lose much water to evaporation,) but easy to remove the plant for potting.

Do you think macramé and home-made pottery will come back? Did you ever make some clay mushrooms?

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 11:54AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

"...the I-don't-cares who work at these places ..."

Oops, meant to add that this does not describe everyone who works at these stores and I recognize many DO care and that company procedures are often the cause of plants not surviving the experience of being for sale there. Sorry.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 11:58AM
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dellis326 (Danny)

Barely rooted cuttings, a 2 or 3 week turn around. fully rooted and possibly root bound, maybe 6 to 8 weeks. . .
Less costs all around as long as things don't die.

Most of the plants I have I received as cuttings anyways so it doesn't bother me. I may be wrong but I believe a less developed plant allows it to adapt easier to my growing conditions as it grows.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 12:19PM
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I'm so glad i chose to read this forum thread lol...i've noticed the same thing about walmart plants here...again i'm in florala so i'm assuming we are both using the wm in andalusia lol...i've gotten lots of nice plants from there for really good prices...altho seems they don't know how to take care of them...they mostly overwater them or don't water them enough...however i've been lucky to find some good and different treasures there

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 10:40PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Dellis said, "I believe a less developed plant allows it to adapt easier to my growing conditions as it grows." I didn't realize I felt this way, but I do too, now that you've said it. I must say, repotting these took about 2 minutes although I *might* not have bothered quite so soon, despite personal disdain for peat, if I had know how unnecessary it was.

As far as a plant dying after I've brought it home... unless it was due to a bug problem that existed but wasn't apparent at the time of purchase, I take full responsibility for that. If I buy a healthy-looking plant, it's my fault (eliminating bugs from the picture) if it dies. It's not like cars where some are "a lemon."

(OT LOCAL ALERT:) Moonfire, The one in Andalusia has a bigger garden section but for some reason I keep finding more plants I want to buy at the Geneva one, the smallest WM I've ever seen. It's much farther away but taking my friend who doesn't drive (and lives just south of Geneva) to the store every Friday night causes me to drive right by it. So, around 8:30 pm on Friday, you can often find me there... the only one in the plant department at that time. Stupid but it's starting to feel like they're stocking the rack just for me.

The one in Andy... oh my they do an awful job taking care of plants there, which is a gross overstatement of what they do. I guess I'm saying they can't even put the trays in not-wrong places. So many sunburned, overheated, and frozen plants! The manager there is a nice lady but holy cow she's got way too much to do and about zero people to help. I used to have that store on my accounts when I was merchandising for a pool chemical company so that's why I've talked to her so much. Yes, her duties include plants, the bagged mulches/soil, lawn furniture, grills, garden chems, seeds, patio furniture, and whatever other stuff they stick over there is on her plan-o-grams and to-do list. I rarely find anything there that I want, they're either already dead from too much/little water, are so etiolated that I don't even want to make cuttings, or have bugs (Gynura.) Maybe I keep getting there right after you?! Hahaha! Now that I've bought the rest of the cheap mulch, I probably won't be back until spring. It doesn't look like they're getting more in for fall but I'm still trying to get used to when the seasons actually occur down here.

What's really weird is that these stores seem to have completely different selections of plants, every time I visit. Like, there are no hanging baskets at the Geneva store, and more large expensive house plants, nowhere near the selection of shrubs, and hardly ever any kitschy items like lucky bamboo, scheff bonsai, cactus with plastic flowers glued to them, or tillandsias (?) in seashells. For some strange reason they were selling Eucalyptus trees a few months ago. I still don't know what to do with that. Andy - rarely any clearance plants, even if obviously dead (above-ground at...

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 12:23PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi Purpleinopp,

This is a great thread, so thank you for making me smile when i think of all of the things i made back in the 70's.
( i must have been 1 or 2 yrs :) I wish!!!)

I agree that i like the slightly bare rooted cuttings that i am also finding at some of my local HD and other Big stores... Maybe they do see the trend that people like to take little plants and tend to them and watch them grow. But, it is the money factor for sure.. I have seen how they treat those plants.. if they dry up and wilt..they just throw them out.. What a shame...

Remember making Terrariums? I used to make scenes of the beach and clouds..even seagulls in the bottom of my terrariums with different types of colored sand..... Lots of cute little plants then to use.

I also would make big macrame hanging baskets and i wish i still had some of them today...

Hopefully, those trends are coming back and this generation is taking a new interest in growing things the way we did in those "hippie" days.. LOL!!!

I personally would rather have cuttings than buying any plant. Even if they are small and look like little tiny plants. They mean more coming from friends plants and they always have a story behind them as well.

Thank you for noticing that the change is coming to the stores and nurseries.. maybe there is some hope that people are becoming interested in growing like we did in the good days of yesterday... : )

I had to chuckle.. i did make things out of clay.. Mushrooms too! I still have some that i made and they are prized possessions that made it thru many years...

Thanks for this thought provoking thread!!!

Made me smile..

Take care,


    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 12:24PM
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I don't buy a lot of plants, as I have too many as it is, but of the ones that I did buy one was started in a Jiffy and the other was in what I think was in a thingy that sort of looked like a Jiffy but wasn't. It was maybe a cutting I bought last fall, and it did die on me, but I was buying a plant that needs to be warmer than what I can provide in the winter. Maybe it would have survived if I had realized what I had and put it on the heat mat. I don't ever really blame my plant deaths on the plant purveyors I have dealt with. Usually I can see how things would have gone better if I had something differently. If it's from BigBoxStore, I don't expect much.

I still make macrame, but never a mushroom, thank goodness.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 5:43PM
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Back on topic for a mo, we're finding the 3+ stem Dracaenas (especially the Gold Coasts) that we get from Holland are very short on root, to the extent that we have to plant them in their growing pots, either with the bottom cut off, or come back and take the pot off a month or two later.

Otherwise the plant disintegrates when we take it out of its pot to plant it.

This seems to be exacerbated by the very fibrous, powdery compost they are planted in.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 3:45AM
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I love macrame', in fact I've gathered supplies to start macrame' again!(not an easy or cheap feat) Especially the multiple pot/plant hangers. I also made terrariums, poor plants, I did try.
That was was oh so long ago. Plants then were the spider and purple passion plants but only cost $0.29,
lol and my allowance was $1.00. The only store in town that had the 'good' macrame' supplies was the Aakron in Torrance. Then there was the old Pier One in the mall.
Actually still have a mushroom kitchen towel holder and a butterfly bathroom hand towel holder.
I mentioned in another thread that the large do-it-yourself stores have the plants there to get you in to buy potting soil and pots then bug killer, etc. Just as I was told that the stores do not make money on lumber but make money on the nail guns, drills, and sealer, paint, etc.
Usually for me when I buy a plant at the stores the plants have to get use to the temps and humidity or lack of depending on the weather here so the plants may look poorly for a few weeks but usually bounce back.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 9:49AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Yes, I admit to making terrariums.

Spider in macram� holder - what a classic!!

S-Jon, "fibrous, powdery compost they are planted in." There's something different about the peat I've seen recently too although I'd describe it a little differently, it's almost like finely shredded rubber. I think almost all of the plants I've bought in the past couple years have come from Apopka, FL. Hope they keep up the good work down there.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 6:03PM
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