Monday, May 7, 2012
From Last To First In A Single Season
A mail order plant supplier must strike a chord to get an order from us. Bluestone Perennials offers a wide selection of young chrysanthemum plants. Having a childhood connection to mums, I had to place an order with Bluestone. When the plants arrived last year, the box containing the usual plastic pots had been filled with loose Styrofoam packing peanuts. Trying to remove the plants while inflicting no further damage covered the floor with Styrofoam. Not being one to keep my displeasure to myself, I called the supplier with polite suggestions on how they could improve their packing methods. They told me that they already had a new system ready to use the following year.
It was with considerable reservation that a repeat order was placed this year. UPS tracking had our package arriving in Oneonta late Friday. I guess Saturday deliveries are only a distant memory as our plants were delivered today. They had spent nearly a week in the box. Bluestone's new system protected the plants from damage in transit.
A persistent problem with purchased plants is their reluctance to send new root growth beyond the limits of the original pot. I slice down each face of the root mass and try to wash away as much of the soilless potting medium as possible. Still, at the end of the growing season, new roots are scant. We know this because when the lifeless remains are removed from the ground the following spring no new roots are anywhere to be found. These coco pots are advertised as biodegradable and instructions say to plant the pots with the plants. Not one to follow directions, I will try to remove these new arrivals to larger plastic pots filled with real soil. With our likely frost free date still weeks away, these plants may need to spend some nights in the basement.
The dream is to have some success wintering over chrysanthemums. Clearly marked as hardy in zones 5 to 9, we know that here in zone 4 there is little chance that any of these plants will see a second spring. Still we will try. These plants will be pinched and pampered this year. Fall flowers are expected. Any sign of life next spring will be cause for celebration.