Plugs vs Leaves

Mary246February 21, 2014

Which seems to be the most successful when you order online from a vendor? Plants or leaves? I have a limited budget and would like to maximize the value of whatever I order (especially since shipping is so expensive). And, I could order several leaves for the cost of 1 plant......but if the leaves don't produce babies then a plant might be smarter... Choices, choices.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


There are a couple of ways to approach this. Plants will give you quicker results but may have difficulty adjusting to their new environment. Shipping can also be hard on them. I have received plants that were so tiny they had little to no chance of survival.

Leaves will ship better but take longer to grow to maturity. There is no reason a leaf should not produce babies and even if you lose one or two you are still ahead.

Most growers like to grow their plants from leaves in the environment in which the plant will be living. If you are concerned about the leaf dying before producing babies, consider buying more than one leaf of a variety.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 1:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've wondered about this also, particular since those sent from Canada are shipped bare-rooted.

Now Selective Gardener would not have that issue, but I don't which is better there.

Would it depend on an individual's success in starting from a leaf? I know there are some folks who seem to have a lot of trouble.

Diana in PA

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 10:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would suggest plugs or baby violet plants. In my experience I have had more success with plugs. If you root a leaf and you loose it to too much moisture, rot etc..then the leaf is lost.

However, with the plant if you think its not looking too good, you can always put a leaf down if there are some healthy ones left. That way you have a back up in case the plant doesnt adjust to the new environment.

Starting from a leaf is time consuming and at each stage of putting the leaf down, separating plantlets, re-potting plantlets there's a risk of loosing the plant.

I would suggest waiting till spring, to increase your chances of success with either plugs or leaves.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 12:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

In my experience, I have babies from leaves in 8-12 weeks. It is rare to lose a leaf that came in okay shape but I have a lot of experience. The growers I've been looking at don't ship until April or May so that's not an issue.

I'd be more concerned about losing a bare-rooted baby that had been shipped from Canada but maybe I'm wrong. This is not the same as ordering a larger plant where you can take leaves immediately.

I wondered a bit about the basic quality from somewhere like Selective Gardener. Are the plugs more "premium" or something than the leaves?

(I had only read "plugs" when I first responded. There is a considerable size difference between a plug and what most growers sell as a plant. A plant usually would provide some leaves that you could start but they certainly do cost more.)


This post was edited by quimoi on Fri, Feb 21, 14 at 14:49

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 2:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

One thing that occurred to when I was preparing a leaf order. If you spend the $5-$8 for a plant, you are in much better shape to complain to the vendor if it doesn't bloom true than if you get a leaf and find that it's "off" months later.

That alone may be enough reason to order some varieties from a trusted source.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 6:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've started with plants, plugs, and leaves, and have had success (and failure) with each.

Of the three, plugs are likely the most successful, as there is less chance of importing a pest into your collecting space ... and the plantlets get a chance to "grow up" in your conditions.

BTW, Bloomlovers is a great supplier of plugs ...

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 7:34AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Why is there less chance of importing pests with plugs than with leaves? Just curious. (The plants, I get.)

I ordered leaves but that's partially because I'm cheap. I also felt I'd get to keep the "pick of the litter" from the babies that way, but maybe I'm on the wrong train of thought there. Cheap didn't exactly describe the final total though.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 10:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

To Diana,

Plugs are not safer than leaves.

Sorry, if I gave that impression ...

I think that you can safely say, ... the less plant material involved (i.e. fewer places for buggies to hide), ... the safer the import.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 3:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks, you rather did give that impression :) I expect plugs are relatively safe though, especially compared with a large plant.

(And I just found a note where I'd found a privet mite on a leaf so nothing is that safe.)

Edit: I don't know if anyone else is interested in this, but my husband wanted to know what a "plug" was. Here is a link to an Optimara Grower Catalog. Here is the newest one but it is huge

On page 15 (not actually numbered), it shows Optimara's "baby plants" and their "starter/liner" which they refer to as plugs elsewhere. These are items sold to growers, not the public.

The same photo is in the old catalog and the download's not as big. It's on pages 5 (Everfloris) and 14.

I suppose any grower with a high demand for a variety may use plugs and grow them on. I really don't know. It's certainly a situation where if one of them sneezes, they all catch a cold. (I'm thinking of my own situation where I did a tiny bit of overordering ....)


This post was edited by quimoi on Sun, Feb 23, 14 at 10:29

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 7:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I like to use leaves, because they are easy, and you get results very quickly. I've even, as an experiment, started leaves in a medecine bottle, in water, and I've gotten roots very quickly. I've done the same thing with a cane beonia, Buying plants online is risky because plants are so frequently sent when they are too small.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 11:31AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Plants depend somewhat on the vendor. I once got a very nice order of them from Lyons. Big plants (big bill) If you want to be certain of getting a Rob's true variety, you can order from VioletBarn. Maybe you want to see a plant and be sure it has good variegation so you use a trusted eBay seller...

That said, I usually get leaves too, but they are sometimes "off" but I also often get older varieties and that happens. Anything should be isolated - plugs, leaves, or plants.


    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 12:23PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Too much light?
I thought that my miniature AV was doing OK with a...
Larry Mayer
AV cousins.... streps
so i was curious how many of you also grow streps?...
African Violets -New to this, need ideas on plants selections!
I recently placed a few orders with PJ's Violets. I...
Newbie at AV
I rescued this AV a few months ago, it was pretty sad...
Copied from the Seed Exchange, explains reason for new Houzz format
The story none of us were told. kchd(7b/8a MS)February...
Sponsored Products
Jane Seymour Delphinium / Iris / Calla Lily Silk Flower Arrangement Multicolor -
$135.00 | Hayneedle
Cottonwood Falls Green Slate Round Copper Wall Fountain
Lamps Plus
Agave Perle Decorative Pillow
$109.50 | FRONTGATE
River City Clocks MD483-14 Hand carved Birds with Leaves & Nest Musical Cuckoo C
$748.30 | Hayneedle
Etruscan Courtyard Solar Fountain
Lamps Plus
Purple & Ivory Falling Leaves Microfiber Sheet Set
$17.99 | zulily
Area Rug: Shadow Leaves Gold 7' 6" x 9' 6"
Home Depot
Patio Living Concepts Lamps Coronado 15 in. Outdoor White Table Lamp with Palm
Home Depot
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™