Ebay offering of "Stage 4" starter plugs

esther_bMarch 29, 2014

I just ran across an unusual eBay listing for a large variety of "Stage 4 starter plugs". There are some very popular hostas of all sizes offered, from Appletini to Dark Shadows to Guacamole to Itsy Bitsy Spider to Lemon Zest to Mango Salsa to Pineapple Upside Down Cake to Tickle Me Pink. I only mentioned about one of every 5 they are offering.

See listing

Here's the listing:

These starter plants are only for experienced gardeners. The photo shows the approximate size of plants in the growing stage later this year.

These are stage-4 tissue cultured plants shipped as very small liners. This year you can expect 3-4 leaves. These liners are shipped "unpotted" with the growing medium still attached to the roots. These hostas need some extra care, they are not recommended for beginners. These plants need to be planted immediately upon arrival.

These plants need to be "bulked up" before fall so we only offer these starter plants early in the season. Starter liners should never be planted after June. Growing instructions are included with all orders. Here are some of the important points for growing these young tender hosta starters...

� Starters should be grown in containers for several months before being planted into the ground.

� Starters should be kept moist at all times, never sitting in water and never going dry. Check liners several times a day and water as needed.
� Starters should be grown in controlled environment (greenhouse) at a minimum night temperature of 50 degrees.

� Use a well drained, bark based, soilless mix.

� A constant liquid feed of 20-10-20 at 50ppm nitrogen is recommended.

� Maintain a soil PH of 6.0-6.5.
� A systemic fungicide is recommended.

The seller also states:


√ We promise you that your plant(s) will be free from disease, including the incurable "Hosta Virus X". Our plants come from certified disease-free stock. We grow our plants in pots of a sterile soiless mix, allowing us to ship them across the United States. We do not grow our plants in the ground where disease is present.

√ We promise that your plant will be true to type. While we do grow hundreds of different plants we take special care to make sure all plants are labeled correctly.

√ We promise that your order will be packed with caring hands and that your potted plant(s) will arrive to you in good shape, ready to plant into your garden. Each plant is carefully hand-wrapped to successfully endure the shipping process from our nursery to your door.

√ We promise that no one sells plants for less. If you find a lower price we will match it. See the details on our store page "NO ONE SELLS PLANTS FOR LESS".

√ We promise to be here for you "after the sale." Feel free to contact us anytime with any questions you may have. Your success is our success.

√ We promise you will be happy with your order. If we have failed you in any way, please contact us. We want the opportunity to "make it right". We have an excellent history of success, but mistakes can happen.

√ We promise that if you want the best you have come to the right place.

I see that they have "Gemstone", which I could settle for (after seeing the prices for Blueper, $30, wow!). I don't have a greenhouse. So, would these starters be a waste of money?

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Plugs generally take a few years to look like much in the garden. If you are willing to wait then plugs are a good way to go.

With that said, I googled the eBay seller and found some reviews you may be interested in. Google 'Casita Azul'.


    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 9:43PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

They are a bargin if you have the time...lots of time...years to baby them.

I let the hosta growers do I for me. Then when a plant has shown it has the cojones to do well past those early tc stages, I buy it.

But don't take my word for it, try some and see, as I can only speak about my own experience.


    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 9:57PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

Been there. Done that. It's not worth it.

The little ones die easily. You have to be dedicated to raising them to make it work without a controlled environment.

Of course, that's only me. I'm a somwhat lazy gardener.


    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 10:54PM
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What's more expensive, getting a well grown plant that you can put in your garden right away for $30.00 or spending a couple bucks and two to three years of babying a plant that may or may not make it for you? Let the green house growers do the work for you and spend the next three years enjoying your plant.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 9:13AM
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ilovetogrow z9 Jax Florida

I am not sure what a 'Stage 4' liner is but I have grown many liners with no problems or loss. If started early you can have a nice 'little' plant by fall. I still order starter plugs and to my knowledge have only lost 2. They take time to become a grown plant. Me I am in no hurry and because I am a pothead I can tuck the smaller ones next to the grown ones and add a little drama. Here is a Guacamole liner. I got these liners last summer and Guac is a fast grower. Small plant. I did not check out the seller on ebay but New Hampshire has some fat plugs that will set up quickly. Paula

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 9:15AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i am with bkay ...

the biggest issue.. is wintering over tiny babes in the cold north ... what to do with all those pots ... as these will not be ready for mother earth for a year or two ... from my experience anyway ...

i suppose.. if you had a small nursery bed.. so you could check them easily.. you might succeed on some level ...

with winter heave in MI .. these small one.. tend to pop right out of the ground in mid winter ... not this winter.. lol ... and then you dont find them until its too late ...

skip it.. IMHO ... UNLESS ... you fully understand.. its an experiment.. and are prepared for total loss ...

and dont forget.. to include the cost of pots.. media.. fertilizer.. and your personal time.. when evaluating.. EXACTLY what these cost ...

a 10 dollar plant that you stick in the ground.. versus spending 22 in costs for the 10 dollar plant ... but then again .. the experiment has a value ....

the old cost/benefit ratio rocks ...


    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 10:06AM
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mary4b(4b WI)

This choice is about time/attention/care vs. money.

If you HAVE time, attention and care to give, go for it.
If you don't, don't bother...it's not a guarantee and it will not make an impact in your garden for literally years to come.

I bought at least 500 plugs from Zilis and others about 6 years ago. Let me just say that I do not have 500 hostas in my garden right now. But I didn't really have the time/attention/care to give. I'm not always consistent with my gardening, many of my plugs died, but the tough ones made it.

They all needed to be stepped up...like the eBay seller says...taken out of the plug and planted in tiny pots. I kept mine in woodland shade so that I didn't have to water as much. Mine overwintered there with absolutely no attention from me. For 4 years, some croaked when we had a long dry spell and they didn't get enough water in summer, some croaked in the spring from rot, or whatever. Some grew straight through the little pots into the ground, were bursting out of their little pots and were hardy little buggers. That tended to be certain ones...I can tell you that the London Fog hosta can nearly not be killed. Halcyon was tough, and so were Captain Kirk, Ocean Isle and Katie Q.

I did that with 80% and then 20% I planted directly in my weedy field garden...in October! Most of them made it just fine and have now turned into wonderful hostas. Some of the large plugs that I did this way included Orange Marmelade, First Frost, Guacamole, Pineapple Upside Down Cake, Stained Glass. Ocean Isle. To be honest, I think these ones were more successful then the ones in the woods that stayed in pots, but it may have just been luck.

For Minis, I only had one hosta variety survive my extreme abuse: Cracker Crumbs. I had one survive in the field and 2 or 3 in the woods...out of 10 plugs.

From my experience, I learned about myself: I do better with instant gratification, I don't really HAVE the time that I'd like to have for growing plugs.
I think you have to know yourself, or try it, learn and grow!

It's fun...and you can always write a post about it, later!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 10:43AM
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Costco has bags of hosta with 8 or 10 to a bag for around $15 but I decided it was better to get one or two large ones instead of waiting for three years to get big enough to see results, If it ever warms up , I am in my 3rd year of growth for half my plants and am hoping the are in the leaping year growth

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 11:20AM
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bernd ny zone5

In case you want to grow these plugs under fluorescent lights, here are some costs. I am growing 40-50 hostas under light which I grew from seeds since November 15. They are bigger than that plug in above photo. I use two 4ft 40W fluorescent lights 24 hrs per day, cost for 5 months is $81.

One slug probably can eat one of those liner plugs in a hurry.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 6:50PM
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Jon 6a SE MA

To have only one complaint out on over 5600 customers they must be doing something right. I would say buy a dozen or so to spread out the 5 buck shipping charge and in a few years with a little effort you will have a nice selection.

Buy the grown sizes for instant gratification and the liners for the long term satisfaction. This would be the best of both worlds. I have had good luck with small liners which weathered the winter before this placed right in the ground immediately in the previous Fall (2012). This Spring (if it ever gets here) will show if it was a good idea or not. I certainly didn't give the TLC that is recommended, but they did well last summer with watering being the only special attention. I keep asking myself why natural conditions wouldn't work with liners just as they do with mature plants. Would any indoor condition for hosta be better than dormancy outdoors?

If you follow the directions given, I see no reason not to have excellent results and I wouldn't expect many or any failures. I don't have that kind of patience and liners work well for me so they should work for almost anyone..


    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 7:01PM
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bernd ny zone5

Look at the math. One liner costs $6, a 3 year old plant costs $12. The first winter, etc. you lose one out of 2, so it is even $ wise, but with the $12 plant you have a close to fully mature plant in another 3 years (3+3=6 yrs), and much less trouble.
You can also spend a little more and buy parts of mature plants as I do from Land of the Giants and have instant gratification.

Disclaimer : I am growing hostas from seeds, not to save money, but to hybridize and have winter gardening fun.

This post was edited by berndnyz5 on Mon, Mar 31, 14 at 9:39

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 9:19AM
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