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Buying at a Big Box store

Posted by Mary246 none (My Page) on
Thu, Apr 3, 14 at 21:50

Hi
I saw a lovely blue Optimara at WalMart but I didn't buy it. I hesitated because I don't want to bring home any new pests. So in general, what do you look for .. to avoid getting a plant with obvious problems? The back of some of the leaves had little pock marks like something had taken little bites out. I realize that all new violets should go into isolation.
Thanks
Mary


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

I have bought many plants from Big Box Stores and only had one bug. The plants in the store are suffering from severe shock, mechanical damage because of being handled (torn leaves, bruises etc)
I try to get fresh plants, recently delivered and inspect for the usual suspects. I don't think I would buy a plant with webs, for instance.
I think my Walmart had the same blue violet as yours. I saw it a week ago and didn't buy it but this week, it was so sad I couldn't resist. Some "two legged cut leaf scissor bug" had cut off most of the leaves. It had stopped blooming, had not been watered and was on a dark bottom shelf. It didn't look chewed by 4, 6 or 8 legged critters but the 2 legged "scissor bugs" had seriously defoliated it. So, I bought it super discount.
It is in hyper quarantine and likely to stay there for a long long time. As I say, I only had one plant go bad with broadmites and it was devastating but not enough to break my faith. I believe the Big Box plant providers are small nurseries who have good cultural practice and clean growing environments.
I will keep buying ..but inspect as I would any plant for mealy bugs, spider mites..the ones I can see. I couldn't see the broad mites..but I am still buying with confidence. (and quarantine)

This post was edited by lucky123 on Fri, Apr 4, 14 at 12:16


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

Most big box providers are large nurseries who have regular inspections by the state to regulate for insects, etc. I believe the plants become infected after they are exposed to the other plants and the general environment of the store. Employees who have no knowledge of violet care put the plants under stress and any bug looking for a meal will move in quickly on a sickly, stressed plant.

As Lucky says-just isolate, isolate, isolate!

Linda


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

Hi Mary,
A suggestion would be to prepare yourself with research information. You can do a search on this forum using the words Irina or thrips so you know what to expect. Then perhaps have the insecticide remedies suggested on hand, should a problem arise with any new plants you bring in. A recommended isolation period is six months or two bloom cycles. Joanne

This post was edited by fortyseven on Thu, May 1, 14 at 1:46


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

African Violets I purchased from Big Box stores almost always have had Thrips, which I have lately had more success in avoiding.

I've also brought Mealybug into my collection, ... not on purchased AV's, but on other houseplants.

I've spent years trying to combat pest infestations on AV's.

Since I have begun avoiding Big Box houseplant purchases, I have had much more success in avoiding pests.

But you should ALWAYS ISOLATE new plant material, as I have had a problem or two with the mail-order suppliers as well ...


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

I suppose if you really want to be safe, don't bring in any new plant material. No cut flowers, nothing from any vendors. It's all suspect.

However - we have a hard time living with just our 3 or 300 plants. So we all take some kind of risk. Aegis is so right - ISOLATE.

Some can avoid "Big Box Store" purchases, but they are the only places I have ever seen violets for sale without ordering them. So far, they have been okay, although I've tossed a couple that just didn't look good after I got them home.

Here's the routine at my house. Bring the plant home in its bag. It doesn't get past the "pantry" (entry room with washer, etc.).

I lay down newspapers and put the bagged plant on top of them. Next remove all the blossoms and buds from the plant (hard at times), and take it out of the pot. Gently remove as much of that heavy soil as possible and repot it in a new pot in my mix.

While doing this, I have looked it over to be sure I can't see any signs of bugs in the soil or on the stem. Also remove any outer leaves that are damaged. You might want to wash one or two of these off with Dawn (that's what I use, nothing magic about it) and set it to grow). Then I cover the plant with a clear plastic bag and isolate it until it recovers. This is about 3 mos. and I can see how it is doing by then.

Bundle up that newspaper with the old soil and the plastic bags and pots and get it away from everything. Put it in the trash.

I've seen a number of clever isolation methods, one involving a cake cover thing that bought cakes come in but since I've never bought a cake like that I use large clear plastic bags.

I've had a couple of issues but they didn't come from the big box stores. I've (knock on wood) never seen thrips. I've enjoyed my plain old ordinary violets just as much as some of my Lyon's and others.

If you have a systemic insecticide like Marathon, you can add it to the soil. I don't have it presently.

Things besides insects can make marks on the undersides of leaves though. It can be hard to tell the difference. It might just be the rough handling. There will be another blue violet :)

Diana


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

Beyond Bugs is Rots. I bought a "basket case violet" but it has firm, erect foliage, not wilted mushy or twisted, The stems of the leaves removed by the "2 legged cut leaf scissor bugs" were healthy, not mushy or slimed.. The crown was healthy, not twisted, distorted, discolored, or covered in gray mold or deathly pale yellow.
I buy a plant that is on the edge sometimes but I Never buy a plant that is wilted, gray, moldy or slimy or has a damaged/discolored crown.
Someone made the point that many bugs are local and get on the plants after delivery.
I know Outside I have spider mites and fungal gnats. I have cat we call the Dandy Lion who lives in a cloud of semi-detached fur and can spread mites on her feather duster tail. Fungus gnats can fly so I can't blame these chronic problem bugs on the local store.
I did get broad mites because I didn't quarantine. I thought the plants were far enough away to be isolated but I didn't take into account Dandy Lions.


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

Dandy Lions sounds adorable. Photo? Optimara has a photo of a tidy ginger cat in their FB page. J


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

I rather thought that was a calico on Optimara's page? Will have to double check.

Do beware of the Dandelions. Mine takes bites out of the leaves (yes, that is the cat's name). So far Red Rocket and O. Manitoba have proven tasty.

Yes, if they look mushy, gray, or have fungus, there will be another time.

Diana


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

Name: Zero AKA Dandy Lion


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

Diana,
Yes, you are correct, definitely a Calico. Hmm, your Dandelions goes for one red and one blue, that is what's called a balanced diet. Red veggies and blue veggies.

Lucky,
Zero, AKA Dandy Lions is GORGEOUS!! What an artistic photo!

Lyndon Lyon Greenhouse has a cat, also, on a video of their greenhouse, Rocky, I think.

Joanne

This post was edited by fortyseven on Sat, Apr 5, 14 at 2:06


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

Here is the plant I rescued at Walmart. What do you think about the crown? The plant looks healthy. At least I have leaves if the crown fails.
Zero was camera shy. Ran up the tree. It is accidentally artistic as cats don't "pose." :)

This post was edited by lucky123 on Sat, Apr 5, 14 at 0:58


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

Dandy Lions is absolutely gorgeous and I can tell by the innocent look on his (her?) face that you are slandering the poor kitty.

Joanne,

I did think it was a calico because I have a soft spot for them since I lost my beautiful, funny-looking girl. This one is a mongrelese. I suppose you are right about the balanced diet, lol. She hasn't had a go (yet) at Nortex's Snowkist Haven so it's not about patriotism.

Back to the plant, I'm not sure. It could be just recovering from stress or it could be something else. One thing I didn't mention is that from time to time I worry and get out the 30x loupe and the flashlight and examine the centers to see if I can find anything. I don't know that this is necessary, but I do it when I get a panic attack over whether they look right or not. The isolation window is a little chilly and violet leaves are described as "hairy" anyway. So far nothing's moved! Potting debris looks enormous.

Diana


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

Joanne Diane
I feed regular cat chow but I worry about taurine so I supplement with ground up chicken parts (tsp-tbsp a day) The Dandy Lion was right out of Box, in front of the Store.
Diane Slander the Poor Kitty? Here you can see the "cloud of semi-detached fur"
I don't have many house plants but I am extremely paranoid about rots and bugs that could be introduced on houseplant and spread outside. I notice out of state shippers have an inspection certificate for Japanese Beetle. I had one plant I suspected of Texas root rot. I burned that plant, soil and all. It is the Big Picture, Outside that I am very careful of


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

Lucky,
Gorgeous!
Thanks!
Joanne


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

Gorgeous photo, gorgeous kitty. It is my understanding that the raw is good for them, all dry not so good (lost my Xena to urinary problems so am trying to feed better now although with canned).

Honestly, though, they look so darned innocent....especially after a big crash.

Diana


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

Joanne: The photographer is a natural talent. This is off topic but I would post the "on the wing" bird photos. Talented, he is! I am not.. I have the same cat, same tree and I can't get those shots.
Diane
Cats go blind without taurine.. I feed a good brand of dry, free choice then I grind up chicken gizzards, hearts,. Freeze it in small portions and give her a spoonful a day.
I don't give her free choice or large quantities. I want her to eat her balanced dry food. The chicken is just a "vitamin supplement" of my own devising.
I thought cats would not over eat but I gave a cat (Capt. Sam Silver, most beautiful cat I have ever seen but that is another story) I gave Sammy Beast a whole tin of sardines. He gobbled the whole thing. He looked bilious for a few days and never touched sardines again or anything that resembled sardines.


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

Diana,
Your cats sound like they keep you entertained! I enjoyed them when we had them. But after they all passed on, we developed allergies to the animated feather dusters. Mongrolese sounds funny!
Lucky, Sam and the Sardines story had me LOL!
Joanne

This post was edited by fortyseven on Sat, Apr 5, 14 at 20:05


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

Diana or Other Experienced Person
Putting plants in plastic? Do you put the plant in the plastic bag in the shade for 3 months? What about light and excess humidity?

This post was edited by lucky123 on Sat, Apr 5, 14 at 21:45


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

A separate question or a search might turn up better answers on isolation methods. I confess that I'm not as careful as some others are and even I can see flaws in my methods.

So, bearing that in mind, it depends a lot on what area you have available for isolation. I use the window in the outer room so they have light. Mostly I do not use a sealed bag but just wrap them in a lightweight storage bag and I do open it and check them intermittently. This is somewhat flawed, but the bag is tucked all around them and it is a separate room not near other violets.

I do have a few things in ziplock bags which is a better method but I don't like them (just hate that stiff plastic). I have set leaves and had them produce in there without ever opening the bag. The key is to try to get the moisture okay in the first place. Right now there is a small plant from a vendor in one, but I have opened the bag to let the condensation evaporate. That one is under a plant light.

I will open the "isolation" container but I do it away from other plants.

I've been nursing a plant from the grocery store since January and it started getting extra crowns and suckers so I removed those. I think it was just severely cold damaged but it's still on the isolation window. At the time, I had thought it was a red/white Optimara but now I think it may be an Anthoflores. It's getting ready to bloom so maybe I can figure it out. I also took 2 suckers from it so I have 3 of them (why?).

I brought home another one from there and after a few days I tossed it. It was probably just cold damaged too but I decided that it looked so bad in the center, I wouldn't chance it and it would take forever to recover. I did save a leaf and ziplock it. I didn't see anything live there but caution is the word - it's really better to leave them there but if you must do this, then take precautions.

I think the woman who used the cake containers simply sealed them up tightly and put them on her stand. She had limited space. On the podcasts, it was mentioned that the bottom shelf is best if you have no other place.

As to how long to isolate? I have seen all kinds of recommendations there.

Diana


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

Thanks Diana
I have tried leaf cutting many times but they always rot in the plastic. I don't use plastic at all over root cuttings or seedling. Your method is standard. I see almost the same technique posted many places. I probably need to cut the amount of water, use a drier and lighter rooting medium. I just needed to be assured, "Yes, the pots/plants are encased in plastic bags with no special way of covering or securing."


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

Hi Lucky,
Plant trays with dark plastic bottoms and high clear domes are available at a home center/hardware store at this time of year. They work very well for incubating plants and helping leaves root. They have ventilation openings that can be adjusted for the amount of air. Due to the high domes, there is a lot of air circulation, the trays are large enough so that the plants are not crowded. The plants benefit from being placed together in the same tray. The trays were moderate in cost, considering the amount of use they get. The trays were pictured on another thread by another person on the Forum who also uses them. The trays also keep bugs and insects out. They can be placed in indirect light or morning sun. They work very well because they are designed for that purpose. It is easy to lift off the dome to check on moisture needs. Joanne


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

Joanne
I will look for those trays. That would make rooting easier. I might be able to buy the cake domes from a local bakery which would work for isolation of purchased plants. I might have better luck..
Did you notice I posted the bugs are back on the heat treated 110 degree for 15 min AV. I have to identify and treat because if they are mites, they can persist indoors for long time and reinfect without any apparent host. They hibernate in cracks so I need to identify and treat that or I am out of the houseplant hobby, maybe for a long time.
To paraphrase EE Cummin "My Uncle Sol had African Violet collection, then he had a cyclamen/broad/spider mite and general pest control collection, then he.."
Do I really want to know what is next? I know I am spending more money and time on bugs than on plants.
"O poor pitiful me, them mean bugs won't let me be. Ooooh woe is me" (whine, howl, b* and moan)
LOL :)

This post was edited by lucky123 on Sun, Apr 6, 14 at 14:15


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

I'm sure my isolation is normal but I know people who would consider it inadequate. I don't generally seal up leaves to root but I happened to do it to a couple and it worked fine.

Me, I root mine in shoeboxes and solo cups. i have trays with lids but there are baby seedlings in them.

Good luck.

Diana


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

DIana, that is very helpful. Since I am not growing in the house at the moment, I can try starting leaves and isolating new purchases while I figure out what to do about the bugs.
Well, I had plant collection, now I have a bug collection but this should be fun. I thought about trashing the plants but now, I think not. I am going to study bugs particularly what they eat.
You know, Big Box Stores sell the plants for $10 and then the insecticide is 20 times that, most of which don't even work. Anybody have a source for black market DDT?
I am going to brew up some home remedies, I have nothing to lose but the bugs. That li'l ole home chemist, me! A new hobby, formulating bug sprays.
The hot water didn't work, probably because the bugs are not cyclamen or broad mites. Hot water does not work on spider mites.

This post was edited by lucky123 on Sun, Apr 6, 14 at 15:59


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

I quit growing ivy because I couldn't keep spider mites off it, but they were fairly easy to identify.

I try to keep mostly to violets and what I have because other plants can harbor things that you don't normally find on african violets.

Big Box Stores are what they are. There is no guarantee that you will never get a problem from a specialty plant grower either. Just be careful wherever it comes from. No DDT :)

Diana


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

Diana
I am going to make a broad spectrum herbal extract.
I am going to buy more violets tomorrow from the local big box stores if they have any I like.. I will isolate as per your instructions.
I trust the Big Box Stores. I have been buying for a long time and I am not going to quit just because I was careless with isolation and quarantine. If past history is any indication, it will be at least twenty years before I have another problem


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

Hi Lucky, Yes, I saw your explanation about the bugs. I don't have any experience, so I suggested you might want to see if your county where you live has an agricultural extension society and call them tomorrow.

If the BBS are charging $10 per plant, then they must be very hard to get and rare in your area. For less money, perhaps consider ordering directly either from Optimara or from one of the specialty growers
because you would possibly have a better chance of getting something less likely to have pests.

The seed trays I got were under $10 each, and can be found for even less, I bought mine at a higher priced garden center. The long, narrow rectangular shape holds quite a lot, plus they are vented. I don't recall which thread where someone posted a photo of the exact same trays I got. Perhaps Diana remembers. Some people in my AV club also use clear plastic shoe boxes. The round cake boxes never worked for me, but that was before I joined the forum, so I did not open them to ventilate, so things rotted. Having trays where you can lift the domes off is easier, soil does not get tossed around as much, they are stable on the counter or floor.

Diana, you wrote that you separated some suckers from new plants, that is a kindness to the plant!

You wrote:
I also took 2 suckers from it so I have 3 of them (why?).

Joanne

This post was edited by fortyseven on Sun, Apr 6, 14 at 21:18


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

Joanne,

I meant what on earth do I need with 3 of this plant? I probably didn't need 1 of this plant :D. Or the 2 sale holiday cactus I found there the next time. I have sworn off that supermarket; however the holiday cactus are doing great.

That was some thread where a member had a leaf order come, but I don't remember the title. Or perhaps there was another one. I don't think the real "isolationists" vent unless they have a place far away from their collections. Of course for other purposes, venting is useful.

Lucky,

If it's spider mites, there are quite a few pages of information devoted to getting rid of them. I never had them on violets so can't help. It does sound like a strong possibility from your description.

Some big box stores are better than others about their plant care. I think its just a mistake to lump them all together. I did see a bunch of violets with cyclamen mite at a Walmart once. However, I had also bought some there that were fine (this was a number of years ago).

Diana

This post was edited by quimoi on Sun, Apr 6, 14 at 21:51


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

Diana
I spent all day Concocting.
Suddenly I like bugs. I want more bugs. I hope they don't go away before I get my bug sprays made or I will be very sad. I am going bug hunting.
Bugs ate my hobby, now bugs are my hobby *evil smirk*
Joanne or Diana (or Linda)
Was it yourself who posted that dipping a leaf in 10% Clorox and Alcohol will disinfect/debug the leaf for rooting? I know leaves can be dipped but not to spray plants with Clorox but isn't there a mite remedy, some percentage of alcohol and water? Do you know the mix (I could do a search)

This post was edited by lucky123 on Mon, Apr 7, 14 at 0:19


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

Hi Diana,
Thanks, that was the thread. Regarding the suckers, maybe if they grow into plants, in the summer, there might be neighbors you can give the plants to.

You are right about the venting on the container, I did not think of that. I forgot the discussion was about isolation, not growing. I use the containers in a separate room for growing leaves.

For isolation, I just a separate room. I learned some suggestions from what you wrote, about changing the soil.
Hi Lucky,
The container I was talking about can be viewed on the thread entitled Propagating African Violets from Leaves, Question. Scroll way down to view it.

I hope you find the answers to your questions on the insect control. I don't have a lot of experience. Especially not knowing what it is. Maybe even an internet search will lead to some university agricultural websites that might have info.

Joanne


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

I wasn't the one who said about bleach/alcohol for leaves. I'd like to see some cites that say that will kill insects or eggs. I would think the bleach would be an antifungal but I know what it does to skin and I think there are probably better ones for leaves.

However, I never used it so that is just my opinion. I do use alcohol to clean the razor blades, but I suspect there are better products for that use also but it's here and it's easy. If I have used it on something I think might be iffy, I go to the sink and a bleach product.

Lucky, I hope you get the bugs without too much hurt to the plants. That seems to be the issue a lot of the time. I found a page with a lot of ways to kiil spider mites :).

Diana


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

Hi Lucky
On some older threads, Irina wrote about many different insect remedies. Maybe if you do a search on this forum using the words bleach or clorox, you will find the older threads. To do a search, go to the top of the forum page, you will see a little box and instructions. People use Marathon, that is a brand name. You can find out the active ingredient in it and get a product that has it in it. Or maybe you already have that product, perhaps under a different name. Others use Neem oil. Again, this is just what I have read. I don't have much personal experience with treatments to be of much help.
Joanne


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

Diana
Pet Safe, Food Safe, Environmentally Friendly for a start. I found compounds that look promising.
I was researching ancient remedies, especially from California Grape Growers who have hot dusty conditions favored by mites. Some are very simple and safe, and likely effective.
Joanna
I type in Irina and I get any post that mentions Irina but not Irina's post. For Instance, if I wanted to find a post by Joanne, I would get this one where you are specifically mentioned. Any ideas about how to get a specific posters post?


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

I believe marathon is mostly for soil mealies, but it says Aphids, whiteflies, thrips, mealybugs, soft scale. It's a systemic and expensive. The ingredient is Imidacloprid and Linda said it was an issue for the bees.

Neem oil was mentioned somewhere. I never used it but it's popular.

Darned if I can ever find anything on purpose here either.

Okay - go up to the search function, and search this forum for bleach. The third thread had Irina recommending bleach for new leaves (and Fred Hill, whom I also greatly respected saying he just isolated them.) Perhaps you'll find more.

Diana

This post was edited by quimoi on Mon, Apr 7, 14 at 14:56


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

Lucky, yes, just type in the topic, not the name
thanks, D
J


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RE: Buying at a Big Box store

Diana and Joanne
Thank You. I am experimenting with extracts or tinctures of various herbals so information about alcohol/water/plants is very helpful.
I am going to try water extraction first before alcohol. I might try my remedies on some weed before spraying my "precious."
I am ready to start the course of home remedy treatment tomorrow so I will see soon how it all works


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