Quarantine, Aphids, and Treatment

Quarantine

The old ‘prevention is the best method’ rings true with plant pests and diseases. A good quarantine protocol allows for new acquisitions to be kept separate from the rest of the collection so that disease and damage are kept to a minimum. This means ideally in a separate room, or at the very least, a separate bin or rack. There are various degrees to which you can keep plants separate, the most thorough being one plant per (sealed) container. This is not always the most practical way of quarantining because it takes up more space than housing plants communally. I house plants based on their source and date of arrival for a minimum of six months, but more often than not, this ends up being their permanent home. Some pests do not become evident until months after you receive them, either because they were cleaned before sending, or because eggs have not yet hatched. It is not uncommon for aphids eggs to sit in soil or on plant surface for six months.

Aphids

For nearly a decade I did not use any pesticides on my indoor or outdoor plants. In the past year, I have had new plants come in with multiple types of aphids, including ground aphids and one that resembles a bean aphid. The bean aphids were on imports out of Asia and came in bare-root without any observable sign of disease. The ground aphids were from a reliable domestic source, and especially difficult to keep track of due to their subterranean breeding and activity. Thankfully, all plants were housed only with other plants from the same import/shipment. Nonetheless, it was still a considerable number of plants infected, as this spring the plant collection has grown considerably.

Treatment

For six months I attempted to eradicate the aphids using natural methods including vinegar, insecticidal soap (potassium salts), peroxide, neem oil, and various submersion techniques. The plants suffered from excess moisture from the frequent mistings, and the aphid populations were not declining. I also tried hand cleaning over 600 plants with a mild soap/neem solution and repotting in new substrate. It took over two weeks standing at a sink all day to clean them. The aphids kept coming back. I repeated the treatments, combined treatments, for months, without success. The aphid populations were never high, but they were persistent. As a last resort, I tried a systemic insecticide to treat both the ground aphids and the bean aphids using a very dilute dosage (1/10 teaspoon/gallon). For most plants, one treatment was all that was required, but a few required a second dose. It took care of both aphid types in a matter of days and there has been no sign of them since.

Your Plants

I offer this as a word of caution, to always quarantine new plants, and also to say that I am fastidious about checking for diseases and pests. I only ever sell plants that I am confident to be pest and disease-free. The only pest that has been problematic to me, as described above, are aphids. Over the course of the past six months, I have treated many of my newer species because the source plants contained aphids. *If you have purchased any plants, out of caution for animal terrarium inhabitants, please refrain from putting them with live animals for six months.* I realize this is less than ideal, and do not anticipate this precaution to be required in the future.

F.A.Q.

Below are some frequently asked questions.  If you do not see an answer to your question, please contact me.

Can I stick my new plant in my terrarium immediately, or should I wait?
Please read this for more information. 

Do you ship year around?
I ship four months out of the year, two months in Spring, and two months in Fall. The reason for this is to provide focused time for growing, propagation and updating the webstore during the no-shipping months.  

The temperatures during these times are also great for shipping plants to most places.  The next season will be Sept -Oct of 2019. It is safe to ship when nighty lows and daily highs are between 40-85 for two consecutive days.  I can hold plants until the weather in your place of residence is hospitable.

Do you offer a guarantee?
Yes, I guarantee live and healthy arrival for all plants. If you are dissatisfied with the condition of your plants upon arrival, please get in touch immediately and we will find a solution.  It is not feasible for me to offer a guarantee past the point of arrival, as your success with plants will depend on the quality of care, which is not something I can control for.  Please also note that one damaged leaf on a plant with many leaves does not warrant replacement or reimbursement.  

I strive to offer generous portions of all species offered, and will never ship a plant that isn’t healthy enough to survive the stress of shipping.  Even so, some plants such as Gobenia Begonias and many Solanum species will drop their leaves in transit, so the guarantee on these is for a healthy stem.  They are both fast to recover if kept properly.  This information is always mentioned in the description of the particular plant.

How should I grow my plants?
All my plants are grown in sealed or mostly sealed bins.  They are accustomed to high humidity.  All the plants available should be kept in terrarium conditions unless otherwise noted.  Even if they may eventually grow as house plants, they will likely need help transitioning.  When in doubt, plant in a mostly sealed environment with sphagnum moss, and keep temperatures in the 70’s.  Nearly all the plants I sell can be grown like this.

Why are so many plants out of stock?
If you are viewing the store during the off season, all plants will be listed out of stock to prevent plant purchases during this no-shipping period. 

During the Fall and Spring shipping seasons, plants sell very quickly and inventory changes daily.  About 50% of my inventory is gone within the first two weeks of each shipping season so there is significantly less available following the opening period.  I am a small time grower with no greenhouse facilities currently, so am limited in the number of plants I can produce.  That being said, I hope to continue to grow the offering of plants each year.  

Why do you show out of stock plants?
So that you can keep an eye on plants that you might want in the future.  There is a “want list’ feature so you can easily keep track, and you can sign up to be notified when a particular plant is made available again.

Do you grow all the plants you sell?
Yes! I do not purchase plants for resale, only for propagation.  This ensures  I know enough about each plant to provide growing and care information.  Additionally, it ensures that all plants are healthily growing at the time of sale.   

How do you ship plants? 
Plants are shipped bare root in sealed bags with moist sphagnum.  They are shipped USPS priority (2-3 day service depending on location).  Shipping is a flat rate $10.  

Can I have my plants held at the post office?
Most definitely! This is often a much safer option when temperatures are borderline, and it saves them from sitting in a potentially hot or cold van for hours prior to arrival.  If you plan to have plants arrive during a time when you are not immediately able to receive them, please have them held at the nearest USPS location.

To setup this delivery option, please find the most convenient USPS location for you, and put the address in the shipping section of the order form.  If you need help with this, please contact me.  

Can I return my plants?
Due to the sensitive nature of the plants being offered, no returns are accepted.  Please contact me promptly if you are dissatisfied with your order and I will offer replacements of refunds for any plants that arrived in sub-par condition.  

When can I expect my order?
You will receive an email notifying you that your order has shipped, with your tracking information.  I ship Monday-Wednesday to avoid any weekend delays. If you order Wednesday or later, you can expect your order to be shipped the following Monday. Should temperatures in your area be outside the safe shipping window, you will receive an email of notification with an updated delivery estimate.

What countries and states do you ship to?
I ship within the US, to all states.  No international orders at this time.  

Can you hold plants for me?
Because of limited growing space, I can not hold plants for long periods of time.  If your temperatures are not suitable, I will hold them until they are, but otherwise, please be ready to receive your plants within two weeks of purchasing.  Please specify in the notes section of your order if you are unable to receive the plants immediately.  

Are your plants grown in animal-free spaces?
All the plants are grown in plant designated containers unless otherwise noted.

I have a question about growing my plant, what should I do?
If you have questions about care, you can view the specific description for the plant you purchased or view that plant on the blog. Please take into consideration your microclimate, as care guidelines can vary significantly depending on your ambient humidity, temperature, and light.  Feel free to contact me with any questions.

I want to do a biotope tank, how do I find plants from a specific area?
All the plants are tagged with the countries and continents they are found in.  Input your desired area in the search bar and all the plants from that area will show up.  

I want to find a plant of a specific size, what do I do? 
All the plants are tagged with their relative size.  Terms include mini, small, medium, large, and giant.  Input the desired size into the search bar and all plants of that size will show up. 

I placed an order, but want to add additional items, do I have to pay the two shipping charges? 
If you put another order in before your first order has gone out, you will receive a refund on any additional shipping.  Unfortunately there’s no way to automate this, but I will manually refund you as soon as I’m aware of it.   

What do you do to curb your environmental impact? 
All animals are from legal, captive bred stock.  50% of all animals sales are donated to the Rainforest Trust, or another conservation organization of your choosing (please designate in the ‘notes’ section of your order form or contact me if you have another organization in mind).  

Packaging is reused whenever possible.  100% of my packing materials (with the exception of USPS boxes) are reused.  No packaging is ever purchased.  All used potting materials are composted.  All reusable potting materails are reused indefinitely, including plastic pots.  Each season I hand wash hundreds of pots for resuse.  Additionally, all frogs are fed with home made, organic media.  Fruit fly cups and lids are washed and reused indefintitely (when hand washing maggoty cups, I’ve found listening to ‘Boris the Spider’ helps tremendously).  All paper products are US based and sustainably sourced.  

What payment types do you take? 
Paypal.  Setting up an account is easy if you don’t have one already.

I’m local, can I pickup my plants at your house?
No. I offer shipping via USPS priority mail only.