OK, confession. I’ve bought about a third of my plants at the Stuff Mart. (Not Walmart, I don't shop there.) One Big Box in particular is the only one left in my area that sells Lithops and other mesembs. If I can find some right after they unload the truck, they will be in good shape and settle in well with my other plants; I repot them immediately in my own mesemb mix, and that seems to help.
I have about a half-dozen orchids, and my two phals are both rescues from the Big Box Death Cart. My mini-phal was $3, and the regular NOID (no identification) phal was $5, marked down from $18. I unpotted them, removed the old, rotten roots, dusted the ends with cinnamon, and repotted in proper orchid mix. These big box orchids often come from vast farms in Thailand, though my local Lowe’s gets theirs from a nursery in my tropical state. Here’s a Thai orchid farm; that’s some monstrous big orchid patch!
|Scary big orchid patch.|
Now for my grumbles about the Big Box. They truly don’t care much about the plants apart from moving them along to customers as quickly as possible. For example, at my local BB, more plants sell if they are outside, so out go the orchids into full summer sun, scorcheroo! They don’t last long, and their deaths are woeful to behold. The cacti and succulents get the same watering as every other plant, so it’s death by drowning for them. The Argyrodermas and Titanopses (sp??) last no more than a week in such a situation. Years to grow to a decent size, then phfft, a few days of careless care and they’re gone. That’s just so sad! The employees don’t know much about the plants and many don’t care. They have to work fast and move product.
My second gripe is the whole NOID thing. No identification except for something like, “succulent”, or “orchid”. Duh. Hopefully most people know they can ask the mighty Google for help in ID’ing their new plant and can learn from reputable Internet sources, local garden societies, or books on how to care for it. Though as most of us know, most Big Box houseplants end up in the trash after ceasing to bloom or look fresh.
My third and last grumble (promise) is my concern that specialist growers lose business to the mass market nurseries. But I’ve heard also that a big box plant can be a starter plant that leads to a happy gardener, who begins to buy healthier, more specialized plants from local nurseries and knowledgeable growers. Maybe it works both ways? Any specialist growers want to comment on this one? I really don’t know the answer.
So, time to confess. Have you ever bought a Big Box Plant? What’s your verdict??