Resist temptation

Summertime DIY projects are an awful thing, and not just for their interference with pool time.  This beautiful time of year with its warmth and sunshine is also the time when nurseries and box stores try and clear out their inventory, and as long as I’m at the store picking up lumber and sandpaper I might as well take a stroll through the plants to see what’s going on.  So far an oleander and golden arborvitae have joined the screw and hinge purchases, and under the relentless strain of repeated returns to the store it’s no surprise my resistance wears thin and a small eucalyptus or succulent falls in the cart too.  Some people buy chocolate, I buy plants, and at a midsummer 50% off sale I run the risk of getting fat.

The DIY store is not a nursery.  The plants are not well cared for and are right in there with washing machines, pipe, and soda coolers…… but sometimes you get lucky.  Sometimes you don’t though, and it bothers me that they sell diseased and dying plants such as these ‘Tropicana’ cannas.

virus in canna leaf

Canna ‘Tropicana’ should be a gaudy blend of yellow, pink, and red stripes on a purple leaf, without breaks and mottling of color. You’re looking at canna virus.

I would guess the store doesn’t know and doesn’t much care to know but the grower should, and to send out plants looking this bad (and to then sell them for nearly $15!) seems irresponsible.  Reputation must not matter much as long as the bottom line keeps looking good.

diseased cannas

Back in the day people went crazy over the wild colors which would show up in virused tulips….. but they learned the lesson and dumped the plants. ‘Tropicana’ growers didn’t get the memo, and each year I see these deformed offerings.

I would think if it’s your business you would want to send out the healthiest plants possible, and I’ve seen several online sources openly discuss the canna virus struggle, but some don’t seem to care.  ‘Tropicana’ can be a really cool plant…. if not entirely tasteful 🙂

healthy tropicana canna

Tropicana out by the mailbox last year. Maybe not virus-free (I’m back and forth on whether or not it’s clean) but it sure looks better than the store version.

I like my cannas and try to toss anything that looks suspicious, but I hate to see the pros doing a worse job than me.

I’d also hate to leave on a down note so here’s another lapse in judgment that you might enjoy.  Santa Rosa is an excellent online source for plants, and they run some amazing sales, here are the goodies which arrived last month after I fell victim to their online summer clearance.

plants from Santa Rosa gardens

I wasn’t even aware of my heuchera addiction until this showed up. My collection of one plant just increased by a dozen more….

The sale is still going on by the way, and if you use the coupon code of JULY10 when checking out, another $10 will come off your $35 minimum order… that’s practically giving plants away and I’m not going to go there (but I would never judge others who lack my amazing will power!)


16 comments on “Resist temptation

  1. Christina says:

    Love your new acquisitions! If I had the right conditions for them I could easily be an addict too!

    • bittster says:

      I try to avoid jumping on to the new plant bandwagons but I think some of these have been tested a bit. With all this new foliage I may finally need to join in on a meme!

  2. Never heard of Santa Rosa Gardens before. Thanks for the link!

    • bittster says:

      Check them out, I’ve had some great experiences with them. If you can wait for the clearance sales, the savings are fantastic and it becomes downright dangerous to get a cart started 🙂

  3. pbmgarden says:

    You have a nice set of new plants there. Thanks for the tip about this place. I really have come to like heuchera and would like to add a “few” more myself.

    • bittster says:

      Heuchera are such an interesting group. I just wish they wouldn’t always neglect the flowers…. I love the foliage, but some of their blooms are really on the dingy side.

  4. Cathy says:

    Oh dear Frank, you have reminded me the sales are on at our DIY store too. I will have to find an excuse to go and take a look! I have picked up some bargains in the past… mostly sick, but nursed back to health! But the Heucheras I got there last summer were infested with vine weevil and I had to empty the large container I had planted them in and sieve through the soil to remove the larvae! I love Heucheras too, and have found an online supplier, so if the budget allows I shall get a few in the autumn. Any recommendations welcome, but I do like one called Lime Marmalade. Do you have a favourite? You have a nice selection there.

    • bittster says:

      Blech. Vine weevils. I had them wipe out a tuberous begonia pot once and was so offended they would even eat the tubers like that… of one of my favorite plants at the time!
      I killed Kassandra last year (actually frost heave did) but while it was alive I was amazed by the vigor even under neglect and drought, and I was smitten by the color. Lime Marmalade looks nice! I’ll have to keep my eyes open for that one.
      If I end up with any really nice ones I’ll let you know. Right now they all look pretty good even though in my opinion they’re getting too much light, the soil stinks, and they need water… I should do plant trials, my gardening sure does test any plant 🙂

  5. My inlaws dumpster dive at the box stores for plants. The box stores throw out so many and they are not even close to being dead. It must be funny seeing them drive up at night in their Lexus to load up on perennial plants and small trees.

    • bittster says:

      I haven’t dumpster dived but frequently take on sickly rejects, marked down abuse victims, and dumped-in-the-woods remodeling victims. Many have stayed with me for years and really taken off!
      I’m no expert but I hear that many of the box stores don’t even own the plants, they just kind of hold them for an outside vendor who supplies them, removes the dead, and maybe marks them down if it’s worth the trouble. I’ve seen many a box store with a locked dumpster…. how bad is that?

  6. Pauline says:

    A few years ago I had some cannas which developed the virus, so out they went. I bought some more this year and so far, thank goodness they seem ok. You do certainly seem to be lucky with all the bargains you find!

    • bittster says:

      I guess I spend enough time in the stores to run across something now and then… Bargains are much harder to find on the good stuff, and for that I don’t mind paying full price!
      Glad to see your back into cannas. I come and go, for a few years I love them, for a few more I think they’re just too much work!

  7. I agree that big box stores often have plant stock in poor shape. I didn’t know there was a Canna virus going around.

    • bittster says:

      I guess the virus only matters if you go whole hog into cannas, I just don’t like new gardeners buying plants that are set up to fail for them….

  8. Chloris says:

    I didn’ t know about the Canna virus. I suppose any sort of stripe or variegation can be the result of a virus. I like your new purchases. Heucheras are a favourite of mine. The flowers aren’ t very impressive but who needs lovely flowers when you get such great foliage?

    • bittster says:

      I’m late to the heuchera party, but glad I made it! I hope a few of them work out well in my less than ideal garden!
      I’ve taken a picture of my other arundo today with you in mind. It’s a beauty but demands a huge amount of prime real estate!

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