cardboard opens, plants revealed

This past week I received two exciting packages in the mail, cardboard boxes that even if I had no memory of arranging for them to be delivered to me, I could still probably figure out what they contained. Of course, they contained plants!

The first package arrived on Thursday, and I could see it was a "custom" box, and rather tall. This could only mean one thing in my experience: it contained bamboo!


Unlike other plant boxes I've received this year, this wasn't part of a plant trade. This was a purchase from another bamboo collector -- only because I didn't have any suitable plants to trade in return at this time.

As with my previous bamboo purchase (from another source), the plant was bent down to fit in the box.

The rootball was wrapped with plenty of packing tape, which took a little work with the scissors to remove:

Underneath that was a second bag, and some more tape:

I appreciate the care taken to ensure the plant arrived in good shape, but I wish there was a way to more quickly and easily unpack it -- I'm excited, and fiddling with scissors while trying not to cut into plant roots is almost more than I can handle!

Most of the soil has been removed, which made this a lot cheaper to ship. There are some nice buds on the rhizomes:

The seller mentioned that there were two nice buds on this one, but I see three...

Oh, the buds he was talking about were on the other side of the rootball!

Both of those appear to be ready to turn into shoots any day now!  So I got it potted up, watered, and added a bamboo stake to ensure the plant wasn't uprooted by the wind (not shown in the photo), which has been blowing like crazy this past week:

That's one new bamboo (Phyllostachys parvifolia) added to my collection!

The second box showed up the following day:

This one was a little beat up, and you could tell that it contained plants, or at least some damp soil -- you could see it in the corners of the package, stuck in the clear shipping tape.

Opening the box reveals some spillage, but three nice plants:

These were trade plants in what was probably the most quickly-arranged trade I've ever done. I received an email from Matt asking if was interested in some different Elephant Ears -- Matt is the one who supplied the original black-stemmed taro I've been growing for a couple of years -- and the plants were in the mail the same day!

Matt wanted some bamboo that he knew I had available for trade, and I jumped at the chance to get some Colocasia 'Tiger Stripe':

Matt also included a Colocasia 'Illustris':

So now I'll have a variety with some cool striped stems, and another variety with blackish leaves to add to my collection of Elephant Ears... somehow my garden is becoming quite tropical!

Matt's plants were already potted which saved me some work, and even though some of the soil spilled out and one of the "Tiger Stripe" leaves got broken, the plants are in good shape.

The third plant was a bamboo seedling: Pleioblastus shibuyanus. That bamboo has been flowering for a couple of years and Matt has too many seedlings and included this plant as a bonus. I already have one (or two?) shibuyanus seedlings, but I'm glad to have another so I can compare them. It may be that one of these will be a better plant: more vigorous, taller, darker leaves, etc. The parent plant was variegated, but so far all of the seedlings I've heard about are plain green.

So that's how a couple of cardboard boxes turned into a few new plants that I'm really excited about!

That's also the last of the shipped plants I'm expecting right now. There's always a chance I'll order another bamboo, or arrange another trade, but that's it for now.

Which is probably a good thing, as I have a lot of plants in pots and I need to figure out what I'm going to do with all of them...


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Janet  – (April 24, 2011 at 9:23 AM)  

It looks like Christmas and birthdays rolled into one! How many bamboos have you got now?

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (April 24, 2011 at 11:07 AM)  

Love all those elephant ears. Our Alocasia macrorrhizos 'Borneo Giant' has one new leaf already and my favorite, Colocasia esculenta 'Elepaio' has unfurled one leaf, which promptly got attacked by slugs. 'Illustris' comes up really late here. But all our elephant ears are in-ground.

Alan  – (April 24, 2011 at 4:01 PM)  

Janet: I think 52 different species/varieties.

Steve Lau  – (April 24, 2011 at 7:35 PM)  

I think shoots stay that way for quite a while until they are ready to shoot. When I checked my in-ground parvifolia, there are nice big cattle horns in the 2/3 inch range right under the mulch which is already larger than the biggest from last year, but I don't know where all the rhizomes are so there may be 1-inchers primed and ready to launch in a few weeks.

I've also thought about getting elephant ears, but it might be too much of a hassle if they aren't hardy enough to just leave in the ground and need to be dug up every winter.

Alan  – (April 24, 2011 at 9:38 PM)  

Steve: It always cracks me up when you use thirds of an inch measurements... I don't know why. =) Also, which is more hassle: to dig up the tuber and stick it in the garage or basement, or to load up lots of jugs with water, make forts out of bags of leaves, then tarp over everything? Believe me, getting the Elephant Ears ready for winter is much less work than doing the same for the potted bamboos.

Dave@Gardeningonadime  – (April 24, 2011 at 9:50 PM)  

Nice presents! Elephant ears and bamboo...two of my favorite plants. We grow a few clumping varieties of bamboo. Baby Blues and Heavenly Bamboo seem to behave the best for us. Bamboo offers so much and takes so little.

Steve Lau  – (April 24, 2011 at 11:17 PM)  

Maybe. As I've read of elephant ears are not supposed to be hardy enough to just leave in the ground, and tarp over, and storing them aren't there usually issues with rotting?

Another idea is just planting them 1ft deep just like I did with my musa basjoo, but I might get a few starter EEs just to try out. Have you ever over-wintered them outside?

Alan  – (April 25, 2011 at 6:50 AM)  

Maybe that will work, but they'll turn to mush if they freeze. They don't rot in storage, as long as you keep them dry. The bare root one is fine, the ones I left in pots (unwatered) are fine.

Steve Lau  – (April 25, 2011 at 11:30 AM)  

Cool. I actually saved most of the pseudostem on my musa basjoo, so I think I might be able to over-winter EEs in the ground if I plant them deep enough, and give them enough protection.

Do you have any spare EEs or know of a good place to get lots of small bulbs for a good price?

HolleyGarden  – (April 26, 2011 at 12:43 PM)  

Getting plants in the mail is the best! Second best is gardening books in the mail!

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